MFA Incorporated, MFA Oil and the MFA Foundation pledged $750,000, payable over four years, to the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources in 2015. The pledged established an endowed professorship that supports education and research. The first professorship role was recently filled.
Joe Parcell, professor and department chair of agricultural and applied economics in the Division of Applied Social Sciences, was tabbed as the first MFA Professor of Agribusiness.
“MFA’s partnership with the University of Missouri began a century ago,” said Ernie Verslues, president and CEO of MFA Incorporated. “We are extremely happy the university selected Dr. Parcell. He is a unique individual, and several of us at MFA have met with him. Joe brings a critical perspective to issues that affect agribusinesses in fundamental ways, not simply rehashing existing data. He is receptive to our ideas as well as the needs of those of us in the business world. He is intelligent in his approach to unearthing data that helps drive smart decisions.
“Dr. Parcell is a good conduit between today’s industry and academia,” added Verslues. “Not just at MFA, but in all areas of agriculture, we’ll benefit from his tenure.”
When the funds reach $1.1 million, the professorship will be converted to a chair.
Parcell is the director of undergraduate studies and adviser chair of agricultural and applied economics. He served as the director of the Missouri Value Added Development Center from 2001 to 2013. The Center was a joint venture between CAFNR and MU Extension.
“The focus is pretty flexible,” Parcell said. “Agribusiness can go so many different directions. We want to work for what’s best for the farmers.
“I’m really just a custodian of MFA’s resources. I’m here to ensure that they get used in a wise way and in a way that is valued by others across Missouri. We’re setting the base. My objective is to take those resources and leverage them the best I can to create even more resources.”
Parcell grew up on a hog farm in Iowa. He and his wife ran a row crop farm for more than 10 years and currently have a farm that they sharecrop.
Parcell earned his Ph.D. from Kansas State University. He has been with the University of Missouri for nearly 19 years, beginning his career as an extension agent. He has worked with farmers on a variety of projects, including price information and agribusiness.
“I have deep roots in agriculture and agribusiness,” Parcell said. “I have always been focused on Missouri agriculture, and this is a tremendous honor and opportunity.
“The intent here,” he said, “is to offer support for agriculture and agribusiness in Missouri. We want to promote agriculture and agribusiness and bring more students into this world.”
One of Parcell’s greatest strengths is mentoring and working with students.
As the MFA Professor in Agribusiness, Parcell will be in charge of several resources. Farmers and students are just two groups Parcell will interact with.
“MFA’s historic relationship with the University of Missouri reaches all the way back to 1914,” Verslues said. “And, really, considering William Hirth first bought the Missouri Farmer and Breeder (currently Today’s Farmer) in 1908, the relationship actually began then, before MFA was even created. From the first date of the publication, Hirth depended on University of Missouri professors to spread information they were developing. The magazine’s cover contained this quote, ‘It is published in the home of Missouri’s great agricultural college and the Missouri Experiment Station and tells you of the many great things which these fine institutions are doing for you. It stands for better crops, for better livestock, for more comfort and less drudgery—in short for a more profitable and pleasant farm life.’ We still operate under those beliefs. So, yes, we are excited.”