Texas Tech Announces Industry-Supported Chair to Boost Region’s Agriculture

Texas Tech University announced the establishment of an industry-supported endowed chair to increase the competitiveness of High Plains agriculture and introduced its first recipient.

Written by Cory Chandler

Texas Tech University announced Monday (Sept. 22) the establishment of an industry-supported endowed chair to increase the competitiveness of High Plains agriculture in an economy increasingly linked to international markets and guided by conservation-oriented policy.

Officials also introduced Darren Hudson, an award-winning agricultural economist from Mississippi State University who is the first chair recipient.

The $1 million Larry Combest Endowed Chair in Agricultural Competitiveness will support proactive research focused on boosting the region’s agricultural competitiveness and profits. Local producers will benefit from recommendations and conclusions on issues ranging from pricing to global markets.

Honoring former U.S. Congressman and House Agriculture Committee chairman Larry Combest, the chair was created through donations from associations and companies including Plains Cotton Growers Inc., First Ag Credit, Lamesa Cotton Growers, CoBank, Plains Cotton Cooperative Association, Farmers Cooperative Compress, Texas Agricultural Coop Council and PYCO Industries Inc.

Combest has committed to raising funds to increase the endowment, and College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Dean John Burns said he hopes the chair will someday be the university’s most robust.

“I think the decision to name this chair after Larry is a tremendous idea,” he said. “No one person at the national level has done more in recent years to promote agriculture in general, and West Texas agriculture in particular, than Larry Combest. The person who holds the Combest Chair will be a vital force in preparing us to compete even more effectively in the global arena, and because of the initial funding to create this position, our goal is to grow the endowment until it is the most heavily endowed chair at Texas Tech.”

Hudson, a native of White Deer and a graduate of Texas Tech, will take over the reins of the university’s nationally-recognized Cotton Economics Research Institute. The program coordinates economic research activities on all aspects of cotton research within Texas Tech and other research units throughout the United States and other countries.

“It’s an honor to be selected by my peers for this position,” Hudson said. “It’s a privilege to work with such fine faculty and to serve the Texas agricultural sector.”

Hudson’s research programs in the past have focused on vertical integration and coordination in agriculture; mergers and acquisitions in agricultural cooperatives; economic and environmental impacts of spatial agricultural technology; economics of investment in remote sensing technology; and commodity market price analysis.

“My research here will focus on both the economics of the cotton industry in particular, and, more generally, analyzing issues to help maintain the competitiveness and economic viability of agriculture in Texas,” he said.

Prior to coming to Texas Tech, Hudson was a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University. In addition from 2006 to 2009, he was a fellow with The Farm Foundation, an Oak Brook, Ill.-based agricultural organization that focuses on economic and policy issues impacting agriculture, the food system and rural America.

Hudson earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and economics from West Texas State University. His master’s and doctorate degrees in agricultural economics are from Texas Tech. He is a member of the American Economic Association, Economic Science Association and the American Agricultural Economics Association.

Awards for Hudson include the American Agricultural Economics Association Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher (2007); Mississippi State University Alumni Association Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher (2007); Gamma Sigma Delta Outstanding Teacher (2006); and College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award (2004).

Hudson is stepping into the former post of Don E. Ethridge, one of the founding architects of Texas Tech’s Cotton Economics Research Institute. Ethridge retired from the university in August after a 27-year career as both ground-breaking professor and chairman of Texas Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics from 1997 to 2005.

Ethridge’s career also included stints at as an economist with the USDA’s Economic Research Service and a senior economic analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of Economic Research, where he conducted policy analysis and research.

CONTACT: Darren Hudson, Larry Combest Endowed Chair in Agricultural Competitiveness Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2821 or darren.hudson@ttu.edu