Jun 2, 2020
On this episode, Dr. Dustin Pendell, professor of agricultural economics, and host of Kansas State University's Beef and Cattle Institute podcast Cattle Chat and returning guest Dr. Jessica Heier Stamm, Kennedy Cornerstone Teaching Scholar in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering join hosts for a timely discussion. Both Pendell and Heier Stamm study supply chain at Kansas State University, but from different perspectives. The discussion focuses on the COVID-19 situation and reviews ways in which product moves today and how that may change in the future.
Preparation and Management of Challenging Situations - The Bottleneck Effects of the Widely Defined and Critical Supply Chain, with Dr. Dustin Pendell, Professor in Agricultural Economics and Dr. Jessica Heier Stamm, Associate Professor in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
What happens if this was an African swine fever or mostly foot and mouth disease where humans don't necessarily get impacted but it's the animal side?
Something to Chew On is a podcast devoted to the exploration and discussion of Global Food Systems produced by the Office of Research Development at Kansas State University. I'm Maureen Olewnik, coordinator of Global Food Systems.
I’m Scott Tanona. I'm a Philosopher of Science.
And I'm Jon Faubion. I'm a Food Scientist.
Hello everybody and welcome back to the K State Global Food Systems podcast Something to Chew On. In last week's podcast we talked with Dr. Jessica Heier Stamm about her work on methods to continuously monitor and improve the widely defined and critical supply chain. This week Dr. Heier Stamm agreed to come back and talk about this important area with Dr. Dustin Pendell, whose work is more focused in the area of agriculture. Dr. Pendell, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Director of the Graduate Programs carries out broad research activities in the areas of livestock and animal health issues that span from the producer to the meat supply chain and into the final consumer. Good morning, everyone and welcome back to Something to Chew On. Today's guests, we have Dr. Jessica Heier Stamm and Dr. Dustin Pendell. You will recall that last week's podcast we had a good discussion with Dr. Heier Stamm and she gave us a little background on who she was and what her area of focus was. This morning. I think we'll start with Dustin Pendell and have Dustin, could you give us a little background on who you are, what you do and what got you interested in this area of study?
Absolutely. First off, I'd like to thank you for inviting me today to participate in your podcast. And a little bit about myself. My name is Dustin Pendell. I'm an agriculturalist here in the Department of Agriculture Economics at K State. I've been here on campus for five years. Prior to me joining here at K State. I spent nine years at Colorado State University, the faculty member there where I conducted research and teaching. And then I spent four years at K State get my PhD, grew up in a small cow calf operation in west central Illinois, growing up in Illinois, and they grew up on a cow calf operation. So that's where my interest in the cow calf industry in the beef industry also have degree in Agronomy, so interested in crops as well. So that's a little bit about me, and a lot of my work here at K State is very interdisciplinary. I spend a lot of my time working with that veterinarians, epidemiologist, folks over in animal science. And with my upbringing in the cow calf industry and my background undergraduate education in Agronomy. I've always had this appeal to work on issues, relevant timely issues. And it's not just me being an agricultural economist trying to solve it. It's me being an economist trying to work with the animal scientist trying to work with the the crop scientists, the soil scientists, the Ag engineers, etc. So that's a little bit about me, like I said, I'm currently here at K State, I teach a undergraduate class called data analysis and optimization. I teach a graduate level class called economics of animal health and food safety. That's part of my appointment. Another part of my appointment is outreach extension. And then I'm also have a research appointment where I conduct research mostly related to issues related to animal health. I'm also the director of our graduate program in the Department as well.
What do you do in your spare time?
Yeah, my spare time I pretty much travel wherever my kids are and do what they are doing. So..
So Dustin, just kind of launching into the topic that we're here to talk about today, which is a follow up from Jessica's podcast on the supply chain. Can you give us a little high level background on what does it take to get product from the farm to a consumer these days?
Yes, so the supply chain that in the food industry is quite complex, I believe. Pick a product Pick a cow calf, for example, a calf that is calf born, which takes months, planing it, you know, through the gestation and breeding etc planning process through that calf is born, raised on it operation till a certain weight, maybe 500 pounds, it's weaned from there, it could stay on the operation, maybe as the background here stocker, or it could be sold through a sale barn. And then it could be taken to another farm, potentially raised for a while till I get to a certain weight, maybe 6-7-8-900 pounds from there, it could be sold again through sale barn, or it could be taken to a feedlot to be put on feed for, you know, 120 to several 100 days, 100 days. From there, it goes to the processing plant, where it's processed, and made into a whole bunch of different, I guess, pieces. From there, it can be shipped either locally, in the US internationally, maybe to different warehouses, where their distribution, it can be further processed, once it gets to wherever it is, then that could go into the retail outlets, or it could be diverted to the food service. And of course, every step along the way, you've got other actors or other players, whether it's transportation, other people providing inputs into this food system. And so that's just one particular example, using beef industry. I mean, every industry is going to be slightly different. You've got perishable or non perishable products. And so there's a lot of different complexities, I guess, a lot of steps.
A lot of steps.
One of the things that we've been talking with Jessica before was about individualized decision making versus kind of top down organization. And one aspect of that also is how many different paths there are through through systems and through supply chains, like you're just discussing and how centralized they are. So you say something about, or Jessica jump in sort of about in general, you know, how centralized these chains are, how, right versus how local they stay, or how they something about all that sorry, that's a lousy question, but I guess you get what I'm asking.
So thinking about this, kind of here is maybe this concept of centralized versus decentralized, we're talking about your individual actors. And we think, across time, we've started to see a lot more the structure of maybe certain industries in agriculture, where they become more consolidated. As an example, over the last two decades or so 80% of the beef industry 80% of the animals slaughtered are controlled by four companies. And so the structure has went from a number of maybe smaller, packing plants to a few really large individuals, maybe that's becoming more centralized. Now, I think, people you want to ask yourself, why is that happening? What are some of the benefits? And what are some of the costs of that, thinking about some of the benefits, we see, probably a lot of it comes back to costs. There's a lot of cost efficiencies that might be saved by becoming larger when you've got cold storage, for example. This is one example when you process a beef, you have to keep that beef in a cooler after you've done that. And so the more animals or the more pounds of meat, you can run through that cooler, you're going to lower those average costs. And so I think, as we've seen across time, the structure of the industry change. Again, I'm using just the livestock industry. I think costs have driven some of that. But I also think there's other factors that come into play when we think about this notion of a centralized maybe versus a decentralized system, not just cost. But it could be environmental issues that could be public health, probably international training. There's a lot of things I think that come back into this notion of a centralized versus a decentralized system. Now, I think as we're going through what we're currently going through with COVID If you follow anything on social media, there's a lot of comments, a lot of maybe pushback of people saying, you know, the current system that we're in this large, having a few large actors, a few large players, control a lot of the system maybe isn't necessarily a good thing, and maybe we should do a lot of have a lot of smaller, local, more regionalized either packing plants or food distribution? And so I think that's, that's a question that we need to look at and we need to answer is, what are the trade offs between where we've evolved to today versus what some people are calling for now is more mauler regionalised, distribution or packers? So I guess that's what I what I've heard what I'm seeing what I've been thinking about recently about this notion of centralized versus decentralized, or, you know, are we wanting to go back to where we were 20-30-40 years ago, I guess I'd like to get maybe what Jessica's take is, on this tour, this idea of individual versus kind of a centralized?
Well, I see a lot of parallels between what Dustin just described for the supply chain, let's say, for beef products, and other supply chains over time, because of cost and other pressures, supply chains in all kinds of industries have gotten very lean. So think about buzzwords like just in time delivery, or, you know, lean manufacturing, operating with the very least amount of inventory being held as can sustain the production line for whatever product that is, and concentrating operations in a small number of firms or locations. We see this on the pharmaceutical supply chain. Right now, that's also creating some some challenges with the COVID response. Because there are drugs in shortage, there are personal protective equipment items that are in shortage, because those supply chains have been designed to provide just the routine amount of supply and any disruption at any point in the supply chain can create havoc in other places. And so I think, across industries, this question that Dustin raised about what are the trade offs? What are the costs and benefits of a lean supply chain of consolidation of concentration in a small number of firms is one that we will very carefully need to study. There are obviously costs to carrying stockpiles of inventory of n95 respirators. But there are also as we're seeing very real costs of not having those stockpiles. Likewise, there are costs of consolidating beef production among four major players, but there are costs of not having a resilient and redundant systems that can be responsive to shocks or vulnerabilities or disruptions in other places in the supply chain.
So what I think what I'm hearing is that the major changes that have taken place in supply chain using cow calf, as an example, has been a consolidation and increase in scale. Is that correct? Or are there more?
No, I definitely the increase the scale. Economies of Scale is a big factor. I mean, it's not probably the only factor though. But it is most definitely in these economies of scale, allowing them to come back to these cost efficiencies. I also think that, you know, sometimes, when you have not only cost efficiencies, I think there are some other things that probably play into whether it be you know, think about slaughter plant, we have a few really large slaughter plants from where are they located at? Well, we know here in Kansas, we have some right southwest Kansas, Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma Panhandle, eastern Colorado. Who wants a packing plants we have a bunch of these throughout the country, really small, regional, how many people want these in their backyard? I think there's a reason why we've seen them in Kansas and western Kansas, for example, there's not a lot of population. So I think their kinds of scale are driving it is Jessica kind of pointed out. But I think there are some other things that we also need that one needs to also consider when they think about this from the bigger picture through all these different trade offs.
So I'm curious about what sort of process would be a good one for thinking about these different trade offs and thinking about how what goals we want out of our system, what we, what we want to achieve how much we care about Say you know that resiliency and how much we're willing to pay for it. Either you have thoughts about how to approach, thinking about these things.
I think modeling is a great tool to be able to examine different systems designs and understand the trade offs and dialogue with stakeholders about the trade off. So I think there are two really important components to considering what a next generation supply chain might look like. The first is understanding the perspective of all the stakeholders and understanding, you know, what, what does each one want out of the supply chain, or what's not working in the current supply chain, you know, if you talk to cow calf operators, today, they're very concerned about your concentration in the packing part of the supply chain, they're very concerned about being able to sell their animals for a fair price. You talk about the Packers, obviously, they're very concerned about the welfare of the workers, the continued operations, being able to sell their product as well. And so having an of course, the consumers interested about what prices they're paying at the grocery store, the welfare of the workers, the safety, health of their communities, and so forth. So understanding what's working or what's not working in the current system, and then taking that to a model to represent, you know, what are the costs and the benefits? If we configure the supply chain in this way? What are the costs and the benefits if we configure it in this way, I'm not an expert in policy or markets or economics. And so there are also some social science aspects of enacting those changes that need to be accounted for as well. And so I think, you know, what Dustin said at the outset of these challenges, interdisciplinary is going to be absolutely critical to us re envisioning what supply chains can look like.
Just to add to that real quick, I agree, we need to talk to the stakeholders, figure out, wait, first of all, who are stakeholders, it is going to be your producers, it's going to be everyone throughout the entire supply chain all the way to your final consumer, and figure out what what are their wants, and their needs. If you take a look at any research that has looked at what consumers want in the food side. And there's generally three or four attributes that always come out on top, you know, price, they want, you know, food that is affordable. Here in the United States, I believe we spend less than 10% of our disposable income. It's down around six or 7% of our disposable income on food. You compare that to some of your third world countries from developing countries, they might pay upwards of 50% 50% of their income, their supposable income is spent on food. So price is one of the attributes, generally food safety, safe, tasty and nutritious. Are your other attributes that consumers typically want to see. But then I also think you need to take into account what those producers and then all your other actors throughout that supply chain is, Jessica brought up another good point about modeling, rather than trying to change the system. And then we'll figure out what all the impacts are. We could use the modeling that Jessica talked about. And that can give us a better idea of what would work what wouldn't work. How much would those costs be by changing the various systems? That way it gives us a better idea of kind of those those benefits and costs that we've talked about. And so I agree with what Jessica said there in terms of thinking about how might we go forward with the supply chains?
In the current situation that we've got with food and challenges in the supply chain? We've been hearing, as you said social media on television, that there's a lot of food being dumped produce milk, are there long term impacts of something like that happening? Is that going to be a flash in the pan? Or do you think going back to some of the other comments that you made a little bit earlier? Is that going to have some force change on the decentralization or the way we look at getting food moved around?
Well, what I think in the short term what that is doing is that is you're starting to see that show up on social media, whether it's Twitter, Facebook, what etc. And I think that's really upsetting some people and I think those could be vocal could be asking for change. We start to see possibly some Are policymakers starting to do investigations? Wanting to know more? What should we be doing different how we should be doing different? Which kind of leads back to that last question that Jessica talked about, maybe we should model look at what a different structure would look like and take a look at those costs associated with possible different structures. And so there's a lot of things I guess, one could think about in this.
Just gonna follow up to that, I think we have seen some changes in policies and practices and supply chain operations, as news of the food waste has gotten out, right. So you all may be more familiar with the nuances and the details of this than I am. But USDA changed some guidelines to allow restaurants to sell the produce the eggs, the meat and things that they had would have received through their regular channels, even when they were not serving customers in the dining room. And so they could sell those products as if they were a grocery store, which is not typically allowed, right. And so redirecting some of that food that would have been potentially wasted back to consumers through a different channel, right. So they're not getting it through the grocery store, but they're getting it through the restaurant channel, and other ways to reconfigure that supply chain that had been designed to send products to restaurants, products to schools to now get to, to grocery stores, or direct to consumer in a way that hadn't been done before the pandemic. And so I think some of those short term changes, will maybe remain short term changes, others may be candidates for consideration about ways that we can adapt the policy more permanently going forward. So I think it'll be interesting to see what some of those responses may be.
And I would concur with that I just don't know long run, what will happen or if, if anything will happen. But I think, you know, some of what we're seeing in the media, social media, I'm just not sure if it'll just die out. And then as we think about the supply chains, how they should or maybe what they should look like in the future, that will then be incorporated into some of those potential policy changes that Jessica mentioned.
That relates to a question that I had, which is basically how easy is it to change these things? You know, how themes as if these supply chains develop, and the sins are made by industry, in ways that, you know, are not going to make it straightforward for us all this sort of say, hey, look, let's do something a little differently, everybody. So like, how stable are is the way things are set up right now? And how easy is it to change?
Some supply chains might be a little easier to adapt, and change. Others are going to be like we pointed out right at the very beginning, the food system is very complex. And so I don't think these are things that you can change very easily, especially overnight. Going back to the live animal, or fruits and vegetables. You know, we've got biology that gets that comes into play here, this is good, that's gonna be a little different to maybe a manufacturing sector. And because of the biological lags or the biology that gets involved in the animal agriculture, or I guess fruits and vegetables, that in itself is one complexity that maybe other industries don't have that don't see. I think that's a complexity right there. That's gonna be very hard to change. And it's not in the whole, there's so many players are so many people are so many other industries are that are involved in the supply chains. It's not just talking to the Packers in the feed yard, that maybe your cow calf producers, it's all these other industries that impacted, right, you've got your pharmaceutical industries that provide, you know, the medications to the industry, you've got your feed industry, so you get your grain producers. And so you've got a whole bunch of different players that might not actually produce the calf or produce the chicken. But you've got all but they're definitely involved in that chain. So changing this, the supply chain, I don't think it's very easy at all. I think it's going to be extremely complex. I think it will take a while to think through alternatives. And if we want to implement them, they'll have to be implemented slow as there's so many other people that are being impacted, and they will have to adjust and change their supply chains as well. So my initial initial reaction to your question.
I echo what Dustin shared and just chime in with a small anecdote that others may have seen. So this is from the healthcare side. It's so there's a shortage in hand sanitizer and distilleries, you know, mobilized to produce hand sanitizer instead of whiskey. And now there's a shortage in plastic bottles to put the sanitizer in so it can be dispensed. Right. So, health care supplies, supply chain personnel, you know, hospital resource managers have been trying to find out who are the producers of small plastic bottles, so they can dispense the hand sanitizer that they're getting in, you know, really, really big jugs in practical ways throughout their system. So just something as small as what bottle Do you dispense it in, can throw a wrinkle into even a creative solution. And so if you compound that through the entire supply chain, whether it's pharmaceutical, medical supplies, or food, fruit, vegetables, meat proteins, every one of those supply chains has those little nuances, those complexities all the way through. And so thinking about those implications is certainly tackling a complex problem.
In some cases, you have the cost of success when you have a critical ingredient. And the product is so highly desired that you've lost full access or appropriate access to, to the critical ingredient. Not enough blueberries for McDonald's yogurt, or whatever. And so now they have one component that's missing, and they can't, they can't sell the product at all. So it ramifies out even further into the mind of very minor ingredients in the system.
I guess another complexity to add on top of that is that the consumer and certainly in the United States is used to being able to get whatever they want, whenever they want it and not having eating locally, obviously, that's going to be very seasonal. That's really not what the consumer is used to.
And I think that's just probably a temporary. I mean, we're just we had such a huge shock to the system, right? You think about the demand side, we have people scared. And so they're all going out, rushing out buying products, whether that be meat, because we saw the pictures of the meat cases, for bare in the social media in the news, or, you know, Clorox wipes toilet paper. So you’ve seen this initial huge shock that we're not used to seeing, from demand side, on the demand side, thinking about groceries, on the restaurant side, now suddenly, everybody stays home, nobody's going out to eat. And so you got restaurants that are in there that are shut down, at least temporarily. And so that's a huge shock to their system as well. And thinking back to earlier questions about dumping milk, or this or that, in comments about the supply chains, how we've got them, we can't just change them overnight. Right? So we're making the same milk that's going in these little cartons that go to school, where you can't just turn on take the little cartons and sell them in a grocery store. You can't change our supply chain overnight, like Jessicas has talked about. It's I think that is some of these issues that we're seeing right now. Now, are they changing? Will they be able to adapt? Absolutely. But they just can't do that, that change, I can't make that change overnight. And so I think it is a short term shock, as we start to gradually open up as we start to go, you know, open up the economy start to go out to restaurants, etc. I think as demand builds back up, we'll start to, you know, we'll start to things will start to get back to, quote unquote, normal, if you will. And so I think it's just gonna take some time. But I think this is just a short term shock to the system will advance and then we can talk about the supply side shock as well.
What's the least likely factor to change? What's going to be? What might be different out there? Is there something that just is now have we learned something that makes it impossible to go back to some part of the system?
That's a good question. I’ll have to think about that one.
Or is it was it going to be a trial and error? What will we find out? When we have go back the way it was and find the problem?
That's a good question.
I’ve been really interested in the question and I don't have an answer off the top of my head. Think about it.
I've been pondering it as well in a different context in the context of some spice industry, if you will, or the flavor industry. Some of those very minor ingredients are quite unusual and susceptible to alteration, and susceptible to contamination, and we have problems with sanitizing them, because you know, that they're difficult, and it might change them. So we might, we might find that what we've what we've decided to do, might be very, very difficult to do at least one step, perhaps. So I think it's just gonna have to be a learning experience.
Yeah, your, your might be right there. Yeah. What, as we tried to go back to some things and realize that maybe it didn't work. Maybe it doesn't work, maybe we've improved, we've learned or maybe what we're doing now isn't working, we have to go back. And there's really no other way to around it.
As far as as for nosocomial diseases are concerned, for example. Would it be possible? Or would it be in the realm of possibilities that that certain strains or certain varieties or certain genetic compositions of a feed animal or a bird or whatever might be selectively susceptible to those or? or pass that disease more readily on to a human? Or am I asking the wrong? The right question? Maybe?
Yeah, I might want to leave that to an epidemiologist or public health, not not an economist.
I had a bigger picture thought on what may or may not revert to the previous normal with respect to supply chains. This may be my optimistic side talking, but I'm a perpetual supply chain educator, my hope is that we don't go back to a scenario where we only think about supply chain when it's broken. You know, so now everybody knows about the disruptions in the food supply chain in the Lysol wipes supply chain in the PPE supply chain. We know about supply chains now, because they're not working the way that we expect them to. I may be overly optimistic, but I hope that we continue to think about supply chains and how they impact our lives. And, I hope that people get excited about solving those problems.
Do you think there's a ways in which we can be more attentive to different kinds of risks to the supply chain coming on? Now? I mean, I think, I don't know that much about this. But I have a sense that, right. I mean, farmers are sensitive to the possible diseases that their animals have and their crops have. Right. And so when we thought about and heard about bird foods, etc, before, I mean, sort of from the general population side, I think, you know, I mean, we worry about the transfer over to humans, and we're all going to get sick, but we're also, you know, aware that that's the ag industry is worried about this with respect to their animals, and then sort of, you know, perhaps diseases, etc, the same right, but, now we're looking at and that would disrupt, right, sort of, like a major, major disease amongst all right, you know, amongst livestock, you know, we know that's going to disrupt the agriculture industry, right, but we haven't, it seems to me then, like intentive to like how, how major things like this economically would, would shift. Right, so people getting sick, right, would totally mess up the supply chain the same, this kind of way, right? Does this just raised like new issues that we haven't been attentive to, and maybe thinking about enough? Are these are these things people have been thinking about? And then just like we weren't, we weren't ready for it?
That's a really good question. You know, question that I've asked myself over the last couple, two, three weeks, is we're talking about we're seeing COVID-19 which is a human and animals aren't impacted. mean, they are being impacted now, because we've seen that the bottleneck with packing plants, not having a labor force to keep their packing plants open. Thus, we don't have a place for our live animals to go. And so if you see in the news, how they've been euthanizing animals for welfare reasons. What happens if this was an African swine fever or mostly foot and mouth disease where humans don't necessarily get impacted, but it's the animal side, which is exactly what you're talking about. Because it's going to enter deuce, I think a whole others. There'll be some similar issues that we're seeing now. But I think it's going to open up a whole lot of other issues that we haven't experienced, from the fact that you're gonna have a whole bunch of animals that are sick. So we're going to have to think about depopulating potentially lots and lots of animals. What do we do with those animals? Some of the things I think that could be similar, as you know, we've seen the federal government and maybe state and local governments as well pass legislature that legislation that provides relief, economic relief, stimulus funds, I guess, you could say. So that would be something similar, I could see that happening already on the maybe if it was a different disease, helping out maybe producers who are losing livestock, which I think we're seeing that now, I think that could be a similarity, I think you're going to probably see similar issues in the supply chain, except now there's just not enough animals going into the supply chain. So it's not enough animals bid up the price. So prices, I think at the retail level will be extremely, could be pretty high, we could start to see issues with international trade, where maybe we're wanting to import more. But same time, maybe some people don't want to maybe don't want to ship product out of maybe they're scared? It's an interesting question, I guess I'd have to think a little bit about all the different differences between what we're currently seeing on the human side versus an animal. But absolutely, I think you're gonna see a lot of there will be a number of things that are the same. But there will be certain maybe it's disease specific things that are different. That one might have to think about to kind of think through kind of trace out the impact who's being impacted, and then subsequently up and down the entire supply chain.
I think I heard somewhere in your question, a thread about whether this has been on the radar of the public, the policymakers, the researchers, this kind of an outbreak. Yeah, yeah. So I'll pick up on that thread. It has been the potential for a global pandemic, whether human animal or zoonotic. So across species, is the subject of a great deal of, research and study much of it at K State. And what's been interesting to see play out in this particular event, is that this is a perfect storm, that is sort of the worst case scenario that a lot of these researchers have considered. And as much as we would like to say, you know, couldn't we have been more prepared for XYZ? It's, you know, some of that preparation was there, some of it's a matter of, of managing the situation in the moment, and some of it is a matter of every possible scenario is playing out here in terms of impact on on human health impacts on the economy, impact on supply chains, and all of those components at once. And so yes, there has been attention paid to this, but there's certainly opportunity for us to learn, because I think, you know, the science is pretty clear that these kinds of events are going to become more common, not less. And so this isn't the last major event, whether human animal or both, that we'll need to deal with and so whatever we can learn from this event, can only help us be more prepared for what's coming down the road.
So now that you've had chance to interact you to? Do you see areas that that in your areas of interested overlap that you are that you didn't know before or…
Not I think we've served on one PhD students committee, we looked at kind of a systems approach, building a model. And as a director of the grad program, a lot of what we as economists do, is we look at optimization. And I know Jessica, teaches some supply chain classes. She's teaching a game theory class for which we've got one of our grad students already enrolled in that this upcoming semester. And so I think there is probably a lot more overlap on what both on the teaching side, as I teach, I teach an optimization class as well, in the spring term, teaching, but I think from a research standpoint, I think Jessica and some others, just had a paper came out recently, if I'm not mistaken, that looking at some agent based modeling, in southwest Kansas, thinking the beef industry livestock. So I think there's some interesting things with that particular research. And I think they could easily adapt that to other parts of the industry aspect, whether it's Packing Plant Industry, or others. And so I think there are probably a lot of overlap and interests, whether it be from a teaching, or especially a research side, as well.
Is it your sense that the work that you two are doing and how many other people number doesn't matter, that are producing these results? And these recommendations, are they being effectively communicated to the actors that can actually make a difference in the, for example, in the supply chain? Are we doing an effective job of communicating up and out?
I think we can always do better with that aspect of research, we get excited about the results. And we get excited about the student successes. And when we're able, we also engage with stakeholders to make sure that we're informing our modeling and our research at the front end, and evolving with their feedback through the middle and delivering those recommendations out. But I think that those pieces always can be improved. That's my perspective. And that's a priority of mine, in my current research, going forward, just partnering with state and local health departments, and so forth, but there are challenges in that as well, from the perspective of what's appreciated and rewarded in the university structure. But also just the bandwidth of the practitioners and finding the ways to engage that are best for them. And I think, you know, extension does a lot better job of this, in terms of engagement than other parts of the university.
And to follow on that, if we go back and look at maybe 15 years ago, when I started where we are now, you know, there was a lot of emphasis on, you just got to publish publishing your top in journals, work with other economist. Fast forward to today. It's, it's all about, are you having an impact, not necessarily in a top journal, but who are you helping? And one way to look at that is, you know, if you're in try to solve real world problems, you work with economists, engineers, and maybe a Veterinary Epidemiologist. And so I think we're starting to see a lot more of that. I think that we can do better, as Jessica pointed out, but I think we have seen a lot of that, you know, in my short 15 years and at the university. I also think what we've seen just within the last 2-3-4 weeks, I think we at the university, I think the our K State Extension has done an outstanding job putting out those relevant resources as timely resources, whether that be financial planning, whether that be in the public health, or whether that be helping model transportation in a particular region, for maybe livestock, and so I think we're starting to see a lot more of that communication, a lot more of the outreach, a lot more of the extension. And these last several weeks showing everything all the great things that we're doing at K State. And I hope going forward, that we will continue to communicate that information, whether that be a podcast or whether that be short factsheets or a radio interview, to the necessary people, whether the leadership at university leadership in Topeka, or in Washington, DC.
Well, Jessica and Dustin, I want to thank you both for your time here today. This has been a really interesting conversation. Each time I talk to somebody on campus, I realized how much more in depth research is being done in areas that impact people on a daily basis. And I think this, this added some clarity to some of the things that we're dealing with today and gives us a little insight on what we may be looking forward to in the future. So thank you so much for joining us today.
Yes, thanks for the opportunity.
Yes, thank you very much.
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Our music was adapted from Dr. Wayne Goins’s album Chronicles of Carmela. Special thanks to him for providing that to us. Something to Chew On is produced by the Office of Research Development at Kansas State University.