Colorado’s robust agricultural scene, combined with increasing consumer interest in health, wellness, local foods, food safety and environmental issues, is the driving force behind expanded research and outreach at Colorado State University. For more than a century, university researchers and Extension agents have collaborated with farmers, ranchers and consumers to promote a healthy and abundant food supply. Issues important to local communities inform the research agenda on a broad range of agriculture and food issues and initiatives.
As the newly appointed assistant vice president in the Office of Engagement, James Pritchett will serve as a catalyst for new engagement efforts in food systems, and contribute to ongoing excellence in research and Extension initiatives.
Pritchett, a professor of agricultural and resource economics, will work directly with deans, associate deans and chairs among CSU’s colleges as well as faculty Extension Specialists. He will work at the intersection between consumer interests and behavior in health and wellness, food safety, food security, and the availability of locally raised foods, such as urban commercial farming and community supported agriculture operations.
“Colorado’s agriculture and food systems are impressive in their breadth and complexity,” said Lou Swanson, vice president for the Office of Engagement. “With James’s experienced leadership, CSU is committed to enhancing resilient, entrepreneurial food systems with the goal of enhancing Coloradans’ healthy, affordable food and supporting the state’s farmers and ranchers.”
Pritchett has extensive experience as a faculty Extension Specialist. His understanding and knowledge of CSU Extension’s new bottom-up organizational structure and culture will enhance the timeliness of listening to stakeholders and facilitating new and broader engagement with agriculture and food system stakeholders. He will take an active role in facilitating CSU Extension’s recently developed Planning and Reporting Units (PRUs), particularly those associated with agriculture and food systems.
“Some of CSU’s best traditions and society’s most pressing opportunities are in food production and food systems,” said Pritchett. “I’m excited to spur engagement between stakeholders and CSU professionals, and in the economic opportunities associated with consumer demands for health, wellness, environmental and other values that shape Colorado’s agriculture and food systems.”
Other goals for Pritchett include:
• creating pathways and synergies for campus engagement with Colorado’s agriculture and food systems;
• coordinating and championing applied research, campus curricula and student learning opportunities with external partners and constituencies;
• fostering connections and collaboration among Colorado’s agriculture and food systems stakeholder organizations;
• connecting consumers and other agriculture and food system end users with production agriculture; and
• increasing CSU’s visibility and brand awareness among Colorado’s agriculture and food systems participants and consumers.
Pritchett has served as an Extension economist and applied researcher examining issues important to Colorado agriculture. Most recently, he has focused on water resources; specifically on how farms might make the best use of limited water resources, the economic activity generated by irrigated agriculture in rural regional economies, and the policy perceptions that households have for water development and use.
Pritchett has also researched whether crop insurance is an effective risk management tool for dryland wheat farmers, the economics of animal disease, the relative “friendliness” of state policies toward agribusiness, and creating business plans for small and medium sized businesses.
His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, USDA’s National Research Initiative competitive grants program, Coca-Cola, the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Colorado’s Agriculture Experiment Station.
Pritchett is an active teacher in agribusiness management, agriculture finance and economics. In 2014 Pritchett was recognized as a top teacher and received the CSU Board of Governors Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award.
Originally from southeastern Colorado, Pritchett holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota. He earned his master’s degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics from Colorado State University in 1995 and his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Business from CSU in 1993. He joined the CSU faculty in 2001.
Pritchett will transition to his new role beginning in October and assume full-time duties Jan. 1, 2015.