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Book chronicles rise of farm management profession     Send a link to a friend

[JULY 16, 2004]  URBANA -- From a meeting that attracted 27 farm managers to the University of Illinois in 1929, the output of that event -- the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers -- has grown to 2,300 members throughout the United States and Canada. The story of that growth and the society's service to rural America is recounted in a new book by Harold Guither, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the U of I.

"Land Management and Valuation, 1929-2004" recounts the "evolution of professional farm management and rural appraising influenced by the stress and strains of 20th century agriculture," said Guither, who has been active for many years with the society.

"The human capital represented by a professional farm manager or rural appraiser in 2004 far exceeds the amount of formal education and experience of the first American Society members in the 1930s," said Guither. "At the same time, the clients, farm operators and farm owners, in most cases, also have achieved more formal education and experience."

However, Guither noted, those who founded the group in 1929 played an important and farsighted role.

"Even as signs of the Great Depression began to appear, the society worked to establish itself on a sound professional basis," he said. "One of the founders' first acts was to create a code of ethics for the profession. They wanted to improve the productivity of the farms they managed, not just collect the rent for the farm owner."

Those early steps built a firm foundation that has allowed the organization to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances and needs in the agricultural economy.


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"Today, professional farm managers face situations where big operators are gaining control over thousands of acres, managing these properties and competing with the traditional farm manager for business," he said. "At the same time, many acres of farmland each year pass from one generation to another. The new generation that comes into landownership through inheritance will be more urban than was true in the past. The need will continue for competent professional farm managers to manage land and counsel the new generation of urban landowners."

Guither's book reviews the evolution of the society and the changes in the agricultural economy from 1929 up to 2004. Appendixes include membership rolls, officers, and the first code of ethics and recipients of awards.

The book is available at a pre-publication price of $15, including postage and handling, on orders received by Aug. 10.

To purchase a book, send a check or credit card number to the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, Suite 508, 950 S. Cherry St., Denver, CO 80246-2664, or order online
at Books will be shipped in October.

[University of Illinois news release]

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