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Gary Schnitkey, a professor and farm management specialist in the department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois , has been with farmdoc since its inception.

“When I came here in 1998,” said Schnitkey, “there was an SRI (strategic research initiative) in information technologies, and farmdoc began out of two of the projects in that initiative.”

Schnitkey, Scott Irwin and Darrel Good were involved in one project to bring marketing and risk management information to ag producers.

“At the same time, Paul Ellinger was developing a financial management project,” Schnitkey said. “We were all sort of going our separate ways, so we decided to merge our efforts. Then we began bringing in pretty much everything – law and taxation, policy, as well as some specialty areas like crop insurance.

“I remember we had a lot of long discussions about how to organize this thing,” Schnitkey noted. “It was pretty exciting – this was something new, it was different. But in the end we came back to a very traditional way of doing things. Of course, I don't think any of us knew when we started that it would grow to what it is now.”

 Schnitkey worked with Sarahelen (Sally) Thompson, the head of the research initiative. When Thompson took a sabbatical to Florida , Schnitkey was appointed interim head. When Thompson moved on to Purdue, Schnitkey was given the position as head, and farmdoc was one of several projects he administered in the SRI.

Today Schnitkey holds an Extension appointment and his activities focus on farm management and risk management.

 “I use Farm Business Farm Management data to look at what causes some farms to be more profitable than others,” he said. “I also do quite a bit with crop economics, comparing returns with corn and soybeans, and what impact prices and costs have on those returns.

 “Machinery economics, looking at the cost of alternative machinery, has been another hot topic this year because of fuel price increases,” he said.

Examples of Schnitkey's work can be found in the farm management newsletter Farm Economics: Facts and Opinions , published exclusively on the farmdoc website.

“Writing the FEFO's has been one of my favorite activities,” said Schnitkey, “because I can structure those and look at the topics I think are most important.”

Schnitkey's risk management activities focus on crop insurance evaluation.

“I do a lot of meetings around the state where we focus on aiding the farmers in understanding the risk and return tradeoffs of different crop insurance policies,” he said. Schnitkey is also co-developer of several on-line spreadsheet tools which include IFarm Premium Calculator and IFarm Insurance Evaluator.

Schnitkey received his bachelor's degree from Ohio State University and his master's and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois . From 1987 through 1998, he was a member of the faculty at OSU with an Extension and research appointment working in dairy farm management.

Schnitkey grew up on a grain and hog farm in northwest Ohio , which his brother still operates with their father's help. Today Schnitkey lives north of Mahomet with his wife, Bobbie, and their two daughters, Diane and Lauren. The Schnitkey's own and manage a boarding stable with 14 horses, which Schnitkey says is fun, "most of the time.”

Schnitkey concluded, "Working with the farmdoc team has been one of the more pleasant and rewarding things I have done during my professional career. I think we've done some good work."

To learn more about Gary Schnitkey, visit his homepage here.


Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics    College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
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