YOU NEED TO KNOW: Deacue Fields
Meet Deacue Fields, the chair of the second largest department in the College of Agriculture, the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. Fields received his bachelor’s degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1993. He received his master’s from the University of Missouri in 1995. He then went on to receive his doctorate from Louisiana State University in 2002. When Fields is not busy with work, his primary hobby is showing American Quarter Horses at halter, as well as riding horses for pleasure. He also enjoys fishing and hunting with his three sons, going to their sporting events and school functions and traveling with them and his wife.
What drew you to Auburn University and the College of Agriculture?
I would have to say the people in the college were the primary attraction. I had absolutely no ties to Auburn, and I was not expecting to like the people or the town as much as I did during my interview process over 13 years ago. On the trip home my wife and I both looked at each other and said, “I kind of like that place.” I saw potential to be productive with the support of senior faculty and the family environment that I preferred.
What advice do you have for students looking at Auburn University and the College of Agriculture?
I tell students that now is one of the most exciting times in agriculture given the challenge of feeding approximately 9 billion people by the year of 2050. This is exciting because agriculture is already a leading economic engine for our state and nation, and that position will be strengthened as we address the technological challenges ahead. Our department and the college are both growing and our graduates are in high demand. Students are graduating and moving into exciting careers at some of the nation’s top agribusinesses. Our student population is coming from more diverse backgrounds as more people are able to see the global, high tech picture of agriculture. Although production agriculture will always be a major business, it accounts for less than 20 cents out of every dollar spent on food. So the businesses that represent the other 80 percent of the food dollar are some of the largest businesses in the world. These are the processing, marketing, logistics, distribution, financing, policy, trade and input supply businesses for which our students are primarily going to work. Every person on the globe has to support agricultural businesses to live. So if a student wants to be part of an industry that will always exist, agriculture is the place to be.
What is your favorite Auburn tradition? What has been your most exciting moment here at Auburn?
I guess my favorite Auburn tradition is tailgating and reconnecting with College of Agriculture alums. Everyone is casual, relaxed and on the same page before football games. There have been a number of exciting moments since I have been here related to the work, so it is difficult to pick just one. One that is not work-related that ranks high was in 2013. I had a chance to be on the sidelines for the Georgia game, which was the game now known for the game-winning “Prayer in Jordan-Hare” play. It was definitely an unforgettable moment.
What is it like being the department chair of agricultural economics and rural sociology?
As a department chair no day is the same, and you can’t predict what the day will bring. That would drive some people crazy, but it is actually somewhat exciting for me. I enjoy the challenge of being part of reshaping the department as a number of faculty members are retiring. It is rewarding to invest in people, whether faculty, staff or students, and see the returns on the investment. The faculty and staff in the department are very productive and supportive of ways to improve the quality of research, extension and teaching efforts of the department. I also get a chance to initiate activities to enhance the experience of students in the department. Whether department chair or not, I will always enjoy interacting with students and seeing them mature and become successful. The fact that I was selected as department chair is still extremely humbling, and I never take the responsibility lightly.