Glenn Grimes to Retire from University of Missouri

by 5m Editor
30 December 2009, at 5:58am

US - Steve Meyer writes in today's DLR: My church is pretty “modern“ in that we sing mainly popular worship choruses accompanied by a contemporary band that is very good. It appeals to young people and, especially, teenagers.

I know it is important to meet them “where they are“ musically as well as spiritually. But we also sing tradition hymns and I tell my kids that one of the reasons is that, while the modern songs may feel more comfortable to us and cause us to tap our foot and get involved, those old hymns help them learn about our heritage as Christians. They allow us to connect to the generations that have gone before us. And that is critically important.

I’m using my bully pulpit today to do the same for all of us market analysts. A time is at hand to remember our heritage and think about all of the men and women who have set the standards to which we all are compared and, hopefully, aspire.

The occasion of this reflection is the re-retirement of Glenn Grimes from his service at the University of Missouri. Thursday marks his last day as a part-time employee of that institution. He retired from full-time work in 1986 but has been a proud Tiger as either a student or employee for the better part of 60 years. He is one of the finest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He is a terrific economist who has made a career of using economic theory and facts to explain and predict economic conditions. He has not always been right but I am absolutely confident that he has never fudged a forecast to make anyone happy or, for sure, for his own gain in any manner.

I first met Glenn when I was in graduate school at Iowa State but I really became acquainted with him in 1987 when I reported for duty as an assistant professor at the Mizzou. Glenn was so gracious in helping me navigate those years, suggesting possible research topics and getting me involved as one of the teachers of the livestock marketing course. Some of my fondest memories are of Glenn, James Rhodes, Charles Headley and other senior faculty swapping various stories in the department’s coffee room. I should have listened more carefully.

Glenn Grimes has made his most notable contributions to the pork industry. His work with James Rhodes in the 1970s set the stage for a long-running effort to document the changes in pork industry structure. Those original studies became the precursors for triennial surveys of hog producers’ marketing and production practices. When Dr. John Lawrence joined the team after Dr. Rhodes’ retirement, the series continued and provided some important insights into producer sizes, market shares, technology adoption and business practices during the turbulent changes of the ‘90s and ‘00s. Those surveys and resulting reports remain important as 2010 unfolds since they provide some of the only insights available regarding producers’ viewpoints of various marketing contracts — a topic that will no doubt be addressed in the USDA/DOJ competition and concentration workshops.

This point is debatable but I am pretty confident that Glenn Grimes was the first to publish demand indexes. I have heard some credit the indexes to Dr. Wayne Purcell of Virginia Tech and I know that Dr. Purcell was instrumental in their adoption by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Glenn, though, began providing demand indexes to the National Pork Board back in the 1980s when the proposal for a mandatory hog checkoff (the checkoff to support generic promotion, advertising and research was voluntary prior to 1987) was being considered. Producers needed a simple, understandable way to measure the status of the demand for pork, beef, etc. The indexes did not tell us why demand changed but still provide a good way of communicating whether demand has changed. In addition, the indexes themselves have provided a multitude of opportunities for we economists to explain just what demand is and to thereby increase the knowledge level of our clients and constituents.

All of us have a short list of people who have made us who we are. Most would be like me and put their parents high on that list. Following them may be grandparents or a beloved uncle or aunt. And then would come the influencers — teachers, youth group leaders, pastors, scout leaders — who have challenged us and mentored us. My list would include Gary LaBeth, a sixth-grade teacher and coach who later became a minister. And Gerald Shuey, a science teacher who took me on my visit to a college campus at Oklahoma State. And Cecil Cox, a vo-ag instructor who told me in no uncertain terms that my talents were greater than my efforts and that it would be a shame to look back and say I did not do everything I could. Joe Williams, Bruce Bullock, Gene Futrell and George Ladd challenged me academically and professionally in graduate school and beyond.

And Glenn Grimes. When I joined the National Pork Producers Council in 1993, Glenn was a consulting economist to that organization. Most would have viewed my arrival as a threat. Not Glenn. He immediately began helping me understand the issues of the day, the data we had available and how he and I could work together to make the industry stronger. He provided sage advice about economics, analysis, industry politics and dealing with the press and critics. His admonition to “Never get in a pissing match with a skunk“ comes in handy even today. He is a personal treasure.

But do not get maudlin. Our loss will be the gain of the people of Columbia, MO and Glenn’s dear wife, Dot. He plans to be more active in Kiwanis Club and other community activities. He’s still in good health (and exercises a LOT more than I do!) and will, I’m confident be around for a good while. We just won’t have the privilege to work with him as we have. And that is our profound loss. Best wishes, Glenn!