AgriLife Extension hires beef specialist for Texas Plains

Jason Smith, Ph.D., is the new Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist serving the Texas Plains regions. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

AMARILLO – Jason Smith, Ph.D., has been named as the new Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist in Amarillo, serving the High Plains, South Plains and Rolling Plains. He began Sept. 1.

Smith, who is also an assistant professor in the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science, previously held the same Extension title with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture in Knoxville.

“We are excited to have Jason join our faculty and to provide leadership in the area of beef cattle nutrition and management,” said Cliff Lamb, Ph.D., department of animal science head, College Station. “Jason comes with a strong background in developing Extension programs and will be a great resource for our TAMU team and stakeholders.”

“The Plains of Texas are a unique production region and it takes someone with a broad background in beef cattle production to understand the complexities of beef production in the region,” said Ron Gill, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist and associate department head for animal science.

“Jason has a good background in the cow-calf and stocker production sectors, which will allow him to adapt quickly to this area of the state. It will certainly be different than cattle production in Virginia or Tennessee, but we are confident Jason can quickly develop an understanding and appreciation for beef production in this area and work to develop impactful educational programs and meaningful research projects. I am pleased and excited to have Jason join our Extension team.”

Raised in northern Virginia, Smith showed beef cattle at the local, state and national levels. Throughout that time, he worked for several commercial and seedstock beef cattle producers and developed a small cow herd with his family.

After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Virginia University, he spent two years as a ruminant nutritionist and biologist for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s medicated feeds team.

Smith then earned a doctorate at Virginia Tech, where he focused on better understanding the long-term implications of early nutritional management strategies on feed efficiency, marbling development and retail product quality of beef steers.

Smith said his primary interests in beef cattle extension are centered on developing and implementing educational efforts that increase producer knowledge of best management practices and their impact on beef cattle productivity, efficiency and profitability.

“By focusing on these efforts, I hope to facilitate the connection between both fundamental and applied research discoveries and producer application and use this to have a positive impact on the numerous beef cattle producers in the Texas Panhandle,” he said.

He said it was those cattle, along with the people and the environment, that brought him to Texas.

“I look forward to supporting and developing county-based educational programs that empower Texas Panhandle beef cattle producers,” Smith said. “I will use applied research to bridge the gap between basic and fundamental discovery and practical application in the field.”

Some of the major industry concerns he said he sees and expects to help address include:

– Minimizing input costs and optimizing productivity during times of drought and limited forage resources.

– Lack of use of processes and technologies that increase production efficiency.

– Connecting the dots between the major production sectors of the beef industry.

Smith currently serves on the extension committee for the Southern Section of the American Society of Animal Science and is a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Plains Nutrition Council and the American Society of Animal Science, as well as several other livestock affiliated associations.

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