Darnell B. Smith
Darnell Smith passed away on May 17, 2016. The following is a reprint from the old Iowa Ag Review, September 1995.
Darnell’s obituary can be found at the Gass Haney Funeral Home website.
Darnell B. Smith, managing director of FAPRI at Iowa State, came to CARD in January 1993 from the University of Nebraska. A native of the Kearney, Nebraska, area, Darnell taught courses at both the University of Nebraska’s Lincoln and Kearney campuses and worked on the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Nebraska project in Lincoln. His experience as an analyst of Nebraska’s economy and business trends while on the staff at Nebraska’s Bureau of Business Research helped prepare him for the rigors of administering the day-to-day operations at FAPRI.
In addition to staying on top of the constant flow of information at FAPRI, Darnell’s job is to make sure that FAPRI’s models stay on the cutting edge of new theory and technology. He also oversees the networking with the FAPRI unit at the University of Missouri-Columbia, as staffers work toward faster transmission not of only data, but also of models and analysis. Analysts can now access centrally managed databases, create specialized databases for analytic model development, and store results of analysis for publication use in a central location—all without ever leaving their personal computers. According to Darnell, this capability has allowed full respecification of the international oilseed and dairy models with other livestock and crops models presently being restructured and updated. As he puts it, “The data management work is tedious, but we are finding efficiency gains to be dramatic.”
No stranger to the challenges of modern agriculture, Darnell grew up on a 600-acre farm in central Nebraska (“near the bend in the Platte River”). He describes it as the ultimate in diversified farming, producing corn, soybeans, sorghum, hogs, sheep, and cattle. His rural background makes him well aware of policy impacts at the farm level. Darnell is currently heavily involved in directing the analysis FAPRI is providing to lawmakers and commodity groups on the legislative policy options that will carry American agriculture into the next century.