Student wins undergraduate thesis award

Outstanding Student Spotlight Series: A Q&A with Thomas Allen

Major:  Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics
Graduation: May 2014
Hometown:  Dalhart, TX

Thomas AllenOn his time at Texas A&M…

What did you enjoy most about studying agribusiness and agricultural economics?
For agribusiness, I enjoyed getting to work in the finance and accounting classes. I know it sounds nerdy, but I really enjoy working with numbers and I felt having financial and accounting skills would benefit me in any field I would go into.

For agricultural economics, I really enjoyed the “puzzle.” Each assignment I did for economics was like fitting pieces together and determined what made the most sense in the economy.

On winning the Outstanding Thesis Award for Undergraduate Research Scholars Program…

What was the topic of your undergraduate thesis?
I wrote my thesis on water economics and environmental implications of hydraulic fracturing in the Eagle Ford Shale. Basically, I was trying to determine the value of water to hydraulic fracturing companies as it is compared to value to agricultural users (such as farmers and ranchers) and municipal and industrial users (such as utility companies in communities).

I was able to accomplish this by looking at the residual returns (essentially the net income) to these users without water then comparing that to the returns to the same users with water. The increase in returns with water being used was assumed to be the value of the water. Putting together the metrics required extensive research from various venues including, Texas A&M AgriLife, the UT Bureau of Economic Geology, the Texas Municipal League, the Texas Water Development Board, and many other sources both from the industry and from the government.

My results indicate that water in hydraulic fracturing has a value of $200,000 per acre-foot as compared to $100 per acre-foot for agriculture and approximately $2,000 per acre-foot for municipal and industrial use. After looking at values, I then did a short cross-referencing chapter to determine if fracturing was harmful to the environment or not. My findings indicate that there is not enough evidence to put blame on hydraulic fracturing for health problems in the respective shale areas.

On his future…

Now that you’ve taken a job with JBS Five Rivers Cattle Company, what are some of your job duties?
When I was given the offer to work at JBS, I was given the option to either work in the feeding operations or in cattle procurement. Taking the advice of a gentleman I spoke with when I was doing my second round of interviews for the company, I decided that the feeding mills would be the best fit for me at least at the beginning.

Therefore, I will be making sure that the appropriate amount of feed is coming in at all times, I will be making sure that the workers have the right amount of work each day, and I will make sure that the feed mill is working properly at all times.

What are you most looking forward to with your career?
I am very excited to be returning to the panhandle and getting to work in the cattle industry. I firmly believe that the finest line of work is the opportunity to convert forages and protein into beef and I am ecstatic to be a part of it.

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a farmer like my dad, but I never really knew how I was going to get to that point or, when I came to Texas A&M, what I wanted to study to get to that point. Now I can say that I think I made the right choices in college and am getting the opportunity to do something that I have always wanted to do.

… I feel that my experiences far exceeded my expectations, and I learned so much from my peers and from my education. I am excited to be taking these next steps in my life, but I will never forget my time here at Texas A&M.            -Thomas Allen