Richard T. Crowder, professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been reappointed as the C.G. Thornhill Professor of Agricultural Trade by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke.

The C.G. Thornhill Professorship for Agricultural Trade was created in 2012 by C. Gordon Thornhill Jr., who earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science from Virginia Tech in 1975. The intent of the endowment is to help strengthen the curriculum in agricultural trade and to help prepare people entering the agriculture industry, who will face the challenges of participating in an expanding world market. Recipients hold the professorship for a period of five years.

Crowder, who has held the title of Thornhill Professor since 2013, has almost 50 years of experience in the agriculture and food sector, and has dedicated his career to advancing the interests of farmers, ranchers, and the industries that produce food and fiber.

Crowder spent most of his career in the food industry in executive positions with Wilson & Company, Pillsbury, Armour Swift Eckrich, DEKALB Genetics, and the American Seed Trade Association.

He served as the U.S. chief agriculture negotiator from January 2006 to May 2007, with the rank of ambassador. In this position, Crowder was responsible for directing all U.S. agricultural negotiations worldwide. For this service, he received the Distinguished Service Award by the United States trade representative, Executive Office of the President. He also served as a senior advisor to the United States Trade Representative from May 2007 to April 2008. 

In 1989, Crowder became undersecretary of international affairs and commodity programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this position, he managed the 1990 Farm Bill, was the U.S. agriculture negotiator for the Uruguay Round, and headed two presidential missions to the former Soviet Union to address food needs and policies of the former Soviet republics. He received two additional presidential appointments to serve on the board of directors of the Commodity Credit Corporation and the Rural Telephone Bank.

Since joining the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in 2008, Crowder created and organized an annual conference on international trade to educate Virginians and others around the world about the important role of international trade for food, natural resource, and agricultural products. The Virginia’s Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade has become a world-class symposium.

Crowder has received numerous awards for his work and service. Among them is the Virginia Tech Alumnus of the Millennium in 2000, the 2013 Distinguished Service Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Tech’s 2018 Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence, the 2010 Graduate Alumni Achievement Award, and the Virginia Agribusiness Council’s Alvin W. Blaha Distinguished Service Award.

Crowder received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degrees from Virginia Tech and his doctoral degree from Oklahoma State University.

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