Agricultural economics research at the University of Kentucky demonstrates a top tier model for successfully conducting application focused, decision making based inquiry to contribute to the academic body of knowledge empirically, methodologically and theoretically. A skilled team of faculty, staff and graduate students continues to build multiple nationally and internationally recognized research programs. Key factors behind this accomplishment include the synergism enjoyed by a highly congenial environment and active pursuit of innovation in quantitative modeling, creativity in conceptual relationships and intellectual stimulation in a collaborative disciplinary and multidisciplinary setting.

Current Research Areas

Ag Marketing and International Trade
From farmer to consumer is the best way to explain ag marketing and international trade. Research in this area can include almost anything involved in moving agricultural products from the farm to the consumer, whether it be local or across international boundaries. Research on commodity promotion, demand and price analysis, and how tax affects food demand can help determine what is produced. In particular, we have extensive experience working with the U.S. FDA on tobacco product demand and partial equilibrium modeling of international trade at very disaggregate level.
Agribusiness is more than just the business of farming. It includes all of the firms and businesses associated with farming as well. Research in agribusiness addresses issues of importance to agribusiness and farm firms, including assessing consumer preferences and demand for specific product characteristics, product selection, choice of production technology, identification of marketing or merchandizing methods, identification of means to address regulatory requirements (e.g., food safety) and determination of most appropriate methods to best finance the capital needs of the business. Research on food safety includes a producers' strategic choice of food safety certifiers as well as the benefits of food safety certification to both producers and consumers. We are currently conducting the first research on producers' choice of food safety certifiers (certification bodies).
Ag Policy and Risk Management
Policies often develop as governments attempt to manage risk or to achieve specific outcomes such as a guaranteed supply level or price stability. Agriculture risk includes a wide range of areas including such uncontrollables as weather and disease. Our research in this area is as diverse as agriculture risk - from research on the concerns of legalizing the production and marketing of industrial hemp in Kentucky to to research on index insurance against natural disasters in developing and emerging economies.
Natural Resource and Environmental Economics
Balancing the value of the environment with economic activity often involves making hard decisions. In order to obtain this balance, all the costs and benefits must be examined. Most people profess to value the protection of farmland and the environment. But the question remains how much? Are people willing and able to pay?
Production Economics and Agricultural Finance
Research exploring optimal production management decisions, profit maximizing resource allocation, economic opportunities for alternative production practices, promise of new technologies and management strategies, production risk management and farm finance underpin the primary focus herein. Areas of noteworthy research accomplishment at UK include determining optimal adaptive farm management behavior using whole farm analytical programming models, assessment of precision agriculture opportunities for increased farm profitability and reduced risk, economics of biofuel feedstock production and suitable field day prediction.
Quantitative Methods
Quantitative methods use numerical data analyzed using mathematically based methods to explain the results of a hypothesis. Statistics, discrete-choice models (such as multinomial logit models) panel data, surveys, hedonic framework and multiple regression are some of the methods employed.
Rural Economic Development and International Development
Development economics is about understanding the mechanisms that cause some communities--from countries to counties---to prosper, while not others. In this time of unprecedented movement of ideas, tastes, people, and products, finding how communities can harness these potential forces for growth is an important and major challenge.
AgEcon Teaching/Education/Textbooks
Improvements and innovation in education result from research and reflection. Education is no longer only face-to-face but long-distance as well as students and universities seek to reduce costs and universities seek to reach more non-traditional students. Experiential education is becoming more and more important as employers look for employees who already have the needed skills.