My research focus areas include Livestock Economics, Animal Health Economics, Farm Business Management, and Rural Development. See below for more detail on research completed and projects in progress. I also research in the area of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
Economic Impact of Patch-Burning and Grazing
I have worked closely with the NREM Department as I mentor a graduate student (Hannah Baker) through the research process of understanding the economic impact of utilizing patch burning and grazing in the Great Plains. This research area has been a ‘textbook example’ of how an applied question can be utilized in all three arms of the land grant mission. Patch-burning and grazing is not a new concept and studies from the NREM field have illustrated the benefits, yet cattle producers were reluctant to adopt the practice due to costs. Our research looked to fill the missing gap in the literature while answering the question producers had (Why would I want use patch burning?). The research determined that while costs in the first year were higher for implementing patch burning in comparison to traditional burning, the overall benefit of a reduction in the need for supplemental feed far outweighed the increased costs. The results of this project have been presented at academic conferences in addition to producers across the region. The Extension program of this project has reached hundreds of producers and was awarded First Place in the Graduate Student Extension Competition as a part of the AAEA annual meeting. A factsheet is in review to be published by OSU Extension, and I have incorporated the cost-benefit analysis of this particular study into my Farm and Agribusiness Management Class. I will continue my collaborations with the NREM Department as we as continue our research looking into the impact of cedar encroachment on livestock producers.
Hannah Baker, M.S. student pictured on left, has utilized her science communication and training at OSU to share her research through popular press articles, extension programs, and a video short by the OSU agricultural communications department. Hannah Baker also won first place in the Graduate Student Extension Competition at the AAEA annual conference in 2022. You can see her presentation here: https://vimeo.com/735569203/a9ade4585b
Experience vs Expertise: Preparing Graduate Students
Preparing the next generation of educators, researchers, and policy influencers is an ongoing and imperative task. Graduate student programs focus heavily on course work and preparing graduate students to complete independent research. However, students and faculty must often create custom training and mentorship in teaching, extension, or policy communication outside of the typical plan of study. Many graduate students will enter the job market having had minimal, if any: formal preparation in teaching skills such as creating a syllabus or developing curriculum; extension skills such a program development or program assessment; non-technical writing for student or public audiences; or soft skills in communication with media, collegiate or policy decision makers, and the general public.
A brief survey was shared with agricultural graduate programs across the US in order to assess the graduate student experience in teaching, research, extension, and leadership training. The survey was shared via email in late December of 2021 to department heads and graduate program coordinators at all departments mentioned as being associated with the AAEA (with graduate programs). Survey responses are still being collected, but presently, 91 graduate students have completed the survey from more than 14 different graduate programs in agricultural economics. Given responses are still being collected and the population size of agricultural economics graduate students, we do not believe the results are representative yet; however, they provide some insight nonetheless.
Twenty-five of the ninety-one graduate students (27 percent) indicated they did not have an understanding of Extension education. For those students indicating they did not have an understanding of Extension, they were presented with the following question: “Extension education focuses on extending university knowledge and resources to communities throughout the state in which they serve by determining what the local community needs are and developing educational programs to address the community issues. Given this definition, is Extension education an area that interests you and your potential career path?” By providing this short description, fourteen of the twenty-five students indicating having no understanding of Extension education would be interested in Extension as a career.
When asked if they plan to pursue a career with an Extension focus or appointment, 32 respondents indicated yes (thirty-five percent). Students were also asked if they had the opportunity to participate in extension-based research or assist in extension activities during their graduate program, to which thirty-one students indicated they had the opportunity. When combining these two previous survey questions, fifteen respondents indicated that they were interested in pursuing a career in Extension but had not had the opportunity to participate in Extension activities. Respondents were also asked if they felt their program had adequately offered them opportunities to be trained in program evaluation, policy communication, and media/news communication. Fifty-one percent of respondents indicate they have had program evaluation training opportunities, forty-one percent indicate they have had policy communication training opportunities, and twenty-five percent indicate they have had media/new communication training opportunities.
U.S. Cow-Calf Production Efficiency
The objective of this study is to examine the efficiency of beef cow-calf production across key producing areas in the United States. This study will estimate technical, allocative, scale, and overall efficiency of cow-calf operations, as well as, identify how production characteristics and certain management decisions may impact production efficiency.
Beef cow-calf production in the United States is widespread, occurring in every state. Nearly 729,046 farms, about 36 percent of the 2.0 million farms in the United States, had a beef cow inventory in 2017. Most of these were small, part-time operations. Nearly 80 percent had fewer than 50 cows. Given that the cow-calf sector is the beginning of the beef industry structure, understanding the factors influencing profitability, efficiency, and changes in structure is very important. Beef cow-calf operations vary considerably in size, available resources, profitability, and the use of technology. This suggests room to improve management practices, both production and financial.
Results from this study will identify characteristics of producers with high efficiency and low efficiency operations in the cow-calf industry. Analysis from this study will provide information about relative efficiency for the different producer classifications and will provide results that are directly applicable to producers within the cow-calf industry. In addition to providing an analysis of cow-calf production efficiencies across the United States, this study will add to the discussion as how to best estimate and parameterize efficiency measures (parametric vs non-parametric, profit maximizing vs cost minimizing, and input vs output orientation).
Preliminary results focusing only on cow-calf production in Kansas were presented virtually as a part of the AAEA 2020 Annual Conference.
Presentation Slides: AAEA 2020 – Assessing Efficiency of US Cow-Calf Operations
Animal ID & Traceability in the Beef Industry
Abstract: Livestock traceability has increasingly become a focus for the USDA, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, high-volume beef-exporting states, and other beef industry stakeholders. The focus on traceability within the U.S. began after several international animal disease outbreaks and continues to be of importance with African Swine Flu spreading across Asia. Mitigating adverse future disease outbreaks, as well as maintaining export markets through a positive international perception of U.S. beef has become a top priority. Implementing a national disease traceability program would enable the industry to track and reduce the potential losses due to an outbreak. However, such a system comes at a large cost, mainly to cow-calf producers.
This study utilizes an equilibrium displacement model (EDM) to determine the impact of a disease outbreak within the U.S. The analysis compares the impact of a disease outbreak, both with and without a cattle disease traceability system in place. Utilizing the EDM allows us to provide a comparison of how the various beef sectors would need to respond to offset the costs of a national disease traceability program.
Preliminary Results: The direct cost estimate to implement a national beef traceability program is approximately $150 million. The economic impacts of such a program are a little harder to estimate, but a partial equilibrium displacement model is used to determine the impact, as well as what changes in domestic and international beef demand would be needed to offset the cost of implementing a national program. A 17.7% increase in international beef demand would off-set implementation costs, while an increase in 1.9% of domestic demand would offset implementation costs.
Full results presented at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky Feb. 1-4, 2020.
See our industry symposium presentation here: CattleTrace Symposium
Food Security in West Africa
Abstract: Food security is always a concern for consumers, but especially for those in West Africa, where the population of food insecure people has continued to grow over the past decade despite attempts by initiatives such as the World Food Program and the establishment of Millennium Development Goals. The people of West Africa are subject to repetitive natural disasters and are often in political upheaval. Many economic policies have been established to mitigate the impact that production disasters have on the consumers; one of these policies is the utilization of regional food reserves.
In 2010, the Economic Community of West African States began to develop a Regional Food Reserve. To analyze the effect a Regional Food Reserve could have on West African consumers due to a production shock, a spatial partial equilibrium model was utilized to analyze reserve stock management and its impact on price behavior and food security at a regional level.
The model allowed for projected increases in population and gross domestic product (GDP). After creating a deterministic base year for 2013, 2018, and 2023, the impact of a production shock (based on historical and projected data) was simulated. Analysis of these shocks suggests the maximum reserve size needed to address the greatest decrease in consumption is approximately 187 (1000MT).
Full Report: Regional Food Reserve for West Africa