Agricultural and Resource Economics

Jun 14, 2013 Debra Cheung


To apply economics and quantitative principles to problems in agriculture, the environment, management, and marketing and to disseminate knowledge and information on these subjects through teaching and outreach.


The department consists of 24 Senate faculty, 1 sr. lecture SOE, 5 CE specialists for a total of 11.8 I&R, 13.2 OR, 1.0 Unit 18, and 5.0 CE FTE. In addition, three professional researchers are housed in the department. By the year 2006, 5 faculty (1.8 I&R , 2.2 OR, and 1.0 CE FTE) will have reached age 65.

Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department (current)

The department consists of 24 Senate faculty, 1 sr. lecture SOE, 5 CE specialists for a total of 11.8 I&R, 13.2 OR, 1.0 Unit 18, and 5.0 CE FTE. In addition, three professional researchers are housed in the department. By the year 2006, 5 faculty (1.8 I&R , 2.2 OR, and 1.0 CE FTE) will have reached age 65.

  1. Agricultural economics and policy
  2. Natural resource and environmental economics and policy
  3. Developmental economics
  4. Human resources, labor, and consumer economics
  5. Quantitative economics and methods

Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department (5-10 years)

No changes in the thrust areas themselves, although human resources, labor, and consumer economics may be somewhat de-emphasized.

Program Impact/Ranking

Our graduate program was ranked second in the nation, according to a recent survey. Measured by number of articles published by an academic department in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, the leading journal in agricultural and resource economics, UC Davis has ranked either first or second in every year except one since 1990. Several members of our faculty have received national and international awards for research, teaching, and outreach.

Extramural Grants and Gifts

Direct cost expenditures for 1997/98 were $864,671 and for 1998/99 were $748,165. Fund sources include USDA, DANR, NOAA, UC-Mexus, UC-Pac Rim, CA Resources Agency, state water and transportation boards. EPA, and numerous industry sources. These figures do not account for significant faculty research activities that were administered outside the department through the Agricultural Issues Center, or the Institute of Governmental Affairs, among others.

Teaching Programs of the Department

The department provides graduate training for M.S. and Ph.D. students, with current graduate student enrollment totaling about 75. In addition, the department has one of the largest undergraduate programs at UC Davis with over 800 students in the managerial economics major. The total number of annual student credit hours taught by the department was 22,182 in 1997-98 and 25,556 in 1998-99. The ratio of student FTE per I&R faculty and unit 18 was 38.5 in 1997-98 and 44.4 in 1998-99. This ratio is more than double the campus average. The undergraduate and graduate teaching focuses on applied economic theory, quantitative methods and problem solving approaches. We anticipate no significant change in graduate student enrollment over the next five to 10 years. The undergraduate enrollment will depend on whether or not the department receives additional support from the college for teaching purposes. Without additional support, a quota will be placed on undergraduate enrollment. The department is currently undergoing external review for purposes of accreditation of our undergraduate major in managerial economics.

Outreach/Extension Roles

The department has five CE specialists. The program areas covered by these specialists include financial management, dairy and biotechnology, fruit and vegetable marketing, agricultural sustainability, and farm business decision making. The department also has a one-half time staff outreach coordinator position. Looking forward, the department has requested a CE position in processed fruits and vegetable marketing that has been on the college priority list for the past few years. We also need additional CE expertise in international trade of agricultural and resource commodities.

Positions Needed to Improve Research, Teaching and Extension Goals

  1. A faculty member in the area of agricultural markets has been denied tenure (effective July 1, 1999) and we anticipate filling this position as quickly as possible.
  2. A position in agricultural finance to provide some department strength in addressing a wide range of issues including financial evaluation of investments, debt restructuring, agricultural credit, and trends affecting the financial health of agriculture in the state.
  3. A full time lecturer (SOE) position in marketing management, to help address the unusually high teaching load in the Department.
  4. A position in the economics of household decision making; to bolster campus strengths in quantitative social science research with interdisciplinary work on issues such as food demand and nutrition, health, employment, gender roles and fertility decisions.
  5. A position in applied econometrics; as part of any center for Quantitative Research in Social Sciences that may come out of the initiative process.
  6. A position in environmental economics; to play a role in integrating the behavioral and applied environmental sciences on campus, as part of the Environmental Initiative.
  7. A CE position in processed fruits and vegetable marketing.
  8. A CE position in international trade of agricultural and resource commodities.

"Zero-Sum Strategy" (2006)

According to Directive #97-101 from the vice provost (Academic Planning and Personnel), position 1 should be an FTE that remains in the department because it was a tenure denial and the department voted against tenure. However, the position has not yet been released back to the department. Positions 2, 4, 5, and 7 could be filled via retirement replacements under a no-growth scenario.

"10-Percent Initiative-based Growth Strategy"

This scenario would result in 1.8 I&R and position 2 and 4 would be a top priorities. However, if the college wishes to keep the student credit hours that our department is currently handling, we would require three or four additional positions, including position 3, a lecturer with security of employment. Positions 4), 5) and 6) all fit in well with existing campus Initiatives.

Projected Resource Needs and Strategies for Achieving

The current college funding for "special facilitates" fails to recognize the unique needs of social scientists in our department. Our department has an extensive library and computer lab, for which we receive no college support because, for some reason, neither are recognized as "special facilities." Unlike specialists in other departments, our CE specialists receive no funding for "special facilities." This was an arbitrary decision made in the past and we believe it requires re-examination.

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