Economics of Agriculture

The reality of today’s economy is that farms are just the beginning of the role of agriculture in world markets. Agriculture is about business and management as much as it is about production.

In today’s agricultural economy, farmers are constantly looking for additional information about risk management, technology, input strategies and more. Our faculty are engaged in research that helps farmers, and the agriculture industry as a whole, understand trends and make informed choices. We also look at the impact on agriculture of labor markets, technology, population trends, climate change, and increasingly complex trade policies. Beyond the farm, research and outreach are focused on domestic and international food systems, biotechnology, and intellectual property. Through our work we are helping to ensure that the agricultural sector continues to thrive.

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Economics of Agriculture Courses

AAE 215: Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics Introduction to economic ways of thinking about a wide range of problems and issues. Topics include consumption, production, prices, markets, finance, trade, pollution, growth, farms, taxes, and development.

AAE 319: The International Agricultural Economy The nature of trade in agricultural products, trade policies and practices of importing and exporting nations, agricultural policies of major trading blocks, market instability and other primary commodity problems, recent history and current developments in multilateral trade policy.

AAE 320: Agricultural Systems Management Methods of economic analysis, planning and management as applied to conventional and alternative farming systems.

AAE 322: Commodity Markets Principles and practices in marketing systems for U.S. agricultural commodities. Vertical organization; forward contracts, future markets, agricultural options and price formation. Alternate management at the farm, processor, wholesale and retail levels.

AAE 419: Agricultural Finance Introduction to basic finance concepts. Topics include financial statements, ratio analysis and interpretation, investment analysis, capital budgeting, credit concepts, and capital markets.

AAE 477: Agricultural and Economic Development in Africa Composition, organization, and techniques of agricultural production; economic change and development of agriculture, economic policies, special problems of developing African agriculture.

AAE 540: Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Technology Uses economic concepts to illustrate the nature of technological innovation, competition, and economic growth. Topics: Economics of the intellectual property protection (IPP); market structure and innovation; interaction between public and private sectors; IPP and anticompetitive policies; globalization

AAE 706: Applied Risk Analysis Conceptual empirical analysis of economic behavior under risk and its implications for management and policy decisions. Emphasis on economic applications to the agricultural and food sector.

AAE 746: Frontiers in Agricultural Economics 1 Economics of agricultural technology innovation and adoption, properties and measurement of production and productivity, and impact evaluation. Empirical methods, including surveys, experiments, randomized trials, and instrumental variable methods of testing applied microeconomic models.

AAE 747: Frontiers in Agricultural and Applied Economics 2 Organization, design, and performance of food and agricultural markets. Industrial organization; firm boundaries, contracting, and collective action; spatial, temporal, and quality dimensions of market design.

Economics of Agriculture Faculty

Sheldon (Xiaodong) Du

Associate Professor

(608) 262-0699

331 Taylor Hall

Jeremy Foltz


(608) 262-6871

421 Taylor Hall

Jeff Hadachek

Assistant Professor

(608) 262-2696

329 Taylor Hall

Paul Mitchell


(608) 265-6514

418 Taylor Hall

Charles Nicholson

Associate Professor

(608) 890-0924

321 Taylor Hall

Guanming Shi

Renk Agribusiness Chair, Professor and Department Chair

(608) 262-8966

433 Taylor Hall

Andrew Stevens

Assistant Professor

(608) 263-3212

330 Taylor Hall

Jing Yi

Faculty Associate

218 Taylor Hall

Economics of Agriculture News

Making food supply chains more resilient

September 12, 2023

Jeff Hadachek analyzed the ability of food supply chains to cope with external shocks, such as pandemics and extreme weather events.

Do breeding investments increase the productivity of Wisconsin dairy farms?

May 26, 2023

Sheldon Du showed that choosing bulls wisely helps increase the revenue of Wisconsin’s dairy farmers.

Diversifying the agricultural supply chain

April 25, 2023

Andrew Stevens studied the resilience of small companies in the agricultural and food sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.