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James MacDonald

Branch Chief

Jim MacDonald is chief of the Agricultural Structure and Productivity branch. The branch is responsible for developing data and research that: measures and explains productivity growth in agriculture; assesses the causes and effects of the changing structure and organization of U.S. farms; examines changes in business relationships between farms and their suppliers and buyers, and how those changes affect farm performance and government programs.


Prior to assuming his present position in 2001, Jim was senior economist in the Food Economics Division at ERS, where his research covered such topics as consolidation in meatpacking, competition and pricing in USDA commodity procurement programs, the measurement of food price indexes, and the effects of railroad deregulation on agriculture. Jim has also been a faculty member at Hamilton College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Jim received a Ph.D in economics from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also received an M.A. from SUNY Buffalo and a B.S. from Siena College.

Professional Affiliations:
Jim is a member of the American Economic Association, the American Agricultural Economics Association, and the Industrial Organization Society.

Selected Publications:

Selected Recent Articles in Journals

"Market Power in Poultry Production Contracting? Evidence from a Farm Survey" (with Nigel Key).Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, forthcoming (2012).

 "Foregoing Subtherapeutic Antibiotics: the Impact on Broiler Grow-out Operations" (with Sun Ling Wang).Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, 33 (Spring, 2011): 79-99.

 "Adoption of Technology, Management Practices, and Production Systems in U.S. Milk Production" (with Aditya R. Khanal and Jeffrey Gillespie).Journal of Dairy Science93 (December, 2010): 612-622.

  "The Minimum Wage, Restaurant Prices, and Labor Market Structure" (with Daniel Aaronson and Eric French). Journal of Human Resources43 (Summer, 2008): 688-720.

"How Firms Construct Price Increases: Responses to Minimum Wage Increases" (with Daniel Aaronson). American Journal of Agricultural Economics88 (May 2006): 292-307.

"Technology, Labor Wars, and Producer Dynamics: Explaining Consolidation in Beefpacking" (with Michael Ollinger). American Journal of Agricultural Economics87 (November 2005): 1020-1033.

"Tracing the Effects of Agricultural Commodity Prices on Food Costs" (with Catherine Morrison Paul). American Journal of Agricultural Economics85 (August 2003): 633-646.

Selected Recent Book Chapters

"Reshaping Agricultural Production: Geography, Farm Structure, and Finances" (with Robert Hoppe and Eric O'Donoghue), inFarming, Finance, and the Global Marketplace. Alan Barkema and Jason Henderson, eds. Kansas City, MO:  Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. 2010.

 "The Agriculture Industry" (with Bruce M. Marion), in The Structure of American Industry, 12th edition. James Brock, ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008.

 "Structural Change in U.S. Agriculture" (with Robert Hoppe and David Banker), in Policy Reform and Adjustment in the Agricultural Sectors of Developed Countries. David Blandford and Berkeley Hill, eds. London: CABI Publishing. June, 2006.

Bulletins and Reports

Small Farms in the United States: Persistence Under Pressure(with Robert A. Hoppe and Penni Korb). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Information Bulletin No. 63. February, 2010.

The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture: Scale, Efficiency and Risks(with William D. McBride). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Information Bulletin No. 43. January, 2009.

 The Economic Organization of U.S. Broiler Production.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Information Bulletin No. 38. June, 2008.

Agricultural Contracting Update: Contracts in 2005(with Penni Korb). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Information Bulletin No. 35. April, 2008.

 Profits, Costs, and the Changing Structure of Dairy Farming(with Erik O'Donoghue, William McBride, Richard Nehring, Carmen Sandretto, and Roberto Mosheim). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Research Report No. ERR-47. September, 2007.


Last updated: Thursday, April 25, 2013

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