James M. MacDonald

Acting Branch Chief
202-694-5610
james.macdonald@usda.gov

Briefly

Jim MacDonald is acting chief of the Structure, Technology, and Productivity branch. The branch’s work focuses on four topics. One is the measurement and analysis of agricultural productivity. Second, the branch focuses on the economics of scientific research, and the development of new biological and physical technologies, for use in agriculture. It analyzes the application of new and existing production practices, management systems, and technologies on farms. Finally, it studies the changing organization and structure of farms and the farm sector. The branch also bears major responsibility for the annual Agricultural Research Management Survey, USDA’s primary source of data and farm and farm household finances and field-level production practices.

Jim’s area of specialization lies in industrial organization, with a focus on empirical research on the topics of competition, firm organization, innovation, and industry consolidation.  In this position, he has sought to apply that focus to U.S. agriculture, with work focusing on consolidation of agricultural production, competition in markets for agricultural commodities, the use of contracts in agriculture, and the organization of farms.

Background

Prior to assuming his present position in 2001, Jim was senior economist in the Food Economics Division at ERS. He has also been associate professor of Economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1987-1994), and adjunct professor at Rensselaer’s School of Management (1994-2010). Jim started his career at ERS in 1980. Currently, he is also on the faculty of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland.

Education

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. in economics from Siena College.

Professional Affiliations

Jim is a member of the American Economic Association and the Industrial Organization Society. He is a member and Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

Selected Publications

Selected Recent Articles in Journals

"Research, Productivity, and Output Growth in U.S. Agriculture” (with Keith Fuglie, Matt Clancy, and Paul Heisey). Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 49 (November, 2017): 514-554.

"Consolidation, Concentration, and Competition in the Food System”. Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Volume 102, Special Issue: "Agricultural Consolidation: Causes and the Path Forward” (September 2017): 85-105.

"Concentration, Contracting, and Competition Policy in U.S. Agribusiness.” Concurrences: Competition Law Review, No. 1, 2016 (February).

"Trends in Agricultural Contracts”. Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues. August, 2015.

"The Economics of Contract Grower Protection Legislation: The Packers and Stockyards Act and GIPSA Rule” (with Steven Wu). Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues. August, 2015.

"Railroads and Price Discrimination: The Roles of Competition, Information, and Regulation”. Review of Industrial Organization 43 (August, 2013): 85-101.

"Market Power in Poultry Production Contracting? Evidence from a Farm Survey" (with Nigel Key). Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 44 (November 2012): 477-490.

Selected Recent Book Chapters

"CAFOs: Farm Animals and Industrialized Livestock Production” in Oxford Encyclopedia of Environmental Science. Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199389414.013.240. July, 2018.

 "Agriculture” (with Bruce M. Marion), in The Structure of American Industry, 13th edition. James Brock, ed. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2015. 

Bulletins and Reports

America’s Diverse Family Farms, 2019 Edition (with Chrsitine Whitt and Jessica Todd). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Information Bulletin No. 214. December, 2019.

Changes in the Size and Location of U.S. Dairy Farms. U.S Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. Mandated Report to Congress. June, 2019.

Three Decades of Consolidation in U.S. Agriculture (with Robert Hoppe and Doris Newton). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Information Bulletin No. 189. March, 2018.

Changing Structure, Financial Risks, and Government Policies for the U.S. Dairy Industry (with Jerry Cessna and Roberto Mosheim). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Research Report No. 205. March, 2016.

Economics of Antibiotic Use in U.S. Livestock Production (with Stacy Sneeringer, Nigel Key, William McBride, and Ken Mathews). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Research Report No. 200. November, 2015.

Technology, Organization, and Financial Performance in U.S. Broiler Production. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Information Bulletin No. 126. June, 2014.

Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming (with Penni Korb and Robert Hoppe). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Economic Research Report No. 152. August, 2013.