Maria Bowman

Maria Bowman

Research Agricultural Economist (Conservation Liaison)


Maria is a Research Agricultural Economist in the Conservation and Environment Branch of the Resource and Rural Economics Division. She studies the economic and environmental impacts of conservation and soil health management in U.S. agriculture, including the costs and benefits of cover crop use for farmers and for society.

In her role as Conservation Liaison, she represents ERS’ conservation work to USDA and external stakeholders, and incorporates stakeholder priorities and feedback into the research process. She also leads ERS’ work developing public-facing information on the conservation title of the farm bill.

Maria’s previous research has considered the economics of antibiotic use in U.S. livestock operations, economic issues related to process-based/sustainability labeling, agricultural drivers of deforestation in Brazil, and the economics of smallholder agriculture and natural resource use in Brazil and Mozambique.    


Maria worked at ERS from 2014-2018, and re-joined ERS in 2021. From 2018-2021, she served as Lead Scientist for the Soil Health Partnership, a program of the National Corn Growers Association that partners with farmers to trial soil health management practices and collect on-farm data to evaluate the economic and environmental risks and benefits. Maria has also held research and project management roles at the Natural Resources Defense Council (2013-2014), and the Woodwell Climate Research Center (2006-2008).


Maria received a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. She also earned an M.S. in Forestry from Virginia Tech and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Juniata College.

Professional Affiliations

Agricultural and Applied Economics Association
Soil and Water Conservation Society
Association of Environmental and Resource Economists

Selected Publications

Wood, S., and M. Bowman. 2021. "Large-Scale Farmer-Led Experiment Demonstrates Positive Impact of Cover Crops on Multiple Soil Health Indicators," Nature Food 2(2): 97–103.

Kuchler, F., M. Bowman, M. Sweitzer, and C. Greene. 2020. "Evidence from Retail Food Markets That Consumers Are Confused by Natural and Organic Food Labels," Journal of Consumer Policy 43(2):379-395.

Sneeringer, S., Short, G., MacLachlan, M., and M. Bowman. 2020. "Impacts on Livestock Producers and Veterinarians of FDA Policies on Use of Medically Important Antibiotics in Food Animal Production." Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 42(4):674–94.

Bowman, M., and L. Lynch. 2019. "Government Programs that Support Farmer Adoption of Soil Health Practices: A Focus on Maryland’s Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program," Choices 34(2), 2nd Quarter.

Bowman, M., K. Marshall, F. Kuchler, and L. Lynch. 2016. "Raised Without Antibiotics: Lessons from Voluntary Labeling of Antibiotic Use Practices in The Broiler Industry," American Journal of Agricultural Economics 98(2):622–42.

Bowman, M. 2016. "Impact of Foot-and-Mouth Disease Status on Deforestation in Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado Municipalities between 2000 and 2010," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 75:25–40.

Bowman, M., and D. Zilberman. 2013. "Economic Factors Affecting Diversified Farming Systems," Ecology and Society 18(1).

Bowman, M., Soares-Filho, B., Merry, F., Nepstad, D., Rodrigues, H., and O. Almeida. 2012. "Persistence of Cattle Ranching in the Brazilian Amazon: A Spatial Analysis of the Rationale for Beef Production," Land Use Policy 29(3): 558–68.

Nepstad, D., Soares-Filho, B., Merry, F., Lima, A., Moutinho, P., Carter, J., Bowman, M., Cattaneo, A., Rodrigues, H., Schwartzman, S., McGrath, D.G., Stickler, C.M., Lubowski, R., Piris-Cabezas, P., Rivero, S., Alencar, A., Almeida, O., and O. Stella. 2009. “The End of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon,” Science 326:1350–1351.