McFadden Joins Division of Agriculture as Tyson Endowed Chair in Food Policy Economics

Brandon McFadden started work in August as the new Tyson Endowed Chair in Food Policy Economics.
U of A System Division of Ag photo by Fred Miller

Brandon McFadden started work in August as the new Tyson Endowed Chair in Food Policy Economics.

The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station is getting a boost in research on consumer behavior with Brandon McFadden as the new Tyson Endowed Chair in Food Policy Economics in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness.

The endowed position was established in 2006 to help attract researchers who are nationally recognized in their field. McFadden joined the experiment station, the research arm of the U of A System Division of Agriculture, in August.

"Dr. McFadden is currently one of the most prolific agricultural economists in the country working on consumer economics and food policy issues," said John Anderson, professor and head of the Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Department. "He has a well-deserved reputation for developing creative approaches to addressing timely and relevant problems related to food markets, consumer attitudes toward food and agriculture, and policy developments affecting the food and ag sector."

Anderson, who is also the director of the Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence within the U of A System, went on to say that McFadden is an "outstanding communicator and takes great pains to make sure that the results of his work make it into the hands of relevant stakeholders."

McFadden, who previously conducted research and taught at the University of Delaware and the University of Florida, is involved with several ongoing U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded studies. One is funded by a half-million-dollar grant to improve crop residue burning and management recommendations in the Arkansas Delta. That study includes partners at Arkansas State University, the U of A, the Division of Agriculture and Miami University.

Another big project is a $10 million USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to study sustainable aquaculture production of fish with high Omega-3 levels using hemp as a novel feed additive. That project includes partners at historically Black colleges and universities in Ohio and Kentucky and a Native American tribal college in Wisconsin.

His work is not confined to the borders of the United States either. Working with a student from Tanzania, Pius Kilasy, he helped identify knowledge gaps on vitamin deficiency among women in Tanzania who are of childbearing age. The paper on the study is currently in review for publication. The information obtained from the study, McFadden said, could help other countries with a high prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies.

"One interesting thing we found is 75 percent were aware of vitamin A and iron deficiency, but only about half were aware of zinc," McFadden said. "Now you know as a country there is a much larger lack of knowledge of zinc, and all three of those were mentioned as nutrients of importance in a publication released by Tanzania concerning micronutrient deficiency."

He said they also found that people generally underestimated the risk of micronutrient deficiency and found a lack of knowledge on both the negative impacts associated with micronutrient deficiency and the foods that reduce risk. They also used marketing research techniques in surveys to identify the value of "branding" biofortified crops.

"I essentially do marketing research just like you would for a firm, but to increase the well-being of consumers instead of firm profits," McFadden said. "I look for societal problems that could use marketing techniques to identify possible solutions." 

Another grant-funded study McFadden will soon begin involves consumer behavior research on crops grown with electronic waves as a pesticide control method. The experiment is being conducted at Oregon State University.

McFadden's work as an agricultural economist focuses on consumer knowledge — and confusion — in emerging markets to estimate consumer demand and what consumers value in those emerging markets. His research provides information that can help farmers, processors and manufacturers.

McFadden will also be teaching a graduate-level class next year through the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

"In addition to his expertise in research and outreach, Dr. McFadden is an outstanding teacher, not only because of his subject matter expertise, but also because of his exceptional ability to help students see the practical application and real-world value of complex economic concepts," Anderson added. "We are excited to have Dr. McFadden joining the department, and we look forward to seeing him carry on the tradition of world-class scholarship that is associated with the Tyson Chair position."

Born in Arkansas and raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, McFadden earned his bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. He completed his master's in agricultural economics at the U of A and his doctorate in agricultural economics with a minor in statistics at Oklahoma State University.

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit

About the Division of Agriculture: The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation's historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.



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