ASU agribusiness professor named 2021 fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association

Tim Richards, a professor and the Marvin and June Morrison Endowed Chair in the Morrison School of Agribusiness at the W. P. Carey School of Business, was recognized in August as a 2021 Fellow of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association, AAEA’s most prestigious honor.

Richards, who began his academic career at Arizona State University in 1994, was nominated as a 2021 AAEA fellow for his past and continuous contributions to the advancement of agricultural and applied economics in research and teaching.

“There are few scholars in agricultural and applied economics today who are as productive, accomplished, well-rounded, respected and liked as Tim Richards,” said Mark Manfredo, former chair and professor of agribusiness.

“This means everything in my professional world, as I have looked up to the senior people in my field for over 25 years, respected them, emulated them and have tried to earn their respect,” Richards said. “In that regard, being fellow is something of a validation. It is particularly gratifying to be in this club, because I am different from them: I have never had anything to do with a land-grant college, where most of my colleagues are, as I went to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for my undergrad, Stanford for graduate school, and have been at ASU since graduation — and I now teach in the only agribusiness program in the world that is part of a top 30 business school. It is good to be different.” 

To date, his body of scholarly works include more than 120 published journal articles written over a period of 28 years appearing in 35 different journals. Richards and his co-authors have been awarded a total of 14 best paper awards over an array of topics, including the 2019 American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE) Outstanding Article Award.

Richards’ most prolific stream of research focuses on developing a greater understanding of the food marketing system, in particular the behavior of food retailers and consumers. He is also a leading expert in the efficacy of generic commodity promotion, food safety and nutrition, private label marketing, the role of social networks and, most recently, food waste mitigation. 

So far, 85 of Richards’ career journal articles focus on these and related food marketing topics, with 18 appearing in the AJAE.

“Tim is our profession’s single greatest repository of knowledge concerning food marketing and particularly for understanding the food retail sector, which drives business practices and policy postures throughout the entire farm-to-fork chain,” said Brian Roe, the Van Buren Professor at Ohio State University and a former AJAE editor.

“Tim’s research has contributed to a rich understanding of the breadth of complexities of the food marketing system, both in the agricultural and applied economics community and beyond,” said Steve Hamilton, one of Richards’ frequent co-authors, from the Orfalea College of Business, Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California.

Richards’ recent lines of research focus on food waste and farm labor. His 2018 paper, “Food Waste in the Sharing Economy,” co-authored with Hamilton and published in Food Policy, examined models of sharing economy firms (commercial peer-to-peer mutualization systems) for the exchange of surplus food.

Their findings from a two-sided network-demand model demonstrated that the demand for platform use from both growers and consumers rises in the number of users on each side of the platform, suggesting that policy tools designed at fostering such transactions in sharing markets could significantly reduce food waste. This paper received the Elsevier Atlas Award for research that can impact the world. From this work, Richards received a grant from the Department of Agriculture to study how to develop businesses that have emerged to help bruised yet otherwise good food get to market.

Regardless of the economic problem at hand, Richards brings together innovative ideas, state-of-the-art methods and the right data to make impactful contributions to the agricultural and applied economics field. He has long been at the forefront of research examining contemporary topics affecting the food and agricultural marketing system, including the COVID-19 pandemic. He has already co-authored three special-issue journal articles on COVID-19 impacts (accepted in the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Systems, and Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy), participated in webinars on the topic and contributed to several news stories.

Over the past six years, Richards has contributed his expertise to 84 unique news stories that were distributed to 677 online media outlets including USAToday.com, CNN.com, Bloomberg.com, Fortune.com, CNBC.com, CBS News and others.

“Tim is also is an outstanding mentor to graduate students and young faculty alike,” Manfredo said. “He has helped lots of young scholars in the profession.”

To date, seven of Richards’ PhD advisees are in academic positions, and 25 of his career papers are co-authored with his advisees.

“Tim is eager to disseminate his work to others and greatly interested in the ideas of other scholars, whether written or orally expressed,” Hamilton said.

Richards’ most distinguished professional service has been serving as an editor for the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, the flagship journal of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association. Before he completes his five-year term with the AJAE in 2022, he’ll begin a term as an editor with the European Review of Agricultural Economics this month.

Hunter McCormick
hjmccor1@asu.edu