Assistant Professor and Kohl Junior Faculty Fellow
Ph.D., Food & Resource Economics, University of Florida, 2007
M.S., Food & Resource Economics, University of Florida, 1997
B.S., Animal Science, University of Florida, 1993
I contribute to AAEC through research, extension, and teaching. My research program goals are centered on real-world needs and wants communicated by Virginia’s rural, natural resource, and agribusiness owners, managers and consumers. My Extension initiatives center around productive projects motivated by input from Virginians and designed and delivered by teammates with the shared desire to build local-regional-national interdisciplinary programs and publications that have measurable impacts for the citizens of our state. My aim as an instructor and advisor is to connect each of my students with the material so that they take away from the course not just a grade and a degree, but true ownership of economic principles that can be utilized as an objective resource in their future endeavors.
“Problems are just opportunities in work clothes.” American Industrialist Henry Kaiser
My extension program objectives are based on a whole-system approach to solving problems and building solutions and partnerships with students and stakeholders throughout, and beyond, the project lifetime. It is my desire to develop economically-sound outreach programs that involve colleagues, clients and students in the learning process and result in providing added value to their agricultural and natural resource enterprises.
Market Ready Farm to Fork Direct Marketing Program: The goal of the program is to provide profitable alternatives to Virginia farmers and ranchers who are ready to explore direct marketing opportunities beyond the farm gate to meet consumer demand for food and fiber products provided by trusted sources. To reach our goal, we support the development of direct marketing curriculum and training, online resources, social networking, and farmer-to-buyer connections. Funding was provided by four grant and donor sources to support the program, more than a dozen VCE specialists were involved in the educational content development and delivery, and two new workshops have been requested by VCE and external partners for 2017. In addition, a team of Kohl Centre students worked closely with VCE specialists to develop and conduct field interviews of farmers and restaurants engaged in direct sales relationships, and they presented their video results during the workshops and wrote blog posts detailing their findings.
Market Ready Farm-to-Restaurant is a program developed specifically for producers who would like to get started or expand current operations to sell direct to restaurants and retailers. Topics include:
- Explore current food policy legislation
- Build relationships to better communicate with managers & chefs
- Design effective packaging and labeling
- Develop marketing strategies
- Craft alternative pricing structures
- Address regulatory concerns
- Use Virginia’s Market Maker portal to conduct market research.
Virginia Market Maker: The Market Maker portal is the largest and most in-depth national database for the agricultural industry. The portal provides a simple search tool to connect buyers, farmers/ranchers, fisheries, farmers markets, processors/packers, wineries, restaurants and more. With the generous support of our partners and stakeholders, VA Market Maker is available at NO COST to Virginia producers, processors and consumers.
- Launched Virginia MarketMaker portal in June 2015
- Mobile Virginia MarketMaker kiosk is available upon request statewide
- Virginia MarketMaker rack cards available upon request
- Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Agriculture and Enterprise Management and Marketing Program team leads the Virginia MarketMaker Action Team – contact your local county office to find a Virginia Market Maker expert.
Annie’s Project – COMING SOON TO VIRGINIA IN 2017! Annie's Project is an educational program dedicated to strengthening women's roles in the modern farm enterprise. The program combines lectures and hands-on activities devoted to the five components of economic risk inherent to any enterprise: marketing, production, financial, legal and human resources, and speakers include Extension specialists and industry experts. Currently, classes are being taught in 27 states. Through six educational sessions, Annie's Project fosters problem solving, record keeping, and decision-making skills and focuses specifically on women’s ways of learning and the development of long-term support networks critical for continued learning and improvement.
Recommended Resources for Producers, Agents, and Researchers
eXtension.org is an interactive learning environment delivering the best, most researched knowledge from the best land-grant university minds across America. eXtension connects knowledge consumers with knowledge providers - experts who know their subject matter inside out. eXtension is unlike any other search engine or information-based website. It's a space where university content providers can gather and produce new educational and informational resources on wide-ranging topics. Because it's available to students, researchers, clinicians, professors, as well as the general public, at any time from any Internet connection, eXtension helps solve real-life problems in real time.
Veggie Compass offers tools designed to help growers improve on farm decision making and financial farm planning in order to maximize profitability and ensure the continuation of sustainable farms. Veggie Compass is a farm management tool for diversified fresh market vegetable growers. The system focuses upon a comprehensive spreadsheet designed to facilitate the analysis of farm records. Using cost, sales and labor data, the spreadsheet calculates the cost of production for each crop and the profitability of each market channel (e.g., CSA, farmers market, wholesale, retail). For example, a grower can learn if broccoli sales are more lucrative at farmers markets or through wholesale distributors. The Veggie Compass spreadsheet requires farmers to enter financial, labor and sales data, creating a holistic picture of their farm financials. The tool can also be used to predict the financial impact of different farm scenarios for the future and to assess the farm’s financial progress. Such information can help farmers locate their efficiencies, set prices based on actual costs of production, and increase farm profits.
AgPlan helps rural business owners develop a business plan. Free, easy-to-use program guides individuals through all of the steps necessary to craft a written plan for business success.
National Agricultural Marketing Resource Center: This site was developed and maintained by staff and contributing writers tasked with meeting four goals: (1) Create and promote an electronic, web-based library with powerful search capabilities to make value-added information and other resources available to producers (includes website development and functions). Provide electronically available information and resources on value-added markets and industries including a wide variety of commodities and products (this includes the Commodities and Products and Markets and Industries sections of the website); (2) Provide value-added business and economic analysis tools, including information on business principles, legal, financial and logistical issues (information contained in the Business Development section of the website); (3) Conduct research and analysis on economic issues facing producers involved in value-added business ventures (this includes research activities on all topics included on the website); and (4) Conduct outreach activities to disseminate the research and information assembled and developed under the previous three goals.
Specific research objectives: understanding significant factors which influence specialty crop producers to adopt new technologies and/or pursue new marketing channels, such as machine harvesting, post-harvest handling procedures, alternative crop production, and direct-to-consumer sales; determining the physical, behavioral and demographic characteristics of consumers motivated to seek out food and food products sold directly from the farm, at either in-person or online venues; and assessing the economic impacts of natural or man-made hazards on the private and public sectors of our state.
Role of Graduate Students
I am a passionate advocate for the early involvement of undergraduate and graduate students in speaking engagements at both professional conferences and industry venues. Any great public speaker will tell you that practice is a sure way to improve your presentation content, delivery and ability to hold an audience’s attention. I encourage my students to conduct individual research projects and to pursue every opportunity to present their work at workshops, training programs, and individual or group meetings. I counsel students on the importance of preparing and delivering economically-sound, audience-appropriate content. To that end, I involve students in the early stages of grant preparation, multi-disciplinary team meetings, extension program design, development and delivery, survey design and implementation, paper competitions, television interviews, and consumer and grower focus group studies. I am 100% sure that the confidence and skills gained during this inclusive process has a great influence on their continued success in securing their targeted employment goals. My favorite Peter F. Drucker truism: “a good mentor or manager builds on people's strengths and helps them make their weaknesses irrelevant.” This is my goal as a course facilitator, student advisor and mentor.
USDA, NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. “Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Program VBFRCP: A Participatory Beginning Farmer and Rancher Education and Training Initiative.” Co-PI, ($74,848), $724,828, 12/14 – 11/17
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “Collectively Improving Watershed Health and Nutrient Improvement across the Shenandoah and Rappahannock River Basins” – Co-PI, ($41,327), $654,300, 12/13 – 12/17
- AAEC 2434 Foundations of Agribusiness
- AAEC 4514 Advanced Agricultural Marketing
- AAEC 4414 Applied Economic Problem-Solving
- AAEC 1005 Economics of the Food and Fiber System
- AAEC 4424 Agricultural Financial Management
Other Teaching and Advising
Advisor, Virginia Tech National Agri-Marketing Association Competition Team, 2014-present
- Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, 2013 – Present
- Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, 2008-2013
- Adjunct Economics Faculty, Southern New Hampshire University, 2002-2013
- Market Research Analyst, Florida Agricultural Market Research Center, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida, 2000-2008
- Biological Scientist, Large Animal Clinical Science Department, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, 1999-2000
- USDA National Needs Fellow, Agricultural Economics Department, Purdue University, 1998-1999
- Teaching and Research Assistant, Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida, 1996-1997
- Veterinary Technician, Aalatash Animal Hospital East/West, 1993-1996
- Owner/Operator of The Complete Horse, on-site horse and rider instruction, 1988-1994
Selected Major Awards
Nominated 2014 Virginia Tech Teacher of the Week
Recipient of 2014 Patrick J. Byrne Emerging Leadership Award, Food Distribution Research Society
Recipient (with Gordon Groover and Rose Jeter) of 2015 Farm Credit National Market Maker Innovation Award
Selected recent publications
Refereed Journal Articles
Maples, M., M. Interis, K.L. Morgan, and A. Harri. 2017, under revision. “Consumer Willingness to Pay for Environmental Production Attributes of Fresh Tomatoes.” Journal of Applied Agricultural Economics
Morgan, K.L, and M. Interis. 2017, under revision. “Who Buys MORE Directly from Producers in the Southeastern United States?” Journal of Food Distribution Research
Rodgers, A., Harri, A., Morgan, K.L., and J. Tack. 2016, under revision. “Technology Adoption and Risk Preferences: The Case of Machine Harvesting by Southeastern Blueberry Producers.” Journal of Food Distribution Research
Thapaliya, S., Interis, M., Morgan, K.L., L. Walters, and Collart, A. 2016, forthcoming. “Are Consumer Health Concerns Influencing Direct-from-Producer Purchasing Decisions?” Journal of Applied Agricultural Economics
M.A. Marchant and K.L. Morgan. 2016. “Lessons Learned from Teaching Large Classes.” North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture.
Morgan, K.L. and Maples, M.C. 2015. “Using Audience Response Systems for Extension Programming Impact Evaluation: Findings from Market Ready Farm-to-Restaurant Workshops Conducted in Mississippi and Arkansas.” Journal of Food Distribution Research 46(2): pp. 51-65.
Morgan, K.L. and M. Olmstead. 2013, August. “A Diversification Strategy for Perennial Horticulture in Florida.” HortTechnology 234
Maples, M.C., K.L. Morgan, M.G. Interis, and A. Harri. August, 2013. “Who Buys Food Directly from Producers in the Southeastern United States?” Journal of Applied Agricultural Economics 453: pp. 1-10.
Morgan, K.L., S. Larkin, and C. Adams 2011. “Empirical Analysis of Media versus Environmental Impacts on Park Attendance.” Tourism Management 324: 852-859.
Morgan, K.L., S. Larkin, and C. Adams. 2010. “Red Tides and Participation in Marine-based Activities: Estimating the Response of Southwest Florida Residents.” Harmful Algae 93:333-341
Morgan, K.L., S. Larkin, and C. Adams. 2009. “Firm-level Economic Effects of HABs: A Tool for Business Loss Assessment.” Harmful Algae 82:212-218.
Norman, S., K.L. Morgan, T. McNaughton, A. Vargo, A. Mark, K. Damian, K. Scott, C. Miller, S. Sharpe, and L. DuBois. 2017, forthcoming. “Sell What You Grow: A Guide to Navigating Your Virginia Farm Product Marketing Options.” Virginia Cooperative Extension Service Publication.
Morgan, K.L., P. Callan, A. Mark, K. Niewolny, T. Nartea, K. Scott, and J. Hilleary. 2016. “Farm Financial Risk Management Series Part I: Overview of Financial Systems for New and Beginning Farmers.” Virginia Cooperative Extension Service Publication, AAEC 114-P.
Morgan, K.L., P. Callan, A. Mark, K. Niewolny, T. Nartea, K. Scott, and J. Hilleary. 2016. “Farm Financial Risk Management Series Part II: Introduction to Farm Financial Statements for New and Beginning Farmers.” Virginia Cooperative Extension Service Publication, AAEC 115-P.
Morgan, K.L., P. Callan, A. Mark, K. Niewolny, T. Nartea, K. Scott, and J. Hilleary. 2016. “Farm Financial Risk Management Series Part III: Introduction to Farm Planning Budgets for New and Beginning Farmers.” Virginia Cooperative Extension Service Publication, AAEC 116-P.
Nartea, T., and K.L. Morgan. 2015. "Selling Directly to Buyers: How to Price Your Products," Virginia Cooperative Extension Service Publication, AAEC-97P.
Stafne, E., K. Morgan, and G.C. Pavlis. 2015. “Expanding the Vision for Blueberry Extension.” Proceedings of the 12th North American Blueberry Research and Extension Workers Conference. Available at Rutgers University Community Repository website.
Palma, M.A., K.L. Morgan, T. Woods and S. McCoy. 2013. “Response of Land-Grant Universities to the Increase in Consumer Demand for Local Foods in the South.” Choices Magazine, 284.
Recent Non-Refereed Publications (Peer reviewed)
Mark, A., K. Niewolny, K.L. Morgan, P. Callan, K. Scott, T. Nartea, C. Kloetzli, J. Hilleary, and R. Jeter. 2015. “Introduction to Labor Issues for Beginning Farmers.” AEE-106NP. Virginia Cooperative Extension. Virginia Tech.
Waldron, S., A. Pickett, and K.L. Morgan 2014. “Sometimes, Half the Road Is Not Enough™: A Public Safety Awareness Message to Improve Farm Equipment Safety on Public Roadways.” AAEC70-NP. Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech.
Price, E.F., K. Baugh, and K.L. Morgan 2014. “AgCache: An Innovative Marketing Tool for your Agribusiness.” AAEC72-NP, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech.