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John Bovay

Assistant Professor
John Bovay portrait
250 Drillfield Dr.
216-I Hutcheson Hall

John Bovay is an assistant professor in Food and Agricultural Policy. Much of his work focuses on the economics of regulation, with applications to the topics of food-safety regulation, food labeling (including labeling of genetically engineered food), and food waste. He strives to be actively engaged with agricultural producers, organizations, and commodity groups in Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic to ensure that these groups have access to a timely economic analysis of relevant policies.

Expertise:

Education:

Ph.D., Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California at Davis, 2014

B.A., Mathematics and Politics, Washington and Lee University, 2007

Bovay’s outreach program is tightly integrated with his research agenda. Bovay’s goals for outreach involve effectively increasing awareness and knowledge of policymakers, producers, and consumers about the economics of food labeling, food safety, the environment-agriculture interface, and local food production and demand. In order to achieve these goals, it is important to build effective interdisciplinary collaborations. Thus, his outreach and extension activities revolve around (1) dissemination of economics research to policymakers, producers, and consumers, in addition to academic colleagues in other disciplines; (2) grant-funded interdisciplinary collaborations with natural and other social scientists, in which he uses economic tools to solve complex problems around agricultural and food policy, production, technology, and sustainability.

Bovay also leads AAEC's Extension activities and serves as co-chair of Virginia Cooperative Extension's Agribusiness Management & Economics program team.

In 2021, Bovay organized a series of webinars, "Virginia Sustainable Farms and Agribusiness Education Initiative" covering a variety of topics related to economic viability, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility. The webinars are available at https://aaec.vt.edu/extension/va-sustainable-farms-agribusinesses.html.

John Bovay’s work focuses on using economic methods to analyze public policies related to food and agriculture, with a focus on human health impacts, the distribution of welfare outcomes, and (in some newer work) effects on the environment. The primary topics studied have been (1) economics of food-safety regulation, including incentives for producers to supply safe meat and poultry, and the welfare impacts of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act; (2) economics of food loss and waste; and (3) economics of product-quality attributes and labeling, including issues such as labeling bioengineered food and local food production and demand. 

Along with co-PIs Wei Zhang and Ford Ramsey, Bovay was awarded a major grant from USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture for 2022-25 to study "On-Farm Loss and Waste of Vegetables: Measurement, Drivers, and Welfare Implications".

He is also actively engaged with research on the economics of the hydroponic vegetable industry, including analysis of projected growth in the industry and its impacts on markets.

In Spring 2022, Bovay and Anubhab Gupta introduced a new Ph.D. level course for students interested in the economics of food, health, agriculture, and development. The course is called "Empirical Analysis of Markets and Policy". They anticipate offering the course every other year.

Experience

  • Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, 2019-Present
  • Assistant Professor of Agricultural & Resource Economics, University of Connecticut, 2016-2019
  • Research Agricultural Economist, Food Economics Division, USDA Economic Research Service, Washington, D.C., 2014–2016 
  • Graduate Student Researcher and Teaching Assistant, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics and Agricultural Issues Center, University of California, Davis, 2010–2014
  • Research Associate, Environment & Resources Division, Abt Associates, Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, 2007–2009 

Awards

  • 2021, Southern Agricultural Economics Association: Emerging Scholar Award
  • 2017, Washington and Lee University: Distinguished Young Alumnus Award
  • 2016, Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics: Outstanding Journal Article (with J.M. Alston)
  • 2014–2015, Food Distribution Research Society: Richardson-Applebaum Award for Best Ph.D. Dissertation

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Bovay, J. “Food safety, reputation, and regulation.” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, forthcoming.

Garber, B., J. Alwang, G.W. Norton, and J. Bovay. “Beef and the Bottom Line: The Effect of Value-Added Certification on Feeder Cattle Profitability.” Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, forthcoming. DOI: 10.1017/aae.2021.33.

Ferrier, P., C. Zhen, and J. Bovay. “Price and Welfare Effects of the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule.” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, forthcoming.

Tian, Y., R. Croog, J. Bovay, A. Concepcion, T. Getchis, and M.R. Kelly. “Who Responds to Health, Environmental and Economic Information about Local Food? Evidence from Connecticut Seafood Consumers.” Aquaculture Economics & Management, forthcoming.

McFadden, B., J. Bovay, and C. Mullally. 2021. “What Are the Overall Implications of Rising Organic Demand for Fruit and Vegetable Consumption? Evidence from Theory and Simulations”, Q Open, 1(1): qoab008, DOI: 10.1093/qopen/qoab008.

Bovay, J., and W. Zhang. 2020. “A Century of Profligacy? The Measurement and Evolution of Food Waste.” Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 49(3): 375–409. DOI: 10.1017/age.2019.16.

Ollinger, M., and J. Bovay. 2020. “Producer response to public disclosure of food-safety information.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 102(1):186–201. DOI: 10.1093/ajae/aaz031.

Bovay, J., and D.A. Sumner. 2019. “Animal Welfare, Ideology, and Political Labels: Evidence from California’s Proposition 2 and Massachusetts’ Question 3.” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 44(2):246–266.

Bovay, J., and D.A. Sumner. 2018. “Economic Effects of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act.” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, 40(3):402–420. DOI: 10.1093/aepp/ppx039.

Bovay, J., and J.M. Alston. 2018. “GMO Food Labels in the United States: Economic Implications of the New Law.” Food Policy 78:14–25. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2018.02.013.

Ollinger, M., and J. Bovay. 2018. “Pass or Fail: Economic Incentives to Supply Safe Meat to the National School Lunch Program.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 100(2):414–433. DOI: 10.1093/ajae/aax088.

Bovay, J. 2017. “Demand for collective food-safety standards.” Agricultural Economics 48(6):793– 803. DOI: 10.1111/agec.12375.  

Bovay, J., and J.M. Alston. 2016. “GM Labeling Regulation by Plebiscite: Analysis of Voting on Proposition 37 in California.” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 41(2):161–188.

Peer-reviewed USDA Economic Research Service Publications

Bovay, J., P. Ferrier, and C. Zhen. 2018. “Estimated Costs for Fruit and Vegetable Producers To Comply With the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Rule.” Economic Information Bulletin Number 195, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 

Kuchler, F., C. Greene, M. Bowman, K.K. Marshall, J. Bovay, and L. Lynch. 2017. “Beyond Nutrition and Organic Labels—30 Years of Experience With Intervening in Food Labels.” Economic Research Report Number 239, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 

Ollinger, M., J. Wilkus, M. Hrdlicka, and J. Bovay. 2017. “Public Disclosure of Tests for Salmonella: The Effects on Food Safety Performance in Chicken Slaughter Establishments.” Economic Research Report Number 231, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 

Bovay, J. 2016. “FDA Refusals of Imported Food Products by Country and Category, 2005–2013.” Economic Information Bulletin Number 151, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 

Ollinger, M., J. Bovay, C. Benicio, and J. Guthrie. 2015. “Economic Incentives to Supply Safe Chicken to the National School Lunch Program.” Economic Research Report Number 202, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 

Ollinger, M., J. Guthrie, and J. Bovay. 2014. “The Food Safety Performance of Ground Beef Suppliers to the National School Lunch Program.” Economic Research Report Number 180, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.