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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), food waste, and analysis of voting on regulations affecting farms and food. 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 timely economic analysis of relevant policies.



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

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

My outreach program is tightly integrated with my research agenda. My 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, my 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 I use economic tools to solve complex problems around agricultural and food policy, production, technology, and sustainability.

Most of my research involves economic analysis of policies and regulations affecting farmers and food consumers, including implications for markets, the environment, and human health.

I have written several papers on the effects of food-safety regulations for producers and consumers of fruit and vegetables, meat, and poultry. These papers consider effects of these regulations on prices, revenues, and food-safety outcomes.

I have also done extensive work on the economics of labeling genetically-engineered (GE, aka bioengineered) food, again with a focus on price effects for both producers and consumers. In a pair of papers, I considered how economic incentives and political ideology affected voters' decisions in several state referendums on regulations that mandated GE labels and stipulated certain restrictions on housing conditions for egg-laying hens and other animals.

Most recently, I have been engaged in an effort to systematically measure on-farm food loss and waste for fruits and vegetables.

Other ongoing projects include analysis of demand for local aquaculture products; and simulating market effects of promoting organic products.

Courses taught:

UConn ARE 3215, Business Management



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


Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, Specialty Crop Economics Section: Honorable Mention, Outstanding Research Paper (with D.A. Sumner), 2018

University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources: David and Nancy Bull Extension Innovation Award (with UConn CAHNR GMO Team), 2018

Washington and Lee University: Distinguished Young Alumnus Award, 2017 

Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics: Outstanding Journal Article (with J.M. Alston), 2016 

USDA Economic Research Service: Cash Awards for Extra Effort (one in 2015, four in 2016)

Food Distribution Research Society: Richardson-Applebaum Award for Best Ph.D. Dissertation, 2014–2015 

University of California, Davis: R.M. Pinkerton Agricultural Marketing Graduate Award, 2014 

Washington and Lee University: Earle Bates Prize in Environmental Studies, 2007 

Peer-reviewed journal articles


Bovay, J., and W. Zhang. “A Century of Profligacy? A Historical Review of the Measurement of Food Waste.” Conditionally accepted, Agricultural and Resource Economics Review.

Ollinger, M., and J. Bovay. “Producer response to public disclosure of food-safety information.” Forthcoming, American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

Bovay, J., and D.A. Sumner. “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.

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.

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.


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


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 [lead article]. 

Peer-reviewed research reports


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.


Bovay, J., and D.A. Sumner. 2013. “How does the Food Safety Modernization Act Affect Farms and Food Marketing Firms?” OreCal Issues Brief No. 007, Oregon State University & University of California, Davis.