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Jason Lusk - 2020 Lu Ann Aday Award

Jayson L. Lusk

Jayson L. Lusk – 2020 Lu Ann Aday Award

Lu Ann Aday Distinguished Lecture

Economic research provides insights into when and why food policies fail and what can be done to improve the well-being of food consumers and farmers alike.


Jayson Lusk is a food and agricultural economist who studies what we eat and why we eat it. He is currently a Distinguished Professor and head of the Agricultural Economics Department at Purdue University. He earned a BS in food technology from Texas Tech University in 1997 and a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University in 2000. He held previous faculty positions at Mississippi State University and Oklahoma State University, and worked as a visiting scholar with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research.

Lusk has been interviewed and published editorials in outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Washington Post, and has appeared on numerous national network and cable television shows. Lusk has published more than 250 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including several of the most-cited papers in agricultural economics. He has authored six books, including “The Food Police” and “Unnaturally Delicious.” Lusk has received numerous awards, including the Borlaug Communication Award from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. He currently serves on the executive committee of the USDA National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board, and has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Lusk is a fellow and past president of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

Food Policy: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Food policy has emerged as an important area of inquiry as politicians, regulators and activists attempt to confront the conflicting challenges of obesity and hunger, the environmental and animal welfare impacts of food production, the globalization and concentration of agricultural production and food manufacturing, and increased demands for new food quality attributes. In his lecture, Lusk will tie together several streams of his research to explore when and which food policies fail to achieve their desired outcome, and what might be done to improve the way we eat.

Research Accomplishments

As a preeminent food and agricultural economist, Lusk is widely sought out by governments, private industry and media. For his research insights on consumer demand for food, food policy and impacts of consumer acceptance of food and agricultural technologies is His research primarily centers on the following topics:

  • Food Policy: Although food and agricultural policies are often motivated by noble intentions, economic analysis provides a framework for estimating consequences and understanding tradeoffs. Lusk has analyzed the consequences of numerous policies such as impacts of food labels, bans on controversial agricultural technologies, food assistance programs, fat and soda taxes, crop insurance subsidies and animal welfare laws.

  • Emerging Food Issues: Food preferences and technologies are constantly evolving, and as such, much of Lusk's research has focused on providing economic analysis and insight into consumer preferences for emerging food issues. His work has been on the cutting edge of emerging issues such as animal welfare, biotechnology, cloning, nanotechnology, growth promotants, local foods, lab-grown meat and food insects.

  • Consumer Behavior: Predicting consumers' responses to food marketing and policy initiatives requires an understanding of why people do what they do, which means studying preferences for risk, time, fairness, social status and more. A key question driving much of Lusk's research is, why do consumers say they will do one thing in a survey but do something entirely different when shopping in the grocery store? He has pioneered theories about the gap between intentions and behavior, and has developed methods to lessen hypothetical bias.

  • Livestock and Meat Technology and Marketing: Animal agriculture represents the highest share of farm cash receipts, and as such, Lusk has focused much attention on livestock, poultry and meat marketing and the impacts of technologies on these sectors.

  • Research Methods: Lusk has created and improved experimental, survey and statistical methods to better understand how consumers will react to food marketing and policy initiatives. He helped create new consumer research methods such as inferred valuation, incentive compatible conjoint, calibrated auction-conjoint, basked based choice experiments and calibrated choice experiments, and his work has led to further developments in best-worst scaling, choice experiments and experimental auctions.

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