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John A. Miranowski

John Miranowski possess a rare combination of schlarship and leadership and has had an outstanding impact on the profession and the agricultural economy. He was one of the pioneers in the literature on agriculture and natural resource economics through his nearly 100 publications, including papers published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE), Review of Economics and Statistics Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (JEEM), and American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings as well as influential books and reports, including five for the National Research Council (NRC). His dissertation and work that followed captured a new perspective on agricultural productivity, externalities, and the impact of commodity programs on natural resource use. He estimated demands for pesticides and fertilizers; illustrated how different commodity programs distorted the location, mix, scale, and price of crops; and estimated the impact on chemical use and associated environmental damages. With Dixon and Dixon in “Insecticide Requirement in an Efficient Agricultural Sector” (Review of Economics and Statistics), he explored how the eliminating government programs would alter insecticide use and damage. He also explored how crop insurance and IPM would alter pesticide use. John’s work on resistance management with Carlson (NRC) is cited today in designing resistance-management programs.

John and his students provided important contributions to the dynamics of soil-erosion problems. In “Impacts of Productivity Loss on Crop Production and Management in a Dynamic Economics Models” (AJAE), he illustrated how higher-than-expected crop prices led to agronomic practices and cropping decisions that are more soil conserving.  With Orazem, “A Dynamic Model of Acreage Allocation with General and Crop Specific Soil Capital” (AJAE), he developed a model of acreage allocation in which farmers consider the impacts of current crop production on future soil productivity and how future crop prices affect current acreage allocation decisions. In “Intertemporal Soil Resource Use: Is it Socially Excessive?” (with Shortle in JEEM), he demonstrates the complexity of policy implications in market failure and the need to carefully evaluate efficiency gains from erosion control policies. This was a pioneering works on the economics of nonpoint source pollution. His work with Just, “Understanding Farmland Price Changes” (AJAE), has become a classic, providing a new framework to link changes in land prices to macroeconomic forces, expectations, and risk attitudes. John and his students have contributed to the literature on technological change and productivity, are extending that to climate change impacts on productivity and land use, and have also made important contributions to the literature on energy efficiency and biofuel economics.

John has had a major impact on the agricultural economics profession through intellectual and administrative leadership. He joined the Economic Research Service (ERS) as Director of the Resources and Technology Division (RTD). in 1984.  During his tenure with ERS, he  made RTD a center of agricultural resource policy analysis and a leader in conservation and environmental information reporting. Under his leadership, economic policy analyses impacted key natural resource legislation and program implementation, such as the CRP and water quality, at the USDA.

In 1995, John returned to Iowa State as Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics. He orchestrated three new thrusts: hiring and developing new faculty to add to the strong base, significant efforts to reinvigorate undergraduate and graduate programs, and targeted annual outreach programs to the rural leaders and citizens of Iowa that demonstrated  economic tradeoffs in addressing specific rural challenges. He also helped establish and facilitate a consortium of agricultural groups to address economic concerns and develop a strategic plan for the future of Iowa agriculture.

His service to the profession includes AAEA, AERE, and C-FARE Executive Boards and distinguished committee assignments.