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Welcome! I am an assistant professor of cooperative extension at UC Davis in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. My main fields of interest include agricultural economics and international trade as well as development, remote sensing, and climate change. A connecting theme in my research is that I aim to study the determinants of why regions choose to produce the (primarily agricultural) commodities they do, and the aggregate consequences of those decisions. In my work, I quantify the forces that determine where agriculture is produced as well as where it might be produced in the future, the interactions between licit and illicit crop production, and the distribution of scarce natural resources. I obtained my Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in Agricultural and Resource Economics and completed my B.S. at the University of Minnesota in Economics and Mathematics.
In my free time, I enjoy going up and down mountains, either on foot or on skis.


Commodity Trade Matters
with Thibault Fally
JPMCC International Commodities Symposium Best Paper Award
CEPR Discussion Paper No. 13132 | NBER Working Paper No. 24965
[PDF] [Appendix] [Data] [Summary]

Farm to Firm: Clustering and Returns to Scale in Agricultural Supply Chains
Working paper -- substantial update coming soon.

Predicting Maize Yields at Large Scale using Remote Sensing
with Joel Ferguson and Kangogo Sogomo
Work in progress.
[World Bank Blog post]

The Impact of Colonization on Crop Choice
with Abdoulaye Cisse and Thibault Fally
Work in progress.

The Promise of Crop Substitution Programs
Work in progress.
[EEB Blog post]

Global Animal Production, Consumption, and Trade in a Warming World
with Milan Quentel
Work in progress.

Spatial Concentration and Resilence of American Agriculture
with Meilin Ma
Work in progress.

Responses of US Agrointermediaries to Climate Shocks: Evidence from firm-to-firm trade data
Work in progress.


Pyomo for Economists Workshop

Tools for Planet Imagery

Extension, Outreach, and Policy

In my outreach and extension role, my focus is on the economics of food supply chains, with a focus on California. I aim to study policies to better understand the role of intermediaries in agricultural distribution, identify inefficiencies in local and international trade networks, promote greater competition and opportunities for small to medium scale agricultural producers, and to assess how supply chains can best respond to shocks caused by a changing climate. I am developing extension and educational programs to learn from and inform a variety of clientele, including growers, supply chain intermediaries, policy makers, and other academics about the economics of food supply chains.

Outreach publications

Developments in the Avocado Sector and their Implications for California Producers and Consumers / Avances en el sector aguacatero y sus repercusiones para los productores y consumidores californianos
ARE Update Vol. 26, No. 2., Nov/Dec. 2022
[PDF] [PDF en español] [Abstract] [Avocado shipments figure (Updated Oct. 2023)]

Does Trade in Primary Commodities Matter?
with Thibault Fally
ARE Update Vol. 23, No. 1., Sep/Oct. 2019
[PDF] [Abstract]

Online appendices
Farm to Firm: Clustering and Returns to Scale in Agricultural Supply Chains

  • Development of the largest Avocado production cluster / El caso de aguacates en Michoacán
    [PDF] [PDF en español]
  • Primer on the FAO GAEZ and EcoCrop indices [PDF]

[Back to research]
Replication data
Farm to Firm: Clustering and Returns to Scale in Agricultural Supply Chains

  • SIAP municipality level agricultural data for Mexico, 1980-2021 (at state level before 2003) [Download]
  • Sistema Nacional de Información de Mercados -- Anuarios Estadísticos de Mercados Nacionales -- Frutas Y Hortalizas (Market price data for agriculture, 1998-2021) [Download]
  • Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (CONAGUA) Historical Weather Station data, 1877-2021 [Download]

[Back to research]

James E. Sayre
Assistant Professor of
Cooperative Extension

Department of Agricultural
and Resource Economics

UC Davis
3125 SS&H
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

Schedule a meeting with me

I co-organize the Yolo Trail Runners club [link], a weekly trail run at the UC Davis Stebbins Cold Canyon Preserve, open to all.


Skiing in Tilden Park, Berkeley (2023)
News coverage:
[Berkeleyside] [East Bay Times] [LA Times] [SF Gate] [SF Standard]

Freestyle Skiing (2011)