Alan W. Hodges

Extension Scientist

Alan Hodges has worked in the Food & Resource Economics Department since 1985, and since 1990 has been in an extension/research faculty position. He serves as Extension Coordinator in the department, and as director of the UF program in Economic Impact Analysis, which conducts sponsored projects for industry organizations and government agencies encompassing a wide range of activities and industries. His areas of expertise include regional economic impact analysis, market survey research, agribusiness management, and biomass energy resource development.


Teaching Activities:

Co-taught course AEB 4325-Contemporary Issues in Agribusiness Management (3 credits) during the Fall 2013 semester (33 students) and Spring 2014 semesters (41 students).

Co-taught course FOR 6934-Nontimber Forest Products, 2002-06.

Chaired Masters degree committees for 3 students.

Served on graduate committees for 11 Masters degree students and 8 PhD degree students.

Research Program Descriptions:

Economic Impact Analysis.Economic impact analysis is an important tool for assessment of the structure, role and contribution of industries, activities and events, and for evaluation of the benefits of economic development projects and policies. Much of my work in this area relies upon the use of input-output models constructed with the Implan software and associated databases, which represent the structure of regional economies, and provides economic multipliers to estimate the secondary impacts of industry purchases and employee household consumer spending. Through the UF/FRED program in economic impact analysis, we have conducted research projects to evaluate a wide range of Florida's agricultural and natural resource-based activities, with in-depth sponsored projects conducted for major industries in Florida such as environmental horticulture, forestry, fisheries, citrus, bioenergy, healthcare, tourism, and golf. In addition, we have evaluated a variety of development projects, institutions and events in individual counties or regions of Florida and other states.

Horticulture Economics and Business Management.The ornamental horticulture (nursery and landscape) industry is one of the largest agribusiness sectors in Florida, and among the fastest growing segments of agriculture in the United States. Ornamental horticulture production in Florida ranks second nationally, with over 20,000 horticulture-related businesses, employing over 150,000 people, and generating total revenues in excess of $15 billion annually. My research in this area has sought to document the market structure and business practices in this industry in order to provide better market information for industry managers and allied professionals. This often involves primary survey research since secondary statistical data on this industry is not readily available. For example, a series of survey research projects evaluated state, regional and national market channels for nursery products. My long term research effort has established financial benchmarks (financial ratios) and production efficiency indicators for Florida wholesale plant nurseries, as a guide for business management, planning and investment. Recently, I developed an internet-based system for financial benchmarks to automate data collection and analysis. I maintain a professional association with the Green Industry Research Consortium, a multi-state group of economists and horticulturists focused on research and education in support of improved management in the environmental horticulture industry.

Biomass Resource Development. This area of research seeks to evaluate the use of biomass resources for natural products including biofuels, composts, and chemical extractives derived from forests, energy crops and waste materials such as animal manures and municipal solid wastes. Utilization of these resources has benefits in providing valuable products, disposal of wastes, and replacement of fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources. I conducted studies to determine barriers to more widespread use of composts as a soil amendment and fertilizer replacement. I have also done research to evaluate the potential for development of woody biomass for electric power generation and use of crops for production of ethanol biofuel. A project this year together with faculty in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation sought to assess economic impacts of incentives for woody biomass utilization for electric power generation in Florida.

Environmental Economics.The state of Florida has a unique and biologically diverse subtropical environment that attracts millions of visitors each year, supporting tourism, as well as robust agriculture and natural resource industries. Florida's environmental amenities also drive rapid population growth and development. However, the state's natural environment is sensitive to degradation that may threaten these economic activities. Research efforts in this area seek to examine the tradeoffs between economic use of natural resources and protection of the environment. My research has evaluated public values and preferences for open space preservation and invasive species management through the application of multi-attribute utility theory and conjoint analysis. Other research has evaluated the costs and benefits of water quality improvement in agricultural operations in the Lake Okeechobee and Everglades area. Recently, research has focused on the economic potential for carbon sequestration to mitigate global climate change, and development of markets for carbon credits in agriculture and forestry, as part of an interdisciplinary faculty initiative.

Summary of Grants and Contracts Received, by Project Role, Program Area and Year (since 1989):
  • Summary of Grants and Contracts Received, by Project Role, Program Area and Year (since 1989):


    Number Projects

    Total Funding Amount

    Funding Amount to FRED / Hodges

    Grand Total








    Principal Investigator




    Co-Principal Investigator








    Program Area








    Economic Impact















































































































    USDA Hatch project: Economic impact analysis of agriculture and natural resources in Florida, 2015-20.

    USDA Multi-state project: Sustainable Practices, Economic Contributions, Consumer Behavior, and Labor Management in the U.S. Environmental Horticulture Industry, 2015-20.

Extension Program Descriptions:

My activities in extension or public education generally follow the areas described in my research program narrative, with emphasis on practical application of research information by stakeholders and citizens of Florida and the United States. The three areas of extension activities are 1) horticulture enterprise management, 2) economic impact analysis/economic development and awareness of agriculture and natural resources, and 3) biomass resource development.Educational activities include conducting training workshops for industry managers, making presentations to industry associations, writing outreach publications and trade magazine articles, personally consulting to industry clientele, and maintaining websites. Research and extension reports are typically developed as electronic documents for distribution through program websites and the UF/IFAS Extension publication system (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu, as internet publication is now the preferred medium for public information dissemination, complementing traditional program delivery through printed media and workshops. I work closely with UF/IFAS county agents and other specialists to coordinate extension programs, and also maintain linkages with the major industry associations in Florida. My extension programs are evaluated through surveys for effectiveness of communications and impacts on socially preferred knowledge and behaviors of target audiences.

Horticulture Enterprise Management.The environmental horticulture industry is a large and rapidly growing sector in the economy of Florida and the United States. Managers in the industry generally do not have formal training in business management or marketing, leading to sub-optimal business performance. There is also a lack of public information available on market characteristics and typical costs and returns, which is necessary to inform rational investment in the industry. The objective in this extension program is to provide industry managers, allied professional and investors with training on basic principles of management and marketing, and research-based information on industry trends and characteristics. In support of this extension program area, I have been a member of the Green Industry Research Consortium (S-1051 multi-state project of USDA/CSREES), a group of researchers and extension professionals from land grant universities tasked with conducting research and educational programs in support of the environmental horticulture industry. A thrust of this program is to educate wholesale nursery owners and managers on the use of financial benchmarks or indicators for evaluation of business performance in relation to industry norms in terms of profitability, financial solvency, liquidity, productivity and efficiency. Industry performance benchmarks, also known as financial ratios, are compiled through personal interviews and surveys of representative firms. A website was redesigned in 2010 to enable horticulture industry managers to conduct financial benchmark analysis for their companies in comparison to industry averages ( A closely related activity has been to assist growers with cost analysis of individual nursery products in order to establish appropriate pricing and selection of the product mix. I have prepared numerous IFAS extension publications on this subject, which are made available on a website ( An interactive version of the financial benchmark analysis program was developed to allow users to enter information about their business to conduct their own analysis and to make the program available to horticulture businesses throughout the I have made many public presentations at UF/IFAS workshops and to industry trade associations. According to testimonials by participants, this program has enabled industry firms to more accurately evaluate product costs, to successfully obtain capital financing for business expansion, obtain public assistance and insurance settlements, to track progress over time, to establish realistic expectations for business performance, and to set meaningful goals for improvement.

Economic Impact Analysis/Economic Development/Awareness of Agriculture and Natural Resources.Agriculture, food manufacturing and natural resources are major sectors of the Florida economy, with total output (revenue) impacts approaching $100 billion annually. Many people, especially urban dwellers and recent immigrants, are not aware of its historic and ongoing importance, which sometimes leads to conflicts over resource use and enactment of public policies that may be harmful to the industry. The objective of this extension program is to provide information on the role and economic contribution of these basic industries and related activities and events, in order to achieve greater awareness and understanding by government regulators, policy-makers, and the public at large. Economic impact studies conducted at the request of some of the major industries in Florida, such as citrus, forestry, environmental horticulture, golf and tourism, have demonstrated the economic contributions of these industries in terms of employment (jobs), value added (income) and output (sales revenues). Feedback by industry sponsors indicates that this information has been valuable for gaining public recognition and in obtaining fair consideration on issues such as labor, land use, water quality, pesticide regulation, and international trade. An economic impact assessment of agriculture and natural resource industries in Florida is updated annually in general support of UF/IFAS programs. I have prepared numerous extension publications in this program area, which are made publicly available on a program website (economicimpact.ifas.ufl.edu Many smaller studies and consultations have also been provided in support of local economic development efforts. I conducted training workshops on economic impact analysis for UF/IFAS county extension faculty. I have also been involved with the UF/IFAS Agriculture Awareness Initiative (Goal 1, Focus Area 2), working with specialists in Agricultural Education and Communication and county extension faculty to identify educational needs and develop region-specific information products to enhance public knowledge about agriculture.

Biomass Resource Development.Before the advent of abundant and inexpensive petroleum resources, fuels and chemicals were derived from biomass resources produced by living plants and animals. As petroleum and other fossil fuels have become more expensive due to scarcity, and their adverse environmental impacts realized, there has been tremendous interest in finding alternative renewable and sustainable sources of energy and chemicals. The objective of this extension program area is to educate business operators and investors about the economic potential for biomass products such as composts/soil amendments, pine oleoresin for organic chemical feedstocks, and utilization of energy crops, wood, and waste materials for biofuels and electric power generation. I have prepared numerous UF/IFAS extension publications in this area, covering subjects such as the economics of composting, evaluation of bioenergy from dedicated woody tree crops, and the potential for ethanol production from Florida crops.

Alan W. Hodges, Ph.D., Extension Scientist