New faculty profile: Jeff Hadachek studies agricultural water issues and conservation programs

Jeff Hadachek joined the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics as an assistant professor and extension specialist in August 2023.

For more of an in-depth look at one of Hadachek’s research projects, view this recent AAE article about shocks to food supply chains.

What is your hometown? Where did you grow up?
I grew up on a farm near a small town named Cuba, Kansas. 

What is your educational/professional background, including your previous position?
I just completed my Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis. Prior to that, I did my undergraduate degree at Kansas State University. 

How did you get into your field of research?
Growing up on the farm and around the ag industry, I witnessed the factors influencing on-farm decisions firsthand, but also learned to appreciate the grand challenges that the industry must address more broadly. I discovered that training in agricultural economics provided tools to assess pathways that can achieve optimal outcomes for farmers, while also ensuring sustainable use of environmental resources. 

What are the main goals of your current research and outreach programs?
My research quantifies the impact of agricultural production on the environment and the resilience of food supply chains to external shocks. My recent research projects have focused on the causes and consequences of nitrate pollution in groundwater. The goal for my outreach program is to develop resources for Wisconsin farmers to leverage conservation programs and practices that can be advantageous for them, while also reducing harmful externalities, like nitrate leaching.  

What was your first visit to campus like?
I was struck by the vibrancy of campus and the proximity to the lakes. The combination of the Capitol, historic campus buildings, and all located within a few blocks of the water make it a truly unique and unforgettable place. 

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with?
While I am not teaching this academic year, I hope that future students will walk away from my class with a greater curiosity to understand economic issues within the agricultural industry and feel equipped with tools to launch their careers in agriculture, business, or research. 

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.
I am passionate about ensuring that my work is driven by real-world challenges and provides resources that lead to better solutions. As I continue to become more established in Wisconsin, I hope that my research will progress based on the voiced-needs of Wisconsin residents and local policy issues.

The pandemic forced us all to reconsider many things we took for granted. Is there something you’ve learned that has helped you through these challenging times, personally or professionally?
While there are many things I learned, the pandemic gave me a greater appreciation for the qualities of adaptability and flexibility. It affected us in different ways, and more often than not, people showed me kindness and understanding if plans needed to change. I try to reflect that same level of empathy and adaptability to others’ circumstances too. 

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?
Nitrate levels in over half of Wisconsin drinking water systems have increased in the last 20 years. 

What are your hobbies and other interests?
I really enjoy barbecuing and smoking meats, taking our dog Pepper on hikes, and I’m a big fan of Kansas City professional sports teams.