Kent Kovacs

Research Agricultural Economist


Kent Kovacs is a research agricultural economist in the Conservation and Environment Branch of the Resource and Rural Economics Division. 


Kent's research focuses on natural resource use (often water, land, and forests) and the environmental effects of agricultural production. His work has been supported by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, USDA Forest Service, and rice and soybean commodity boards. Coverage of his research has appeared in media outlets such as The Economist, The New York Times, and Scientific American. Prior to joining ERS in 2022, Kent was an associate professor at the University of Arkansas in the Department Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness. 


Kent holds a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California-Davis, specializing in land and environmental economics. He has a BA in Economics (and minors in Mathematics and Environmental Science) from Vassar College. 

Professional Affiliations

Kent is a member of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA), Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE), and Southern Agricultural Economics Association (SAEA).

Selected Publications

Kovacs, K., R. Haight, K. Moore, M. Popp. 2021. "Afforestation for carbon sequestration in the Lower Mississippi River Basin of Arkansas, USA: Does modeling of land use a fine spatial resolution reveal lower carbon cost?," Forest Policy and Economics 130: 102526.

Tran, D., K. Kovacs. 2021. "Climate uncertainty and optimal groundwater augmentation," Water Resources Research 57: e2021WR030114.

West, G., H. Snell, K. Kovacs, R. Nayga. 2021. "Flexible estimation of groundwater service values and time preferences," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists 8(4): 825-861.

Kovacs, K., A. Durand-Morat. 2017. "The influence of on- and off-farm surface water investment on groundwater extraction from an agricultural landscape," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 49(3): 323-346.

Kovacs, K., G. West. 2016. "The influence of groundwater depletion from irrigated agriculture on the tradeoffs between ecosystem services and economic returns," PLoS One, 11(12): e0168681.

Kovacs, K., M. Mancini, G. West. 2015. "Landscape irrigation management for maintaining an aquifer and economic returns," Journal of Environmental Management 160: 271-282.

Kovacs, K., M. Popp, K. Brye, G. West. 2015. "On-farm reservoir adoption in the presence of spatially explicit groundwater use and recharge," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 40(1): 23-49.