Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness


Michael P. Popp

Committee Member

Rogelio Garcia Contreras

Second Committee Member

John D. Anderson


Education, Entrepreneurship, Farm Economics, Policy, Poultry, Solar, Sustainability


Sustainability is an important, commonly discussed societal goal regarding assurance of resources for the world to be able to enjoy a prosperous future. Three primary dimensions of sustainability include environmental, economic, and social sustainability, and objectives for various projects can be aimed at any of the three dimensions to pursue societal sustainability. Solar installations, which can be used to pursue environmental and economic sustainability, convert abundant sunlight to electricity, displacing fossil fuel use that contributes harmful greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The regulatory environment at the state level has a significant impact on the feasibility of solar projects. At present, Arkansas’s regulations are favorable as they allow for net-metering and meter aggregation. A federal solar income tax credit with a 20-yr carry forward period, MACRS depreciation, and bonus depreciation in the first year are currently available to incentivize investment. To aid in investment feasibility analysis for poultry producers that intensively use electricity for ventilation, the Poultry Solar Analysis (PSA) decision support tool was developed to calculate system size, estimate installation cost, and provide capital budgeting metrics, including 23- and 30-year NPV and breakeven cost of electricity over the life of the system. Using monthly electricity bill information from several producers, six producer scenarios were developed to conduct sensitivity analyses with the PSA tool to determine which parameters have the largest influence on NPV. Results encourage the use of a tracker system to optimize solar collection efficiency from the system. At the same time monthly base fees for grid access and demand charges that vary by utility provider and electric inflation rate also have a large impact on NPV. Even with these parameters judged as very influential, age of production facilities and stage of producer investment and attendant lending capacity implications associated with taking on debt for solar investment will vary greatly. As such, the PSA tool is considered useful for estimating financial feasibility of solar investment.

The second study focuses on social sustainability as a means of creating inclusive and resilient societies where its citizens can thrive. Arkansas currently ranks 38th overall in Pre-K through 12th grade state education rankings, and 45th in college readiness, holding Arkansas back from being able to create a group of students who, when pursuing post-secondary education or a career, will effectively aid in developing a thriving, resilient society with less poverty. A business proposal is outlined for an organization to address extracurricular educational program support where students develop hard and soft skills to improve academic performance and expand access to better and more meaningful opportunities and resources through community connectivity. The operating environment for this organization was found to be heavily competitive, and thus, we stress the importance of engaging key stakeholders within various school districts to effectively achieve the organization’s mission.