Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness


Brandon McFadden

Committee Member

Lawton Lanier Nalley

Second Committee Member

Aaron Shew

Third Committee Member

Alvaro Durand-Morat

Fourth Committee Member

Rodolfo Nayga, Jr.


Choice Experiment, Consumer Economics, Consumer Research, Environmental Economics


Understanding consumer perceptions of carbon emissions in agriculture is a critical step to help increase the sustainability of food consumption. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 14.5 percent of all global anthropogenic GHG emissions are estimated to be represented by livestock (FAO), and cattle, raised for beef and milk, are the largest animal species responsible for emissions, comprising over 60 percent of the livestock sector’s emissions. This motivates this study’s analysis of beef and dairy milk products and alternatives. To better understand how consumers may substitute meat and milk products when provided with information about carbon emissions, two online surveys, one meat and one milk, were distributed to 1,240 U.S. meat consumers and 1,217 milk consumers. The objective of this study is to answer the questions: 1) does a food label that provides estimates of carbon emissions cause substitution effects across products within the categories of meat and milk, and 2) does an information intervention about carbon emissions associated with agricultural production nudge consumers to make carbon-reducing food choices. The study also aims to discover which GHG-reducing mechanisms consumers perceive as most effective and least effective in agriculture. The results of this study are important for producers, consumers, policymakers, and other agriculturalists paving the way towards a more sustainable future so that agriculture can evolve to feed a growing global population. Findings reveal that a carbon label does cause substitution effects across provided meat and milk products and that the information intervention has less effect. Furthermore, respondents favored “carrot” GHG-reducing mechanisms - corporate incentive and government subsidy - more than “stick” mechanisms of corporate regulation and government tax. Ultimately, this study contributes to a deepened understanding of consumer preferences for beef and dairy and substitutes in the meat and milk categories (including plant-based options).