Picture of James Nolan

James Nolan Professor

3D18 - Agriculture Building

Research Area(s)

  • Regulatory economics
  • Computational economics
  • Transportation policy
  • Regional and urban economics

Brief Biography

Dr. James Nolan is a Professor in the department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Nolan received his doctorate in economics from the University of California, Irvine. As well as being actively involved in transportation and agricultural policy issues at the federal and provincial level in Canada, Dr. Nolan has also published extensively on topics in transportation and agricultural economics, focusing mostly on modern freight transportation and the structure of these markets. He has been active on many university and international professional committees and has also served as a co-editor for journals in his fields of expertise. Finally, Dr. Nolan has taught several different courses covering both economic theory and applications, and has supervised numerous Master’s and Doctoral theses.


Agricultural and Resource Economics

Research Interests

While transportation and agriculture are broad research fields, I have focused my primary research in the narrower but historically important field of agricultural transportation. To this end, I have used a variety of tools (i.e. econometric, computational) to study the nature of competition and market structure in agricultural transportation markets, particularly in the trucking and rail sectors used for grain movements across Western Canada. I am also interested in further exploring the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to support spatial economic analysis of infrastructure capacity in freight transportation. Given my affiliation with the Social Science Research Laboratory at the U. of Saskatchewan, I am also developing several economic experiments to study on-going agricultural transportation issues, particularly with respect to the evolving structure of modern agricultural supply chains and the changing interface among supply chain participants. And most recently, I am expanding my research towards other key freight modes, particularly the maritime freight sector (the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway) in order to examine how this market has affected agricultural and other bulk shippers in Canada and the U.S.


BA (Economics and Statistics) Concordia University, Montreal, QC. 
MA (Economics) York University, Toronto, ON. 
PhD (Economics) University of California, Irvine, CA.

Selected Recent Publications

S. Gleim and J. Nolan (2015), “Canada’s Grain Handling and Transportation System: A GIS–based Evaluation of Potential Policy Changes”, to appear, Journal of the Transportation Research Forum, Fall.

M. Cakir and J. Nolan (2015), “Revisiting Concentration in Food and Agricultural Supply Chains: The Welfare Implications of Market Power in a Complementary Input Sector”, Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 40, 203-219.

F. Ge, R. Gray and J. Nolan (2015) “Agricultural supply chain optimization and complexity: A comparison of analytic vs. simulated solutions and policies”, International Journal of Production Economics, 159, 208-220.

F. Ge, R. Gray and J. Nolan (2015) “Identifying strategies to mitigate handling risks in the Canadian grain supply chain”, Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 63, 101-128.

T. Freeman, R. Schoney and J. Nolan (2013) “Man vs. Manure: Examining the effects of residential demand on dairy farming in rural America”, Agricultural Systems, 115, 129-136.

Selected Awards

North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Teaching Award of Merit (2015)
Best Agricultural and Rural Transportation Paper award, Transportation Research Forum (2009), Portland, OR.
Honorary professor award, Agricultural Students Association, U. of Saskatchewan (2008-2009).
Canadian Agricultural Economics Society - honorable mention for my student Tyler Freeman (Best Agricultural Economics Master’s thesis in Canada, 2004-2005) for his thesis From the Ground Up - An Agent-Based Model of Regional Structural Change (co-supervised with Richard Schoney) - June, 2006.
Canadian Studies Enrichment Fellowship, Center for Canadian Studies, Mt. Allison University, March, 2003.

Funding Sources

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Alliance for Food and Bioproducts Innovation
Canadian Wheat Board
Farm Credit Canada
Social Science and Humanities Research Council
United States Dept. of Agriculture


AREC (formerly BPBE) 342 Industrial Organization of Agricultural Markets
AREC (formerly BPBE) 420 Operations Management and Logistics for Agriculture
AREC (formerly BPBE) 230 Innovation and Entrepreneurship