Professor Foster's research interests are in the fields of production economics and marketing with special emphasis on the structure and performance of agricultural production and marketing systems. His work has included a dynamic analysis of investment and supply in the U.S. beef cattle industry, measuring technical change in agriculture, the measurement of demand systems, demand for heterogeneous products, and the use of contracts in agricultural production. Foster’s research and outreach activities have included testimony to Senate committees and state legislative study committees on the competitiveness of livestock markets and the use of contract production. Likewise, his work has influenced the decisions of private stakeholders in the livestock and meat industry. Most notable, perhaps, is his co-edited book How to Feed the World that provides guidance on how individuals and groups can combat the forces that threaten our ability to feed ourselves.
Professor Foster teaches agricultural price analysis and applied time series analysis, has experience working in Latin America, China, Europe, and Africa, and serves as an extension specialist in the area of agricultural markets and production economics. His current research activity explores improvement and development of agricultural value chains in Latin America - specifically Colombia - and the performance of their agricultural production systems. Foster is also a part time farmer operating a third generation beekeeping and honey business. Foster served as Associate Head and Graduate Program Director from 2004 to 2008 and as Department Head from 2008 to 2017. Among his awards, Ken received recognition from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association for Distinguished Graduate Teaching with 10 or More Years’ Experience Award and the Team Outstanding Outreach/Extension Program Award, Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor from the Purdue College of Agriculture, and has received the Purdue Agriculture Team Award on three different occasions.