THE AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS SOCIETY
Letter from the PresidentBrexit opens research opportunities
I am writing my first letter as Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is about to be invoked. Soon, the process of formal negotiations will start, and withdrawal of the UK from the EU is more or less inevitable – despite the last-minute skirmishes in the Supreme Court. In common with many academics I regret the Referendum result. I have to declare an interest as I have held a series of EU Framework Programme grants in the past, and will start work in May on my next Horizon 2020 research project. There is every likelihood that continued British membership of the European Research Area will be a priority, for both the UK and the remaining EU27. But for a policy analyst like me, the rationale for continent-wide collaboration has gone. Instead of working to refine the intricacies of a unitary CAP to better fit the diverse contexts in which it is applied, we will probably be dealing with increasingly divergent policy frameworks. Otherwise, why leave the EU?
And yet I won’t miss the cumbersome and frustrating EU decision-making process, which inhibited prospects for urgently needed reforms, even though its game-theoretic properties make a good illustration for my advanced microeconomics module! I won’t miss the CAP either: even in 1973 it was obvious that it was ill-suited to the structure of UK farming, and the various patches applied to it since, along with budget concessions and regional development funding, have done little to change that elemental fact.
The opportunity to contribute to an alternative has put a small spring back in the step of some agricultural economists. The excellent special issue of EuroChoices on Brexit reportedly had a very brisk velocity of circulation in Defra immediately after 23 June last year. Skills and experience that have lain fallow for several decades have suddenly become more valuable and sought-after, even if the direction of change might not be wholly congenial. As a profession we have much to contribute. I lay claim to the Welsh perspective on future agricultural policy because I have lived longer in Aberystwyth than anywhere else. My worry is that, in the rush to dampen volatility through insurance schemes and the allure of innovations based on high technology, the policy objective to correct inequities (between arable and livestock, large and small, hill and lowland) may not get sufficient attention. I will do my best to make sure that is not forgotten!
Peter Midmore, AES President 2017-18 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Defra-AES One-Day Conference, London, 6 February 2017
Around 100 economists, policy officials and industry representatives participated in the highly topical conference After Brexit – Domestic Alternatives to the CAP, which was opened by George Eustice, Minister of State with responsibility for food and farming at Defra. He outlined the challenges and opportunities facing UK agriculture and policy post Brexit, emphasizing the need for better governance in the key areas of improving productivity, supporting farmers and addressing risk and market volatility, while providing environmental protection and better animal welfare. The morning session, chaired by Defra Chief Economist John Curnow, explored the characteristics of good agricultural policy (Jonathan Brooks, OECD), options for transition from the CAP (David Harvey, Newcastle), and the complex area of the link between WTO and domestic support (Jim Rollo, Sussex). The afternoon session, chaired by AES President Tim Lloyd, examined issues of policy design and implementation, including a focus on land management and environment delivery (Ian Hodge, Cambridge), risk management and insurance schemes (Berkeley Hill, Imperial), boosting productivity for competitiveness (Anand Dossa, NFU), and supporting animal health and welfare (Carmen Hubbard, Newcastle).
It was evident, as noted by Tim Lloyd in concluding the conference that the presentations and lively discussion among participants raised many questions as to the best or optimum policy pathways for the UK – including its devolved administrations - to adopt post Brexit, as there is still much uncertainty as to the broad parameters in which agricultural policy will be developed. But the conference certainly highlighted the contributions that economists can make in helping to guide good policy-making.
The presentations from the conference can be accessed at: http://www.aes.ac.uk/news_more.asp?NewsID=42&page=1
Very many thanks to Grant Davies, Sam Jones and colleagues in Defra for hosting the conference in Nobel House and for all of the practical organization of what was a really memorable and informative day!
(As this edition of the Newsletter was written before the 2017 AES Annual Conference in Dublin (24-26 April) a short report will be published in the next issue in July).
As both the President in his Letter in this edition of the Newsletter and the Defra-AES One-Day Conference in London have pointed out, there are many challenges - but also exciting opportunities - for agricultural economists to think about and analyse possible post-CAP agricultural policies in the UK following Brexit. There are, of course, many unknowns and uncertainties regarding the context in which policies will be designed and implemented, not least regarding economic performance, budgetary constraints, trade relations, and geo-political developments – in both the UK, the EU, and across the world.
The AES Executive is considering the role of the AES going forward. For example, EuroChoices was quick off the mark in publishing articles prior to the June 2016 Referendum on the implications for agricultural policies of Brexit, and more articles are planned for future issues. Further conferences, workshops and seminars dedicated to or including post-Brexit agricultural policy analysis and design can be envisaged. There is an opportunity to collaborate with other academic disciplines and interested stakeholders.
Among a significant literature emerging on post-Brexit policy options, agricultural economists will find valuable and highly topical insights on agricultural policies, both in the UK and EU, at http://capreform.eu/ as well as in Alan Matthews’ blogs on Twitter.
AES Centenary Preparations
One of the oldest associations of agricultural economists, the AES will be 100 years old in 2026. A small team, designated by the AES Executive and coordinated by Richard Tranter (Reading), is exploring ways to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the AES in Oxford in 1926. Proposals include a comprehensive history of the AES, assemble a collection of oral histories, and organise a special event in Oxford. Other ideas are always welcome, to email@example.com
Further coverage of the implications of Brexit
for the UK agri-food sector, including views on the future shape of post-Brexit UK trade and domestic agri-food policies, is planned for the summer issue. A special section on the CAP and Rural Employment will be included in the winter issue. Articles are always sought across the wide range of areas dealt with in the journal, so please think of submitting an article, and encourage colleagues too! http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1746-692X
Upcoming EAAE and other events 2017-18
EAAE Triennial Congress 2017. The XV Congress of the European Association of Agricultural Economists will take place in Parma, Italy from 29 August to 1 September 2017. Deadlines for submitting contributed papers, symposia and panel proposals, and poster submissions have now passed, but 5 June is the deadline for pre-conference symposia. To benefit from the lower priced Early-Bird registration participants must register by 30 June (Regular registration has to be done by 4 August). For further details and registration go to EAAE2017 on the EAAE website or visit http://www.eaae2017.it Remember that the EAAE Congress is one of the major international conferences for which funding is available to assist attendance by AES members (see AES Travel Awards at www.aes.ac.uk
8-10 November 2017, 7th EAAE PhD Workshop, Challenges for young agro-food and natural resource economists facing the future, Barcelona, Spain
26-27 April 2018 The evaluation of new CAP instruments: Lessons learned and the road ahead, Budapest, Hungary
18-22 September 2017
, Summer School on Policy Evaluation in Agriculture
, Bucharest, Romania. USAMV Bucharest and its partners within the ENHANCE consortium invite postgraduate students, researchers from agro-economics disciplines, and young professionals from governmental institutions to participate. More information at: http://course.enhance-project.ro
or Carmen Hubbard (firstname.lastname@example.org
The Newsletter is also circulated with the Journal of Agricultural Economics.
The deadline for receipt of material for the next issue is 6 July 2017, please contact the AES Secretary please: email@example.com
2017 Spring Issue