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AES Newsletter

April 2021

Letter from the President
Time for change and reflection

Spring has arrived and we have just held our first ever AES Annual Conference wholly online, which was a great success, very ably overseen by Katy, Frederic, Neil and Stephen and with a great selection of interesting topics, posters, papers and symposia. The mood has been fairly upbeat in the UK largely as a result of declining rates of Covid infections and deaths and significant progress on vaccinations, meaning re-opening the economy now looks more possible than it has since last summer. Nevertheless, it is also a time of change and reflection: Defra and the devolved administrations are moving from consultations on new policy into more detailed policy design, which is where thorny issues about the approach, the payments and the obligations need to be worked out.

Meanwhile, Brexit has clearly affected the food sector, with many smaller processors and manufacturers facing significant challenges to exports and EU-UK trade in food much diminished, at least for the time being. Farmgate prices have been less affected: with many beef and sheep producers reducing their breeding stock over the past 3 years, a smaller throughput has kept these prices well up on last year and reduced imports from the EU may also be helping domestic producers in these and other sectors. Big shifts in the balance of domestic consumption away from hospitality and towards online retail have meant big changes in supply chain logistics, but it is not yet clear how far these will continue into the future. Ahead, we can anticipate new environment-related regulation and perhaps carbon markets and new food strategies helping to spur further reorganisation of land use and management.

But we also have to consider the fallout from Covid, including ongoing economic fragilities, significant youth unemployment and likely public sector restraint, which will affect the context for agri-food and rural futures. It is an important time for being ambitious about what might prove possible, at the same time being keenly aware of the risks of getting it wrong. Let us hope that the combined insights, knowledge and expertise of research; farmers, foresters, fishers and landowners; food chain actors; and rural communities will be effectively drawn into the governance process as we scope out our future frameworks, together. And more broadly, we should hope for a successful and inclusive COP26 conference in the Autumn and a renewed enthusiasm for global co-operation on climate change and biodiversity protection. Springtime greetings to all!

Janet Dwyer AES President 2021-22 (jdwyer@glos.ac.uk)

AES Annual Conference, 29-30 March 2021

The two-day online Annual Conference brought together 205 AES members. The rich and varied programme included Professor Janet Dwyer’s (Countryside and Community Research Institute, UK) Presidential Address on policy analysis for rural resilience, the Keynote Address by Professor Ada Wossink (University of Manchester) on interdisciplinary challenges for economists, and a symposium led by Professor Helena Hansson (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) on animal welfare in the food value chain. Professor John Davis (Chief Editor of EuroChoices) led a symposium on the 20th anniversary of the journal and Dr Dimitris Diakosavvas (OECD) and Professor Spiro Stefanou (Administrator of the Economic Research Service, USDA) chaired a symposium on modelling non-conventional inputs in total factor productivity analysis, and Defra colleagues briefed on post-Brexit transitional agricultural policy developments in England. Professor Gert Jan Hofstede (Wageningen University, the Netherlands) gave a Master class on agent-based modelling. Other workshops and symposia included sessions on strategies for agro-ecological transitions in the EU and the UK, smallholder commercialisation in sub-Saharan Africa, and writing skills for agricultural economists. An online targeted networking event was organised for postdocs, lecturers and assistant professors in Europe. And thanks to Steve Wiggins for putting together a (very) challenging pub quiz.

The AES thanks Yiorgos Gadanakis (Reading), who has completed his term on the Executive, as well as Grant Davies and Mike Bourne (Defra), and welcomes Atanu Ghoshray (Newcastle), Emma Bentley (Defra), and Emma Dillon (Teagasc), who are joining the Executive. The Society honoured Richard Tranter (Reading) with its Award for Excellence and Krijn Poppe (WUR, Netherlands) as an Honorary Member of the Society. The Prize Essay (generously supported by the David Blandford and Katharine Hassapoyannes Endowment Trust) was won by Lan Le, Poster prizes were awarded to Corinna Hempel and Fanny Le Gloux and the best Ph.D presentations to Yabin Da (Texas A&M University), Maria Rodrigues (University of Glasgow), Annika Tensi (Wageningen University) and Nicholas Tyack (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland). The President-elect is Jon Brooks (OECD) and we look forward to welcoming you to the 95th annual conference in Leuven, Belgium from 4-6 April 2022. Access to conference presentations is available for a limited period to members on the AES website.
Frederic Ang, Programme Secretary (frederic.ang@wur.nl)

Congratulations to Professor Wyn Morgan (Sheffield and AES Executive), who has been recognised as a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, which is a prestigious honour that recognises a sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning.

The Prize Essay (generously supported by the David Blandford and Katharine Hassapoyannes Endowment Trust) was won by Lan Le (UWA), Poster prizes were awarded to Corinna Hempel (Technical University of Munich) and Fanny Le Gloux (INRAE).

The European Association of Agricultural Economists and the International Association of Agricultural Economists will both be hosting virtual conferences in the summer of 2021. The EAAE will be hosting their conference on 20-23 July 2021 (http://www.eaae2021.org/) and the IAAE conference is provisionally set for 17-31 August 2021 (https://iaae-agecon.org/).  Details on registration are available from the websites.

Check upcoming EAAE news and list of upcoming seminars at www.eaae.org

Tim Lloyd, AES-EAAE/IAAE Liaison Officer (tlloyd@bournemouth.ac.uk)

EuroChoices at 20!

This year we are celebrating twenty Years of EuroChoices in communicating accessible analysis of topical agri-food and rural issues. The launch of a pilot issue of the journal in 2001 was a visionary cooperative initiative between the Agricultural Economics Society (AES) and the European Association of Agricultural Economics (EAAE); it would aim to complement the existing highly respected journals of the two associations and would have at least a Europe-wide platform.

EuroChoices has evolved during its first twenty years but continues to be true to its original outreach mission i.e., the communication of carefully reasoned and accessible analysis of agri-food and rural affairs to a wide range of readers. All key stakeholders would have the opportunity to benefit from its unique content and attractive structure. The vision was to build the journal around the three Rs - Rigour, Relevance and Readability – a formula that aimed for the gold standard in communicating quite complex issues in accessible formats. In conjunction with our publishing partners, Wiley, the journal would ultimately become a key resource for readers not just within Europe but globally.

In this 20th Anniversary Year special covers for the three 2021 issues are being designed and each will contain invited contributions from leading authors. These will include analysis of the evolution of the topics covered in the journal since its launch; reflections on twenty years of evolution of the CAP; the growing role and influence of social media on agri-food systems; and the implications for the European Union of the integration of Eastern European states.

This year, of course, also sees the UK host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 1 – 12 November. The summit will bring parties together with the aim of accelerating actions towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The outcomes from this meeting will almost certainly have implications for agriculture and land-use. EuroChoices will publish contributions from leading authors on these important issues. We will also publish in the near future a free-to-view virtual issue containing articles with a climate theme published in recent years. We look forward to an anniversary year relatively free of the constraints imposed on publishing by the Covid-19 pandemic; and to more buoyant economies driven in part by deferred consumption.

John Davis, Chief Editor (eurochoices@aes.ac.uk)

New publications of interest

OECD (2021), Making Better Policies for Food Systems (https://doi.org/10.1787/ed93d80a-en)

World Scientific (2021), David Blandford and Stefan Tangermann (Eds) Current Issues in Global Agricultural and Trade Policy: Essays in Honour of Timothy E Josling (https://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/Q0287)

In Memoriam

Ian G Simpson, 1926 – 2020 (Leeds). Obituary is on the AES website

Richard Pearce, 1943-2021 (Reading). Appreciation by Kevin Parris is on the website

Yves Surry 1950-2021 (Uppsala). Obituary is on the website

We also remember Richard (Dick) Dancey 1934-2011 (ADAS), AES President 1993-4

The Newsletter is also published in a shorter version online (ww.aes.ac.uk).  The deadline for items for the next issue is 2 July 2021, to wilfrid_legg@hotmail.com

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