THE AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS SOCIETY
Letter from two Presidents (pictured above)
Due to the coronavirus pandemic the AES annual conference scheduled to be held in Leuven, Belgium in April was cancelled. The next annual conference will be in Warwick University in 2021. The meeting of the Executive and the AGM were conducted by teleconference and it was decided that the 2019-2020 President, Caroline Saunders, would continue in a caretaker role until the 2021 annual conference when Janet Dwyer would take over. The President Elect, Jonathan Brooks would then assume the AES Presidency in 2022. In these exceptional circumstances, we welcome a joint Presidential Letter from Caroline and Janet, written from literally other ends of the earth!
Caroline says: Wherever we are, there is really only one subject at the moment: Covid-19 and the havoc it is causing to people’s health and wellbeing. It is with sadness that we watch the news from New Zealand and see what you are all going through. It seems at the moment that New Zealand may have contained the virus, but things change daily. The impact on the economy is also huge. New Zealand is probably better placed than most, relying heavily on agricultural exports (80 per cent of goods trade), which, with a few exceptions, have generally held up. The main impact is on international student registrations, and tourism (roughly a third of exports earnings), which has ceased and is unlikely to rebound any time soon. I am also a member of the Monetary Policy Committee for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand: it is positive to see how the UK is trying to currently support business and communities through fiscal and monetary policy.
Janet adds: After almost 3 weeks of complete system-shift here in the UK, research and policy communities are adapting with varied success to the strange environment in which we now operate. Work and home life are physically intermingled and everything seems to take longer, as we struggle with online fatigue. Life has become a weird mix of household isolation in lovely spring weather, dramatically reduced consumption (especially in leisure and hospitality), business lockdown and fear of collapse, and a huge outpouring of compassion for those dealing with a vast array of emergency work and human suffering. Some commentators suggest this experience will bring us all to value food and farming, regional products, local businesses, direct sales and trusted provenance much more, while others suggest the exact opposite, as major actors in the food system organise supply chains and focus on volume and basic commodities. What is clear is that the ramifications are hugely complex, and go further than we yet appreciate. Sharing knowledge and finding time for collective and individual reflection therefore seem more important than ever, as we engage with current and future challenges. Take care, everybody!
Caroline Saunders AES President 2020-2021 (Caroline.Saunders@lincoln.ac.nz)
Janet Dwyer AES President 2021-22 (email@example.com)
Coping with the coronavirus: how the AES is adapting
Across the world the rapid and relentless spread of the coronavirus has led to unprecedented responses of governments, businesses and peoples’ behaviour. Lockdowns and social distancing are nearly universal. A sharp downturn in economic activity and rise in unemployment has forced governments to bring in emergency support measures. The longer-term implications for lives and livelihoods are at present very speculative. But everywhere there are reassessments of the long-standing ways in which activities are undertaken and how those activities might be done differently.
The AES is no exception. As with other learned societies, its lifeblood is in publications, conferences and seminars. Early on in the pandemic the Executive took the decision to cancel the annual conference in Leuven, which minimised the Society’s financial exposure. This was a difficult and highly regrettable decision (but inevitable as became apparent in the circumstances) given the excellent programme that Frederic had put together, the superb location, and the chance to meet and network, in particular with our Belgian colleagues.
After exploring many options the Executive decided to postpone the 2020 annual conference until next year, which will hopefully feature a mixture of papers submitted for the 2020 conference and new papers and presentations. The 2021 programme will be discussed at the mid-term Executive in October.
But the business of the Society needs to continue and a meeting of the Executive and the Annual General Meeting, key events at the annual conference, used Zoom professional software, organised by Katy. All of the business was successfully conducted, respecting social distancing but virtually interacting! It is likely that the Society will continue to experiment with teleconferencing, where appropriate, in the future. The Society would welcome feedback - and any suggestions - on the experience of the virtual AGM.
The hard copies of the Journal of Agricultural Economics and EuroChoices are printed in Asia and then distributed worldwide. The next issues of the journals cannot be printed or distributed given the restrictions in force, but will be available online through the Wiley Online Library. It is not sure at this stage if the hard copies affected will eventually be printed and distributed. One of the consequences could well be an increased push to publish solely online, a trend that has been evident even before the current crisis. We will have to follow developments closely and adapt as necessary.
Wilfrid Legg, AES Newsletter Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Highlights from the Executive Meeting and AGM
Professor David Blandford and Dr Katherine Hassapoyannes have generously offered to support the AES Prize Essay Award (and possibly other projects in the future) with the prize increased from £1000 to £3000, for which the AES is extremely grateful. The Award will be administered by a Trust fund, which is expected to be established in the near future. The details of the Award can be found on the AES website.
The impact factor of the Journal of Agricultural Economics has steadily increased over time – up from 1.0 in 2013 to 2.5 in 2018. This is a tribute to the continuing fine work of the Chief Editor, David Harvey, the editorial team, reviewers - and of course the authors who decide to submit to the JAE.
The Society thanked the retiring members of the Executive, Trevor Donnellan (TEAGASC, Ireland) and Dominic Moran (Edinburgh). Steven Ramsden (Nottingham) also retired but now takes on the role of Chair of the Executive Committee. The Society welcomed three new members to join the Executive, Christina Siettou (Nottingham), Adewale Adenuga (AFBINI), Wyn Morgan (Sheffield), and co-opted Jonathan Brooks (OECD).
After 6 years chairing the Executive, Paul Caskie (AFBINI) stepped down. Paul was inter alia instrumental in negotiating a new 7-year contract between the AES and its publisher Wiley, continues to be a very pro-active Secretary of the EuroChoices Advisory Board, and has always explored and often led initiatives to raise the profile of the Society and foster the participation of members. The Society will express its enormous appreciation at the next annual conference in 2021.
At the Defra-AES one-day conference in January, the “21st century” Chairs of the Executive were present. In the photo heading the Newsletter, taken by David Stead (UC Dublin). From left to right: Steven Ramsden (who took over at the AGM in 2020), Paul Caskie, James Jones, Paul Wilson, Wilfrid Legg, and Brian Revell.
The annual Defra-AES One-Day Conference is currently anticipated to take place in December in London. The topic is not yet decided but several options are under consideration, including antimicrobial resistance; the implications of the coronavirus on trade, food security, food supply chains, the environment and rural areas; and risk assessment. Details will be posted on the AES website in due course. The Society is always interested in suggestions of topical policy issues for the one-day conferences.
The AES Twitter account is increasingly attracting more followers (at around 785 at present). Thanks to Neil Chalmers and team for their work on managing the account.
Wilfrid Legg, AES Honorary Secretary (email@example.com)
EAAE Seminars and Congress
A message from the European Association of Agricultural Economists:
“The EAAE Board, in consultation with the Local Organising Committee and the Programme Committee, regret to announce that due to the exceptional circumstances facing all of us, it will no longer be possible to hold the XVI EAAE Congress in August this year in Prague. Holding the congress virtually has been considered, but given the length and complexity of the programme and that a key part of the Congress is the interaction with colleagues from across Europe, it was felt that the best option was to postpone the congress until July 20-23 next year. Whilst recognising there is still much uncertainty as to what the situation will be over the next 12 months, the Board feels this gives us the best chance of successfully holding a Congress in this cycle. Those who have submitted papers and proposed sessions for the Congress will shortly be informed by the Programme Committee as to how these will proceed in light of the postponement. In the meantime, the Board will continue to monitor the situation and will keep our members updated with any developments.
At this time the Board would like to especially recognise the Local Organising Committee for all their efforts in such difficult circumstances and also the on-going work of the Programme Committee. Stay safe and hope that we can meet next year in Prague”.
Check updates on EAAE Seminars (www.eaae.org)
Tim Lloyd, IAAE/EAAE Liaison Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The global readership of EuroChoices has been increasing rapidly in recent years with around 35,000 full text downloads in 2019. The Covid pandemic has thrown global economies into turmoil and may jeopardise the production of print copies of the first issue of EuroChoices in 2020. At the same time Covid has brought into sharp focus the strategic importance of the agri-food and rural sectors in sustaining the health and general wellbeing of societies across the globe. In more stable and peaceful times it is easy to lose sight of the significance of this key role. The Editor invites articles on this and other topical issues. You can contribute a Full Article, Counterpoint; Point de Vue; Parlons Graphiques; or a Letter to the Editor. It is important to follow the author guidelines on the Contribute tab at: www.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/euch. Alternatively you can discuss options with the Chief Editor.
John Davis, Chief Editor (email@example.com)
Professor Gerald (Gerry) Furness 1929-2019
It is with deep regret that the AES has learned of the death of Professor Gerry Furness, who was Professor of Agricultural and Food Economics in QUB, Chief Economist in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland, and Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Science in QUB from 1984 until his retirement in 1987. An obituary will be published in the JAE in due course.
A shorter version of the Newsletter is circulated with the JAE. The deadline for items for the next issue is 17 July 2020, to firstname.lastname@example.org