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AES Newsletter

December 2020

Letter from two Presidents: 
Trade and agricultural policy challenges after Brexit and Covid19

Welcome again to another joint newsletter from Caroline Saunders and Janet Dwyer.

Caroline writes from New Zealand. I hope everyone is safe and looking forward to Christmas, which I guess will be very different from usual after a year of lockdowns.  It is hard to imagine the disruption to yourselves and the agricultural industry.  In New Zealand it is again agriculture that has kept the economy going better than expected with reasonably strong exports.  We are watching with interest the Brexit negotiations and the UK’s free trade negotiations with New Zealand. Interestingly, we have just finished a report for the High Commission here: the trade links are small at around 6% of New Zealand exports with New Zealand not meeting its quotas, especially for sheepmeat.  So do we envisage an increase in exports when, and if, the free trade agreement is signed?  In fact, our modelling shows that it’s mainly apples and wine that will benefit!

Janet responds: As I write this the negotiations between the UK and the EU continue, to try to conclude a ‘light’ trade deal focused mainly on free movement of goods, in the next few days.  If this succeeds then we may see only minor additional disruption to agriculture and food trade patterns over the coming months in the UK. Right now, Covid19 has split farming business fortunes in two, with those sectors focused mainly on processing, retail and direct sales holding up relatively strongly while those whose sales are strongly interconnected with hospitality, leisure and tourism (e.g. dairy, value-added, some types of diversification) have seen big impacts as the country and its various regions have moved in and out of major restrictions. And some market signals are at odds with policy messages, such as buoyant lamb prices.  Nevertheless, the recent announcements from Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, on future farm policy echo similar directions of travel for all 4 UK devolved administrations, giving welcome clarity on the ‘big picture’ for future support, with much to be commended. The devil, as ever, will be in the detail, but at least we now have a roadmap to work to and some commitment to help with the difficult process of adaptation, via advice and business planning support.

Caroline Saunders AES President 2020-2021 (saunmderc@lincoln.ac.nz)
Janet Dwyer AES President 2021-22 (jdwyer@glos.ac.uk)

Congratulations to Caroline on being awarded Lincoln University’s most prestigious title of Distinguished Professor in recognition of her international influence, reputation and achievement in her field of trade and environmental economics…. and congratulations also to former AES President and AES Executive member, Tim Lloyd (Bournemouth), who has been appointed to the REF2021 sub-panel on Economics and Econometrics. Tim was nominated by the AES and joins another AES nominee, Euan Phimister (Aberdeen), who is a member of the REF2021 sub-panel on Agriculture.

AES Annual Conference, 29-30 March 2021

The Annual Conference of the Society will be a hybrid event, held virtually online and in-person at The University of Warwick, UK. The programme promises to be rich and varied. Professor Janet Dwyer (Countryside and Community Research Institute, United Kingdom) will deliver the Presidential Address on policy analysis for rural resilience. Professor Ada Wossink (University of Manchester, United Kingdom) will give the Keynote Address, focusing on interdisciplinary challenges for economists. Professor Helena Hansson (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) will lead a symposium on animal welfare in the food value chain. Professor John Davis (Chief Editor of EuroChoices) will lead a symposium on the 20th anniversary of the journal. Professor Robert Chambers (University of Maryland, United States of America) and Dr Spiro Stefanou (Administrator of the Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture) will chair a symposium on modelling non-conventional inputs in total factor productivity analysis. Professor Gert Jan Hofstede (Wageningen University, Netherlands) will deliver a Master class on agent-based modelling. Other workshops and symposia will include sessions on strategies for agro ecological transitions in the European Union and the United Kingdom, smallholder commercialisation in sub-Saharan Africa, and writing skills for agricultural economists. There will also be a targeted online networking possibility for postdocs, lecturers and assistant professors in Europe. Finally, we will explore the possibilities of the online environment to hold informal, social events.
Note that the deadline for paper/poster/PhD proposal submissions is 20 December. The AES website will be updated regularly, including registration details, so please check at http://www.aes.ac.uk/page.asp?ID=3
Frederic Ang, Programme Secretary (frederic.ang@wur.nl)

Defra-AES one-day conference, 7 December 2020
Strengthening resilience in the food supply chain
The virtual conference brought together 65 online participants (against the background of the Covid19 pandemic), welcomed by David Kennedy, the Director General of Defra. He argued that the ongoing National Food Strategy (https://www.nationalfoodstrategy.org) would strengthen resilience, with its focus on a joined-up governance approach to sustainable farming and dietary change, providing benefits to the environment and agricultural production. Bob Doherty in his keynote speech stressed the need for a food systems approach and a conversation on the alternative pathways to strengthen resilience, the role of private initiatives and public policy, and the importance of good data, analysis, and communication of the trade-offs involved. Peter Feindt (public policies), Luiza Toma (food waste and safety), Krijn Poppe (data and technology), Emily Gray (OECD country case studies), and Jonathan Rushton (animal and plant disease management), contributed a rich and varied set of presentations on resilience. Very many thanks to Michael Bourne and Defra colleagues for hosting this event, to Katy Thorne for managing the Zoom platform, and John Curnow and Janet Dwyer for excellent chairing and to all the participants for engaging in this important and topical issue. Although we miss the social contact of in person conferences, as John pointed out, it does mean we avoid queuing for coffee and lunch, while posting written questions in the chat box allowed more questions to be answered than is usually the case! The presentations are available on the AES website at https://www.aes.ac.uk/news_more.asp?newsID=1078.

EuroChoices: celebrating 20 years
During 2021 we will mark the 20th anniversary of the launch of EuroChoices. Special covers for the three anniversary issues are being designed and each of the three issues will include invited contributions from leading authors. These will feature reflections on the evolution of issues covered in the journal since its launch; analysis of twenty years of the CAP; the growing role and influence of social media on agri-food systems; the implications for the European Union of the integration of Eastern European countries; the growing significance of food issues including food standards and the implications of the linkages between diet and health; and changing agri-food trade relations and the architecture of multilateral institutions. We are also planning a special EuroChoices 20th anniversary session during the AES Annual Conference in March and more details on this event will be provided in the Conference programme.

The Covid19 pandemic has significantly delayed the publishing schedule of EuroChoices during 2020, particularly special issue 19(2) on “The Resilience of European Agriculture”. This issue was finally approved in early December and should be available online in the near future. The final issue of 2020, a special on the impacts of Covid19 on agri-food systems was completed in early December and is now in production; a number of these articles are on Early View and the full issue should be published online in early January 2021. The Covid19 issue aims to showcase the intensive work of economists, over a period of just a few months, in reflecting on and analysing the impacts on agri-food systems in Europe, North America, and the developing world. Our profession should be proud of these achievements!

John Davis, Chief Editor (eurochoices@aes.ac.uk)
Special issue of Agriculture: call for papers
A special issue of Agriculture entitled “Structural Changes on Family Farms in Developed, Developing and Transition Economies” is being guest edited by Professor Ayal Kimhi (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), who has launched a call for papers. This special issue aims to collect case study analyses of the causes and consequences of structural changes on family farms in developed, developing and transition economies. International comparisons are also welcome. Papers focusing on specific institutional arrangements and policy reforms are particularly encouraged.  The deadline for submissions is 20 May 2021. More details and submission instructions can be found https://www.mdpi.com/si/66453

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

The Newsletter is also circulated with the Journal of Agricultural Economics.  The deadline for items for the next issue is 2 April 2021, to wilfrid_legg@hotmail.com

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