THE AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS SOCIETY
Letter from the President
How can the Society help inform public debate?
I hope everyone had a safe trip home after a really enjoyable annual AES conference. As I said in my concluding remarks in Warwick, our discipline provides a framework for thinking about a lot of important issues. So, it matters that public policy, and public discourse, are properly informed by agricultural economics. David Blandford, speaking at the annual Society dinner, asked what can be done to foster this. It’s a good question.
Some in our profession are prolific and insightful bloggers. But should our discipline’s contribution to public debates be limited to the aggregate of a relatively small number of such individual efforts? Put another way, could the AES find ways to help foster an informed public debate on agri-food related issues? Of course, on any given issue, AES members will have a range of perspectives. So, this is not about trying to pretend that there could, or should be, a ‘house AES view’.
One approach could be to use the AES website to provide links to short papers, explainers, or blogs, dealing with a range of issues that are topical, or are likely to become so. One could imagine a degree of curation and light touch peer review would be required, to ensure that such contributions are of a suitable standard, whilst respecting that a variety of perspectives exist. Alternatively, or additionally, the Society could provide contact details, either on the website, or on request, for those AES members who are prepared to be approached by the media to comment in respect of specific issues.
So, I wonder whether this is the sort of thing the Society should actively consider. If you have thoughts on the principle of what I describe, or views on the pros and cons of specific ideas, then please do share your thoughts (to the Chair of the Executive firstname.lastname@example.org or the Hon Secretary email@example.com).
Brendan Bayley AES President 2023-24 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2023 AES Annual Conference returned to Warwick University
Following the highly successful 2022 annual conference in Leuven we were back this year at Warwick University, our regular default location. A good turnout of 170 participants benefited from an excellent programme put together by Programme Secretary Frederic Ang, with the valuable logistical assistance of Katy Thorne, the AES Administrator, and Hervé Dakpo, who takes over from Frederic for the 2024 annual conference in Edinburgh on 18-20 March. AES annual conferences do not take a specific theme, but bring together contributed and discussion papers, symposia, masterclasses and workshops, posters, and keynotes, covering a wide range of topics in agricultural economics and related disciplines.
A highly topical and stimulating Keynote Address by Professor Erik Mathijs (KULeuven) explored the reconfiguration of the agri-food supply chain to support healthy and sustainable diets, while Brendan Bayley (HM Treasury UK), the incoming AES President made a strong case for why agricultural economics matters, drawing on personal experience and research to illustrate his argument, concluding with a plea for better communication to inform policy and public debate (see his Letter above). And, in the same vein, we could all no doubt improve our writing skills, so the regular (and entertaining) workshop on this topic, led by Steve Wiggins (ODI), is always much appreciated!
One of the highlights is the Conference Dinner, where awards and prizes are presented. The Best Poster Prizes were awarded to Cecilia Larsson (Lund University, with Mark Brady) for their poster Modeling land use change from subsidies promoting energy crop production and Emmanuel Peter (University of Nottingham, with Steve Ramsden and Christine Siettou) for the poster Modeling risks and constraints among smallholder farmers in North-East Nigeria. The Prize Essay award, supported by the David Blandford Prize Essay Fund, went to Curtis Rollins, Ph.D Candidate (University of Western Australia), for his essay entitled Investigating cost non-attendance as a driver of inflated welfare estimates in mixed-logit models, to be published in the JAE. The best Ph.D presentation at the conference was awarded to Ella Kirchner (University of Göttingen) for her paper on Assessing digital opportunities for the distribution and product design of agricultural microinsurance.
Four colleagues were honoured with AES Awards for Excellence: Diogo Souza Monteiro, Imre Ferto, Carmen Hubbard and Frederic Ang. This year, the Society was very pleased to offer Honorary Membership to David Blandford and Katharina Hassapoyannes, in grateful recognition of their long-standing commitment to the Society and their generous funding of the Prize Essay. David shared some reflections on his own career path and, reiterating the President’s theme of why agricultural economics matters, illustrated the influence of his work on agriculture and trade policy in both the US and internationally. But his final message, which has been articulated over many years (including in John Davis’ Presidential Address in 2018-19), was to stress that we need to effectively communicate scientifically based research findings to the public and policy makers to counter the often misleading and false assertions in the media. This is firmly in the “more needs to be done” category and where EuroChoices plays such an important role, as well as blogs such as those of Alan Matthews and many others in Europe and the US.
The Executive welcomed a new member, Sarah Baker (AHDB), replacing Alan Butler who has completed his term of office, and Deb Roberts (James Hutton Institute) who is AES President Elect. The Executive is planning to extend the material for members on the website; including addressing the suggestions raised by the President. Following the AGM, the Executive would also welcome proposals to expand its outreach to fund new initiatives but will need to bear in mind that the current healthy financial situation of the Society could change with developments in OA publishing (and thus royalties) in coming years.
Finally, a huge “thank you” to Frederic Ang (with Hervé Dakpo shadowing) and Katy Thorne for all the organisational work involved in making this year’s conference so welcoming and efficient. We look forward to seeing you in Scotland next year!
The photos of the Conference are available at https://www.aes-conference.vagnervidalphotography.com/
Password: AES2023 (case sensitive) and the Conference programme and presentations are available on the AES web site.
Wilfrid Legg, AES Honorary Secretary (email@example.com)
EuroChoices provides a wide range of options for authors, including full articles, viewpoints, graphic presentations, and letters to the editor. Contributions from authors in all stages of their careers are warmly welcomed. I am particularly encouraged by the growing number of submissions from early career authors. Following the resignation of co-author David Blandford from the editorial team and, after a short competition, we have appointed Professor David Orden, Virginia Tech as our principal editor in North America. In the first issue of 2023, EuroChoices 22(1), currently in production, we devote significant coverage to the impacts of the war in Ukraine in two special leading articles. The summer issue will be devoted to the theme Agriculture in the EU BioEconomy: Economics and Policies, coordinated by Justus Wesseler and Dušan Drabik, Wageningen University and Research. Readers‘ comments and suggestions for future articles and themes are always warmly welcomed.
John Davis, Editor in Chief
EAAE Congress, Rennes, 29 August to 1 September 2023 on the theme of Agri-food systems in a changing world: Connecting science and society. Further details of the Congress can be accessed at https://eaae2023.colloque.inrae.fr/
Visit https://eaae.org/ for EAAE news and seminars.
Check on the AES website for financial support to attend the EAAE Triennial Congress. The deadline for applications is 31 May,
Tim Lloyd EAAE and IAAE Liaison Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
International Meat Secretariat is looking for a new Secretary General
The IMS, based in Paris, is seeking applications to replace Hsin Huang (previously OECD) as Secretary General. The IMS brings together national livestock and meat processing organisations and draws on scientific research to promote environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable livestock production to contribute to food security and healthy nutrition both domestically and in international fora. Anyone interested in this challenging position should contact Hsin Huang at email@example.com
The Newsletter is also circulated with the JAE. The deadline for items for the next issue is 28th June 2023, to firstname.lastname@example.org