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AES Newsletter


THE AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS SOCIETY
Newsletter
April 2024

Letter from the President - The political economy of agriculture is changing
The recent excellent AES conference took place against a backdrop of farmer demonstrations across Europe and, more recently, the UK. The specific issues have varied from country to country and included concerns surrounding new environmental regulations, proposed changes to subsidies, the price of domestic farm produce and competition from imports. The context reinforced the relevance of the discussions taking place at the conference with many presentations addressing these concerns. More generally it raised the importance of understanding the political economy in which we work. The response to the grievances has been a mix of grant concessions and delayed policy decisions, reinforcing the argument that the farm lobby has a political importance which vastly outweighs its significance in terms of standard economic indicators.

Within the UK, I have found the diversity of reactions to the demonstrations from within the farming community interesting. Increasingly there no longer seems to be a single farming voice. Instead, just as the priorities that the sector is asked to address have widened so too has the range of interest groups with debate intensifying. For example, behind the headlines, positions of the more traditional farm lobby groups have been challenged on social media platforms by farmer-led groups concerned with soil health, food sovereignty, and diversity in the farming community, and through debates on the relative importance of food and environment in agricultural policy and practice. The Oxford Real Farming Conference from 2010 was perhaps an early indication of this trend and the growing success of the Groundswell Agriculture Festival focus on regenerative farming systems. Agricultural economists have long recognised different motivations and styles of farming (see Hill, B. and Bradley, D., Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2024. Goals and values of farmers revisited: Gasson fifty years on). It seems more important than ever that we understand and recognise changes occurring in agriculture’s political economy if we are to fully support the transitions required in the sector to address climate and biodiversity crises.

Deb Roberts AES President 2024-25 (deb.roberts@hutton.ac.uk)

Edinburgh welcomed the 2024 AES Annual Conference
The Annual Conference returned to Scotland after 14 years – and was a great success! A record number registered (249), with 128 contributed and discussion papers, 34 poster presentations, and participation from across the world enjoying Scottish hospitality in the excellent University of Edinburgh facilities. The highly acclaimed Presidential Address was delivered by Professor Deb Roberts (James Hutton Institute) on Natural capital and land values in the context of the climate and biodiversity crises: The case for revisiting property rights and responsibilities.

Some broad themes have featured in recent annual conferences, continuing with a wide-ranging keynote address pre-recorded by Jessica Fanzo (Colombia Climate School) on the food system and food security during crises (Jon Brooks moderating the discussion),  a plenary session on how to better inform policy on sustainable productivity growth? led by Spiro Stefanou (ERS Administrator, USA) and Bob Chambers (University of Maryland, USA), with Raushan Bokusheva from Zurich University of Applied Sciences chairing.

Symposiums focused on the Journal of Agricultural Economics: Evolution and Challenges, led by Jon Brooks (Editor in Chief of the JAE), on farmer and farm household research using linked administrative data led by Paul Caskie (AFBI), on addressing the question Is mixed farming sustainable?, led by Professor Kairsty Topp (SRUC); on Survey-based experiments to inform agricultural policy design, led by Professor Klaus Glenk (SRUC); on Carbon offsetting and credits, led by Dr. Rafael De Oliveira Silva (Edinburgh University); and on Unlocking Consumer Choices: Harnessing Behavioural Insights in Food Choice Experiments, led by Professor Seda Erdem (University of Sterling). An impressive Masterclass on analyzing risk in agriculture was led by Professor Yann de Mey from Wageningen (WUR).

The annual conference is also the occasion to confer AES Awards for Excellence, this year to Professor Cesar Revoredo Giha (Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning), Professor Tahir Rehman (Outstanding Contribution to Lifetime Research Achievement) and Dr Trevor Donnellan (Outstanding Contribution to Public Policy, Industry and Society). The Society thanked David Harvey after retiring as Chief Editor of the highly respected JAE – after 18 years in the job – with Honorary Membership of the Society.

Professor Paul Wilson (Nottingham) will be President-Elect for 2024-25 (and President in 2025-26), while the Executive welcomes new members Grant Davies (Defra), Karl Behrendt (Harper Adams), Imre Ferto (Corvinus University Budapest) and Diogo Souza-Monteiro (Newcastle). Thanks to Brendan Bayley (HMT) who steps down as President, and to Frederic Ang, Adewale Adenuga, Wyn Morgan and Atanu Ghoshray who have completed their terms of office. There was no Prize Essay winner this year but the poster prize was awarded to Dr. Bahareh Mosadegh Sedghy, University of Lethbridge for The Impact of Export Price Volatility on Market Behaviour in the International Export Market: A Case Study of Canadian and German Pork Exports in China and the best Ph.D presentation at the conference was awarded to Roberto Villalba, Technical University of Munich for The Smallholder Financial Inclusion index: measuring farmers’ access to and usage of financial services in the Global South.

Thanks to Hervé Dakpo (INRAE France) for putting together a very rich and varied programme, Katy Thorne (AES Administrator) for arranging the logistics with the University, Nick Hanley and his band for the ceilidh and getting (most of) the annual dinner guests (under helpful supervision and guidance) to two hours of Scottish dancing, and Neil Chalmers for organizing and leading an early morning run in Holyrood Park. The AES looks forward to meeting next year in Bordeaux (dates to be determined) and for the Society’s Centenary Conference in Wadham College Oxford in 2026. Please visit the ever-improving AES website for the latest news, views, and photos!

Wilfrid Legg, Honorary Secretary (wilfrid_legg@hotmail.com)

EuroChoices  
Issue 23(1) of EuroChoices is in the final stages of production. It is a very large issue and is scheduled for publication in April 2024. It will contain a range of topics of important economic, social, and political concern within Europe and beyond. The war in Ukraine continues to take centre stage alongside climate change and the ongoing pressures on global agriculture. A special issue, ROADMAP: Rethinking of Anti-Microbial Decision Systems in the Management of Animal Production, is planned for publication later in the year.

John Davis, Editor in Chief   

AES Travel Awards  
In 2023, the Society’s Travel Awards Scheme supported the attendance of AES members at the EAAE Congress in Rennes and the Climate Change Summer School in Zurich. In 2024 conference support of up to £1,000 per application is available for AES members to attend major events in the conference calendar, notably the International Association of Agricultural Economists 32nd conference to be held in New Delhi, India, 2-7 August. Closing date for Travel Awards is 31 May 2024. See the AES website for details and the application form. PhDs and ECRs should note that the AES will be additionally supporting attendance at the EAAE’s PhD Workshop in Budapest, Hungary 5-7 June 2024.

Tim Lloyd EAAE and IAAE Liaison Officer (tlloyd@bournemouth.ac.uk)

Dialogue between the AES and the agrifood industry, 26 June 2024  
There are growing societal concerns about how food is produced and the impact of producing food on the environment, and on people who work in the agri-food sector. Producers worldwide, including in the UK, are increasingly being challenged to improve the sustainability of their businesses. The AES acknowledges the importance of engaging and working closely with stakeholders across the entire agri-food supply chain to address current and emerging challenges, provide evidence to support the development of ‘real solutions to real problems’ and to inform policy and practice at all levels.  Taking forward its successful engagement with policy makers through its one-day Defra-AES conferences, the Society is launching a dialogue with the agri-food industry, through a half-day event at the Farmers’ Club in London.  The event aims to bring together AES members and industry representatives across the food supply chain to discuss how academic agricultural economists can respond to the sector’s needs and to seek potential ways for collaboration that will identify and develop solutions to the challenges facing the agri-food sector.

Carmen Hubbard (carmen.hubbard@newcastle.ac.uk)
Sarah Baker (Sarah.Baker@ahdb.org.uk)

The Newsletter is also circulated with the Journal of Agricultural Economics. The deadline for items for the next issue is 9th July 2024, to wilfrid_legg@hotmail.com 

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