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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Negligible Welfare Effects of the International Food Aid Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill

There is ample evidence about how to make international food assistance more responsive to recipient needs, faster, cheaper, and healthier. The 2014 Farm Bill moves U.S. international food aid and food assistance policies in the right direction, but ultimately it falls far short of what could be done.
Erin C. Lentz and Christopher B. Barrett

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

President's Message: September 2014

As we head into fall, it is a good time to reflect on the summer’s AAEA activities.  The Minneapolis meeting was well-attended and included an excellent slate of invited and selected presentations.  An outstanding keynote was delivered by Brian Wansink from Cornell University.  The excellent support of the EDI staff once again made for an excellent meeting.  The AAEA Board of Directors held its biannual meeting in Minneapolis and work on a number of critical issues is proceeding.

Under Past-President Julie Caswell’s excellent leadership, the Board undertook a series of “task-force” studies to address current issues of importance to the membership.  One of the most important issues facing our membership involves “communicating out” activities.  As scientists, we tend to focus our communication efforts largely within our narrow professional circles.  Once a paper has been posted or accepted for publication, we often move to the next issue.  Significant lags in publication time are an unavoidable part of the publication and written outreach process and it is often months before our work is circulated in published form and, once published, our work may not reach many important potential users of our research and outreach.

The AAEA Board is investigating avenues to address this deficiency.  Communicating-out efforts typically occur through two primary avenues—communication with a lay-audience through popular media outlets and communication with policymakers and industry representatives.  A small number of our professional colleagues seem to have mastered this activity but for most of us, our efforts often taper off once a paper is circulated in our own narrow circles.  The Association is in the fortunate position of having resources that can be invested in addressing this shortcoming.

Keith Coble is heading the effort to formulate a communications strategy that will better extend our research and outreach efforts.  The Board intends to finalize plans at the January meeting.  Your input into this planning process is very much valued.  Please communicate any ideas, requests, or suggestions to Keith.

C-FARE continues to play an important role in these communication efforts.  Caron Gala has done an excellent job in maintaining representation of the AAEA and its core issues in Washington.  We continue to invest in ways to further develop our network among policymakers, their staff, and with industry representatives.  I will be teaming with Caron over the coming months to explore new avenues for communicating in the Washington community and with other important constituency groups.

The Board recently received a number of outstanding invited paper proposals for the winter ASSA meetings.  Space constraints necessarily limited the number of slots allocated to the AAEA and we have six excellent sessions on the program.  The role of invited papers and the proceedings issues that publish the papers is another issue that the Board is contemplating.  Our excellent partners at Oxford University Press (OUP) continue to work with the Association to elevate the status of our publications within the scientific community.

A relatively recent development in the research community involves journal “impact factors.”  The impact factor considers the number of citations per published article over the most recent two- and five-year periods.  The metric is flawed in many ways but has become a standard in measuring the quality of research output in many circles.  Our publications tend to have relatively long citation half-lives and this can tend to bias downward the impact factor as a measure of the impact of research.  We definitely do not want the impact factor to have too much influence in shaping our publications but we cannot entirely ignore it.

Invited papers and proceedings play an important and, in some cases, surprising role in our impact factors.  These papers are often quite different from typical submitted papers.  The topics may be more general and often include surveys and reviews of key issues.  A relatively large number of papers are published and these papers tend to fall into two categories.  Many papers are not cited at all, a fact that tends to lower impact factors.  However, a result that I found surprising is the fact that some of the most cited papers that contribute the most to our impact factors can be found in the proceedings.

These facts were in mind as the Board considered proposals.  There are a few fundamental points that I want to emphasize to the membership.  The Board recently decided to allow authors the choice of whether to have their paper considered for publication.  The editors have the final say in what gets published and we have adopted an expedited review process for these submissions.

In my communications with this year’s session organizers, I have stressed my personal expectation that participation in a session necessarily carries with it an obligation to provide a written paper of publishable quality.  I am concerned that the option to not furnish such a paper may carry with it a moral hazard effect if authors decide to withhold some of the better invited papers for other outlets.  We all have the experience of a particular research topic turning out even better than expected.  I want to encourage all organizers and authors to provide their papers and to invest the effort necessary to elevate the stature of proceedings publications.

Looking ahead, President-Elect Jill McCluskey and future Board members will have the important task of managing these sessions.  I encourage everyone to start planning your invited paper submissions now.  Please consider adding a paper to each session that includes a survey or overview of the issues relevant to the session.  Such papers tend to trigger citations.  Also keep these sessions in mind as your research develops over the coming months.  Papers that may not be suitable for publication through normal submission channels may make excellent candidates for invited papers.  Please consider acceptance of your proposal to involve an implicit obligation to furnish a strong paper for review.  We definitely do not want impact factors and similar such metrics to direct our research but there are simple things that we can do that will improve the stature of our research output and provide higher quality output to the users of this research.

Lastly, thank you to all of the authors and participants in the AAEA sessions taking place at the ASSA meeting in Boston. I encourage all AAEA members attending ASSA to go to those sessions and show your support for your colleagues. Join us also for the TW Schultz Memorial Lecture being presented by Emily Oster, University of Chicago. Details about AAEA sessions and the TW Schultz event can be found on the AAEA website. Hope to see you there.

Barry K. Goodwin
AAEA President

Friday, September 12, 2014

Member Profile: John Loomis

John Loomis
Colorado State University

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

AAEA Trust Call for Proposals

The AAEA Trust Committee and Executive Board are seeking proposals for programs or projects that:
  • Support development of graduate students and early career professionals
  • Deepen participation in AAEA or reach out to new groups
  • Enhance the AAEA Annual Meeting
Funds donated to the unrestricted and student and early career professional development categories of the AAEA Trust will be used to fund proposals approved by the AAEA Trust Committee and Executive Board. Proposals from AAEA Committees and Sections are encouraged. Please note that the Trust does not fund individual research projects, nor does it retroactively fund activities that have already taken place. Please contact Trust Committee Chair Julie Caswell at if you would like to discuss your proposal ideas before submission.
Proposal submissions should include:
  1. A cover sheet with name of applicant; applicant’s mailing address, e-mail, and phone number; title of the project; abstract of the project; timing, duration, and location of the project; and amount of funding requested.
  2. A project description, not to exceed five double-spaced pages, including the purpose, scope, implementation procedures, the individuals responsible for management of the project, date/timing of the project, and location of the project.
  3. An itemized budget, indicating costs to be borne by the Trust and funding provided by other sources, if any. The AAEA Business Office may be a resource for budget information.
Proposals should be submitted as a single PDF file by Monday, October 6, 2014, to ensure consideration for funding for the next year. Proposals will be reviewed by the AAEA Trust Committee, which will make recommendations to the Executive Board for action at the January 2015 Board Meeting.
Proposals should be submitted to Brian Mondragón Jones, AAEA Executive Director, via e-mail at If you have any questions, please contact Brian or Julie.

Special Purpose Funds: Call for Applications

Friday, September 5, 2014

Choices Theme: Available Now

The 2014 Farm Bill introduced a plethora of programs—including potentially expensive shallow loss programs—that transfer income to farmers and landowners. It modified conservation and food aid programs, extended heavily subsidized agricultural insurance programs, and modestly changed agricultural research programs. This theme evaluates the economic welfare effects of these new farm bill initiatives.
                              - Barry K. Goodwin and Vincent H. Smith

Welfare Effects of PLC, ARC, and SCO

Deadweight losses of new U.S. farm programs will be minimal because payments are decoupled from planted acreage. This feature is consistent with Becker’s theory that policy results from competition between rent-seekers. The actual economic damage from the newly designed farm subsidies is the opportunity cost of not funding programs that increase social welfare.
                              - Bruce Babcock

Read the complete article

 Choices Article Released


Friday, August 29, 2014

Crop Insurance and the 2014 Farm Bill Symposium
Symposium Overview
The current political climate in Washington has resulted in a paradigm shift toward alternative risk management strategies, primarily crop insurance offerings to producers, to help mitigate risks of agriculture. In 2013, AAEA supported the first Crop Insurance Symposium in a time when there was a great deal of uncertainty regarding the nature and timing of the next Farm Bill. This year’s offering, Crop Insurance Symposium II, is structured to examine and assess the consequences and implications of the 2014 Farm Bill from the perspective of agency implementation, industry adoption and producer management of federal crop insurance under the new policy paradigm where crop insurance is a primary risk management tool.

Registration Rate:
  • $200 USD (Until September 24)
The deadline to register is Wednesday, September 24. Cancellations made before September 24 will receive a refund minus a $50 processing fee. After September 24 refunds will not be granted.

Register online HERE.

Friday, August 22, 2014

ERS Webinar: Farm Sector and Household Income Forecast

USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) will release a new forecast for calendar year 2014 income, assets, debt, farm business performance and the outlook for farm operator households on August 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM. This is the second forecast for 2014, and it will incorporate new information on production expenses, land values, and the outlook for commodities.

ERS Economist, Mitch Morehart, will present Farm Sector and Household Income Forecast and take questions from the audience in this exclusive USDA webinar on Tuesday, August 26 at 1 PM. The presentation will last approximately 30 minutes with questions and answers immediately after.

Date: Tue, Aug 26, 2014
Time: 1:00 PM EDT
Duration: 1 hour
Host(s): Economic Research Service



Streaming audio available through your computer.
Or you can call in to listen to the audio via your phone U.S. & Canada Toll-Free TBA

Test your computer for compatibility prior to the meeting.

For technical support: U.S. and Canada: 800.843.9166 International: 303.209.1600
Email: Web: Conferencing Support

Economic Research Service
United States Department of Agriculture