Friday, May 25, 2018

Member Blog: Chinonso Etumnu

Reflecting on my Anthony Grano Fellowship Experience


From May 14-18, 2018, I visited Washington DC to complete the Anthony Grano Fellowship program of AAEA. This piece is my reflection on what I liked about the program, some of the advice I got from the professionals I met, and the need to perpetuate the support the program receives because of my positive experience and that of previous fellows.

One of the good things about this program is that the organizers strive to schedule meetings with professionals whose expertise align with the fellow’s areas of interest. For example, one of my meetings was held with economists on the staff of the Food Economics Division of ERS, whose work on food safety, food prices and markets, food security and food assistance, and consumer behavior, food consumption and nutrition, align closely with my research interests. I also had the opportunity to meet with the director of food and agriculture at Biotechnology Innovation Organization, and our discussions have since progressed to potential research opportunities with the organization. Another good thing about my experience is that although the program focuses on meeting senior professionals, I had the opportunity to meet some young professionals too. Learning from professionals with such a blend of experiences allowed me to deeply understand the arrays of responsibilities held by agricultural and applied economists at government agencies and private organizations.

The professionals I met were very cordial and willing to share their career experiences with me. One question they responded to was what lessons they have learned and what advice they would like to share. Most of their advice centered on building and maintaining good relationships as our professional success partly hinges on our ability to collaborate, network and recommend one another for opportunities. Another set of advice centered on the need to keep an open mind and saying yes to opportunities at the beginning of one’s career. Since our career paths might be uncertain in graduate school, engaging in rewarding opportunities might be an avenue to discover oneself. The importance of developing both technical skills such as data analysis and modelling, as well as communication skills such as writing and public speaking, were emphasized. A final set of advice focuses on discovering one’s strengths, what one really enjoys and recognizing the opportunities that call on those skills. All these advices resonate with me, and I will keep them in mind as I progress in my academic journey and even after I finish graduate school.

Through this program, I have learned agricultural policy through the lenses of non-academic economists, from the roles of the chief economist’s office at USDA, to how agricultural economists make real world impact through rules and regulatory processes, to how economic forecasts influence prices of agricultural commodities domestically and globally, and to the roles of a large governmental research agency in policy research. I am now better informed about the career paths of agricultural economists who work outside academia and whose career trajectory is tilted towards policy-oriented research and service. All these unique learning and networking experiences would help mold my professional career.

I consider this fellowship, in many ways, as a short version of a summer internship, where the intern can rotate through several offices of a big government agency and organization. Because of teaching and research responsibilities in the summer, graduate students may not be able to cease opportunities to intern outside their academic departments. Thus, this program provided me with a brief internship experience which may influence my career choices in the future. Even for those students who may be interested, eligible and have the time for summer internships at places like the USDA, participating in this program will provide them an opportunity to network with both senior and junior staff that may have the capacity to influence such internship decisions. It is therefore of immense importance, for the sake of graduate students, that all members of the AAEA see the benefits of the Anthony Grano Fellowship, and the need to continue the program.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST)

Summary of Activities January–May 2018

Regulatory Barriers Rollout
On March 22, CAST released Issue Paper 59, Regulatory Barriers to the Development of Innovative Agricultural Biotechnology by Small Businesses and Universities, in Washington, D.C. Dr. Alan McHughen, a biotechnology specialist and geneticist at the University of California, Riverside presented key findings to an audience at The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. On March 23, Dr. McHughen conducted briefings for Senate staffers in the morning and for House staffers at a noon lunch seminar.

CAST Annual Report 2017
“Reaching New Heights” was the theme of the report, released in March, which contains the following information:
  • Letters from Nancy Reichert (current CAST President) and Kent Schescke (CAST EVP)
  • Spring and Fall Board Meeting summaries, publication rollout info, strategic plan update, Borlaug CAST Communication Award winner highlight, membership list, Board of Trustees updates, financial summaries, and social media growth overview
Animal Welfare Rollout
On Monday, April 23, Dr. Candace Croney, one of the task force cochairs, presented highlights and key findings of Task Force Report 143, Scientific, Ethical, and Economic Aspects of Farm Animal Welfare, at three venues in Washington, D.C. The off-the-hill presentation was cohosted by the Animal Ag Alliance at the American Farm Bureau Federation offices and via zoom video conferencing. Dr. Croney then presented to House staffers at a National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (NC-FAR) Lunch-n-Learn seminar and to Senate staffers in the afternoon.

Borlaug CAST Communication Award Announcement
Dr. Marty Matlock was announced as the 2017 winner of the BCCA on April 24.
  • Matlock is currently the Executive Director of the University of Arkansas Resiliency Center and Professor of Ecological Engineering in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.
  • He is a premier communicator and internationally recognized expert through his global communication efforts in the area of agricultural sustainability.
  • The announcement took place at the USDA Whitten Patio in Washington, D.C.
  • An award presentation will occur at a breakfast side event at the World Food Prize Symposium on October 17 in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Dr. Jayson Lusk, 2017 recipient of the BCCA, spoke at the announcement about The Politicization of Food Consumption and Communication.
  • CropLife Foundation is the 2018-2020 sponsor of the Borlaug CAST Communication Award.
Spring Board Meeting
Directors and senior staff met in Washington, D.C., in April for two days of intense work on organizational policy and governance issues. The focus was on strategic planning, publication proposals, and development work.

OMEGA-3 Fatty Acids Rollout
On Tuesday, May 8, at the American Oil Chemists’ Society’s annual meeting in Minnesota, Dr. Don Beitz presented highlights of CAST’s newest special publication--Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Health Benefits and Dietary Recommendations. Those who were interested in this topic, but unable to attend the event, could tune in to the rollout through a live-stream video feed--thanks to the efforts of AOCS’s staff.

Board of Representatives Changes
  • Agricultural and Applied Economics Association – Jayson Lusk, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Agricultural Economics Department at Purdue University
  • American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) – Alex Thomasson, Professor at Texas A&M University
  • Corteva Agriscience, Agricultural Division of DowDuPont – Melissa Johnson, Foundation Science and Technology Leader
  • United Soybean Board – Tom Oswald, USB Director and Iowa Soybean Farmer
  • Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) – Dallas Peterson, Kansas State University Extension Weed Scientist

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

2018 Julius Shiskin Award

Barry Bosworth and Danny Pfeffermann

Barry Bosworth, Senior Fellow in the Economics Studies Program and Robert V. Roosa Chair in International Economics at the Brookings Institution, and Danny Pfeffermann, Director of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics and Professor of Statistics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel and the University of Southampton, UK, have been selected to receive the 2018 Julius Shiskin Memorial Award for Economic Statistics. The award recognizes unusually original and important contributions in the development of economic statistics or in the use of statistics in interpreting the economy.

Dr. Bosworth is recognized for conducting research using key federal government statistical programs to study topics such capital formation, saving, and productivity growth, and for advising the Statistical agencies to improve these programs. Professor Pfeffermann is recognized for collaborating with statistical agencies around the world to improve several major programs such as time series small area estimation, estimation of mean square error of seasonally adjusted and trend estimators, and modeling of complex survey data, accounting for informative sampling and nonresponse.

Bosworth and Pfeffermann become the 46th and 47st recipients of the Award; they will be honored at events hosted by the three sponsors of the award: the Washington Statistical Society, the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), and the Business and Economics Section of the American Statistical Association.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

2018 AAEA Annual Business Meeting

Monday, August 6, 2018, 8:00 am–8:30 am

AAEA’s annual Business Meeting will be held during the annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Monday, August 6 in Salon 2. This meeting gives members the chance to hear about the state of the association. Updates will be given by the AAEA President, the Finance Committee, and the AAEA Trust Committee. Additionally, Board members and Editors who are completing their terms will be recognized for their service. Lastly, those in attendance will be given an opportunity to voice any questions or concerns that they may have. We hope you’ll join us in Washington, D.C.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Members in the News: Tyner, Zhang, Lusk, Taheripour, Westhoff, and Saitone

Wally Tyner, Purdue University
Tariff list on China could broaden to include aerospace components, intellectual property
By: USA Today - March 26, 2018
If China chooses to go directly after U.S. soybeans, for example, exports could decline as much as 40% and result in more than $3 billion in lost income nationwide, according to some estimates.

“That’s a big deal,” said Wally Tyner, an agricultural economics professor at Purdue University in Indiana.

Most soybeans grown in the U.S. are exported, and China is the largest purchaser. Plus, countries make retaliatory decisions based not just on economics, but on politics, Tyner said. And hitting U.S. farmers would have an economic impact in the rural parts of the country where Trump did very well in 2016.
President Trump's proposed steel tariffs could be an economic boon and curse for this state
By: USA Today - March 8, 2018
Indiana's manufacturers have a different view. Many of those businesses use steel in their products, or sell their goods to other countries that might retaliate if the tariffs spark a broader trade war.

“Since these manufacturing companies are such a large share of income and jobs in Indiana, it is likely that the Indiana economy would suffer from the tariffs even though we do produce aluminum and steel,” said Wally Tyner, an agricultural economics professor at Purdue University.
Welcome to summer and $3-a-gallon gas in the South Bend area
By: South Bend Tribune - May 17, 2018
Petroleum experts like Wallace Tyner, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, say there are a number of contributing factors for the increased prices, ranging from complicated matters of international relations to simple things, such as a change in the season.

“Summer is a driving season, so it has higher demands,” Tyner said. And, “The U.S. has rules that require a gasoline blend (in the summer) that doesn’t evaporate … and that costs more to make. It’s a nickel a gallon more to make it and they pass (that additional cost) on to you and I.”
Read more on: South Bend Tribune

Wendong Zhang, Iowa State University
Iowa Land Values Have Hit Bottom, Moving Higher, Survey Says
By: Successful Farming - May 16, 2018
The survey shows that 170 farm managers, appraisers, land brokers, and ag lenders put more weight on the short-term and medium-term forecasts, according to Wendong Zhang, ISU conference chair.

“What we are seeing in the survey results is a short-term dip in the next six months, followed by a stabilization in the land markets for the next two years,” Zhang told Successful Farming at
Read more on: Successful Farming

*Jayson Lusk, Purdue University
Farm bill addresses lab-meat oversight
By: Arkansas Online - May 16, 2018
As food companies such as Tyson, Campbell’s, Kellogg’s, Chobani and General Mills continue to invest in product development, farmers continue to think about their herds. Several farm groups have affirmed their allegiance to traditional forms of cattle raising in light of the alternative meat movement. While some are staunchly against so-called fake meats, others remain open to the idea of beef or chicken products grown from animal cells — as long as it’s not called meat.

“The livestock groups view this as a competitive threat,” said Jayson Lusk, a distinguished professor and head of the agricultural economics department at Purdue University. Citing the shelf takeover of substitute milk products, Lusk said these groups are worried that mislabeled meat products will eat into their market share.
Read more on: Arkansas Online

Wally Tyner, Purdue University
Farzad Taheripour, Purdue University
Purdue: Soybean farmers could see exports drop if tariffs imposed
By: Logansport Pharos-Tribune - May 7, 2018
Chinese soybean imports from the U.S. could drop by as much 71 percent if China were to impose trade restrictions on U.S. soybeans in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese products, according to a study for the U.S. Soybean Export Council conducted by Purdue University agricultural economists Wally Tyner and Farzad Taheripour.

Using an advanced version of the Global Trade Analysis Project model developed at Purdue, Taheripour and Tyner projected the outcome of several prospective scenarios in which the Chinese government were to adopt tariffs ranging from 10 to 30 percent on U.S soybeans, according to a news release from Purdue.
Read more on: Logansport Pharos-Tribune and Feedstuffs

Pat Westhoff, University of Missouri
Biofuel policy adds to agricultural market uncertainty
Written by Pat Westhoff: Columbia Daily Tribune - May 17, 2018
When a new farm bill is up for debate, it is usually the top source of policy-related uncertainty for farmers and agricultural markets. This year, it might not even make the top two.

Ongoing trade negotiations and disputes have garnered a lot of attention in the farm press. New tariffs on U.S. farm products, for example, could reduce U.S. agricultural exports and commodity prices. Decisions made by trade negotiators may have multi-billion dollar effects on farm income. Biofuel policy decisions also have the potential to have large impacts on commodity markets and farm income.
Read more on: Columbia Daily Tribune

Tina L. Saitone, University of California, Davis
What Value-Added Management Programs Really Add Value to Your Cattle?
Written by Tina L. Saitone: California Cattleman Magazine - April 26, 2018
The ever-expanding suite of value-added management and marketing programs available to cattle ranchers creates substantial ranch-level complexity. Cattlemen today are faced with the challenge of determining which programs will differentiate their cattle on sale day while maximizing the profitability of their operations.

While all of these programs are likely to add costs, the additional income generated from each of these programs is uncertain. Given that lots of cattle sold typically participate in many programs and management decisions must be made months or years in advance of a sale, it is nearly impossible for a rancher to accurately forecast the premium associated with implementing any particular program.
Read more on: California Cattleman Magazine Pages 24-26

See other Member in the News items
If you would like to improve your scientific communications and media skills, attend the Post-conference Workshop on Science Communications and Media Engagement. It is Wednesday, August 8 morning, and costs just $25. Make this important event a part of your meeting schedule this year.
Know another AAEA Member who has made statewide, national, or international news?
Send a link of the article to
What research and topics are you working on? Want to be an expert source for journalists working on a story? Contact Allison Scheetz at
*Articles in response to the AAEA Communicating Out Strategy Press Releases highlighting: Government Relations, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, Choices Magazine, General Media, and/or 2018 AAEA Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

Members in the News: Lusk, Zhang, Bovay, Brown, Muhammad, and Smith

Jayson Lusk, Purdue University
The Cost of Happy Hens
By: TEDx Talks YouTube - May 8, 2018
Recently there has been a strong push for better treatment of produce animals. Jason's talk asks whether society is ready to pay the price for the better treatment and if the better treatment society is pushing for really increases the animal's standard of living. A distinguished Professor and Head of the Agricultural Economics Department at Purdue University, Jayson Lusk received a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University in 2000. He served as a visiting researcher at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research and worked on a research fellowship awarded by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.
Listen on: TEDx Talks YouTube

Wendong Zhang, Iowa State University
U.S. Observations May 9, 2018 Content
By: Voa Chinese - May 9, 2018
President Trump of the United States and Chinese President Xi Jinping call on Tuesday to discuss trade and North Korea issues; Tuesday, the United States includes four states including West Virginia, as of November this year China’s midterm election held a primary election; China imposed tariffs on U.S. pork and intensified inspections. VOA reporters took you to Iowa, the largest pork producer in the United States, to learn about local responses to Chinese practices; Prosecutor General of the State of New York, USA Schneiderman announced his resignation Monday, after the four women accused him of physical abuse. Two things that happened on the US campus caused a lot of trouble in the foreign students and the Chinese community. Why are the nationalist nerves of some Chinese and foreign students so sensitive? 39 years ago, the San Francisco Island nuclear power plant in central Pennsylvania in the United States took the worst commercial nuclear accident in the history of the United States. This incident changed the nuclear power industry in the United States.
Listen on: Voa Chinese
Hear Wendong Zhang on minute 11:11.
Trade tensions may be slowing soybean sales to China
By: Iowa Farm Bureau - May 7, 2018
The threat of trade tariffs is prompting Chinese importers to look beyond the United States for more of their ag imports, according to Wendong Zhang, an ISU Extension economist. “I fear that in many ways the harm has already been done even if the tariffs don’t come into play,” he said. “The trade tensions have really rattled the Chinese buyers.
Read more on: Iowa Farm Bureau

*John Bovay, University of Connecticut
The Economics of Food Safety
By: Quality Assurance & Food Safety - April 2018
John Bovay, assistant professor and extension economist for the University of Connecticut Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, sees the greatest economic impact of FSMA as affecting small business. “The costs of complying with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule will be onerous for small farms because large farms will be able to achieve some economies of scale in compliance,” he said, adding, “The same phenomena will occur in the food manufacturing and processing industry, which is affected by the Preventive Controls rule.”
Read more on: Quality Assurance & Food Safety

Scott Brown, University of Missouri
Australia makes its move in global beef market
Written by Scott Brown: Delta Farm Press - May 7, 2018
USDA recently released its twice-per-year look at international beef markets, and projections for 2018 show the largest growth in world beef production since 2006.

While the U.S. is contributing a large share to the 2.4% world growth, countries outside of the U.S. are projected to increase output by 1.6% this year, the largest increase for all non-U.S. countries since 2013 and the third-largest since 2007.
Read more on: Delta Farm Press

Andrew Muhammad, University of Tennessee
Aaron Smith, University of California, Davis
Chinese tariffs threaten ‘profound’ loss to U.S. soybeans
By: Delta Farm Press - May 2, 2018
Andrew Muhammad, professor and Blasingame Chair of Excellence, and Aaron Smith, assistant professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, examine the impact of a potential retaliatory tariff from China in a new report, Evaluating the Impact of Retaliatory Tariffs on U.S. Soybeans in China.

“Our analysis indicates that exports could drop by $1.4 billion to $7.7 billion if a 25 percent tariff is applied to U.S. soybean exports to China, resulting in a potential farm-level loss of 33 cents to $1.76 per bushel,” Muhammad and Smith say.
Read more on: Delta Farm Press

See other Member in the News items
If you would like to improve your scientific communications and media skills, attend the Post-conference Workshop on Science Communications and Media Engagement. It is Wednesday, August 8 morning, and costs just $25. Make this important event a part of your meeting schedule this year.
Know another AAEA Member who has made statewide, national, or international news?
Send a link of the article to
What research and topics are you working on? Want to be an expert source for journalists working on a story? Contact Allison Scheetz at
*Articles in response to the AAEA Communicating Out Strategy Press Releases highlighting: Government Relations, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, Choices Magazine, General Media, and/or 2018 AAEA Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.