Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Senior Section Track Sessions at 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting

Examine the Implications of “Big Data” for Farm Risk Management

In recent years, the term “Big Data” has marched boldly into our vocabulary. Many economists know about big data but most are still learning about the full meaning of the advent of big data for the agricultural industry. The rapid expansion of more integrated input, output, and climate data has the potential to change many aspects of farm management, especially risk management.

This track session, planned by the Extension and Senior Sections for the 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting in San Francisco, will explore some of the issues that arise from this emerging scenario. The session will focus on how these new data, and analyses of these data, can influence risk management decisions and programs. An excellent line-up of knowledgeable speakers, chosen to reflect varied perspectives on this rapidly evolving topic, will share their perspectives. What can geo-spatial information add to crop insurance rating? How do farm organizations view this issue? What are the implications for USDA agencies and university researchers? Ines Kapphan, Product Manager at the Climate Corporation, will address how industry sees the implications for risk management. The Climate Corporation aims to help farmers around the world with software, hardware and insurance products. Participants will have the opportunity to address and discuss these and other questions, gaining an increased appreciation for the challenges in this area.

It is expected that this session will be of great interest to many applied economists. The session will take place Monday afternoon, July 27, 2:45 pm, Room Sierra F in the Marriott.

Incorporating Ethics into Economic Analysis

What do ethics have to do with economic analysis? Ethical issues are created when there is a conflict of interest and/or values between or among economic entities. Such conflicts are pervasive among the types of problems examined in economics. Examples include the principal-agent model, the externality problem and the design of economic policy that impacts diverse stakeholders. Sometimes, mainstream economists are reluctant to consider ethics as a viable facet of economic thought and analysis, in part because of the belief that economic analysis can remain value neutral. However, the maintenance of value neutrality is not possible when interests and/or values conflict, since judgements have to be made about which interests or values take precedence and because such conflicts often affect the behavior of economic actors. This creates an opportunity, if not an expectation, for a consideration of ethics in economic analysis.

In this session, co-sponsored by the Institutional and Behavioral Economics Section and the Senior Section, the presenters will consider both conceptual and empirical approaches to incorporating ethics into economics analysis, with particular attention to the kinds of problems of interest to agricultural and applied economists. Noted speakers will discuss how contemporary ethics can provide promising modes of engagement with economists, how surveys and experimental economics can inform on the ethical motivations of consumers, how behavioral economics can be used to illustrate the ethical ramifications of nudging, and how specific economic models can be modified to include explicit references to ethical considerations.

This promises to be a powerful session, with an increasingly relevant topic addressed by presenters noted for their work in ethics and behavioral economics. Put it on your meeting calendar: Tuesday, July 28, 1:00 pm, Room Sierra E. Seating may be limited.

Track Session on Prospects for GMO Labeling

The rapid adoption of GMO varieties of corn, soybeans, and cotton has precipitated consumer concerns about labeling food products containing GMO ingredients. Bills to require GMO labeling, or otherwise regulate genetically engineered foods, have been introduced in over 30 states and more initiatives are in process. Connecticut’s and Maine’s legislatures have passed bills mandating the labeling of foods containing GMOs, but for both enactment is contingent upon passage of similar legislation in nearby states. Vermont’s law to require labeling delayed enactment for two years and in the meantime is being challenged in the courts. Last November, Colorado and Oregon voters rejected ballot measures that would have made GMO labeling mandatory. Similar measures were defeated in California in 2012, and in Washington in 2013. Congress also will be considering legislation, which would likely preempt state efforts.

This issue has significant international implications with the planted acreage of GMO crops in developing countries exceeding that of industrial nations, and many other countries, including the entire European Union, requiring labeling of genetically modified foods.

What are the prospects for GMO food labeling and for GMO foods, in general? That’s the question for this track session, co-sponsored by the Senior and Extension Sessions at the 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The presenters will discuss the factors that are involved in answering this question, including consumer reactions to GMOs, the costs of mandatory GMO labeling, and the potential for new developments. Two “outside” presenters will be Alison Van Eenennaam, Animal Scientist, University of California, Davis, and Michael K. Hansen, Senior Staff Scientist with Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.

Don’t miss this session at 2:45 pm on Tuesday, July 28 in the Pacific H Room of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. Come early if you want a seat!

1 comment:

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