Monday, August 20, 2018

Members in the News: Swinton, Offutt, Marchant, Isengildina-Massa, Hurt, Glauber, Unnevehr, Bohman, Lusk, Laborde, Kumar, Spielman, Sumner, and Smith

*Scott Swinton, Michigan State University
Susan Offutt, FAO
Scientists are raising the alarm that upcoming USDA overhaul will slash research funding
By: The Washington Post - August 16, 2018
Scott Swinton, an agricultural economist at Michigan State and the former president of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, said the reorganization may be a pretext for gutting federal agricultural research. Many top economists and scientists will resign, he predicts, rather than leave the D.C. area. Ramaswamy, the former NIFA administrator, said many longtime staffers in that office will not make the move, either.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has warned that placing ERS in the Secretary’s Office could intensify political scrutiny of its research, an issue the office’s current placement was designed to prevent. It is not unusual for ERS reports to contradict or complicate administration policy, said Susan Offutt, a former ERS administrator who served in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
Read more on: The Washington Post

Mary Marchant, Virginia Tech
Olga Isengildina-Massa, Virginia Tech
Christ Hurt, Purdue University
Both sides of the aisle stretch the truth in the soybean debate
By: The Washington Post - August 13, 2018
U.S. agriculture experienced a “golden period” from 2011 to 2014, according to Mary Marchant, a professor at Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. She pointed out that supply and demand lined up in favor of U.S. agriculture during those years, producing big profits. Farm income began to decline in 2013 (not 2003 as Trump suggests), and the decline continued through 2016 as “increased plantings, combined with good weather, led to record U.S. farm production.” In other words, there was more supply than demand.
Christopher Hurt, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, is quoted as saying that “the total value of this year’s U.S. corn, soybean and wheat crops dropped about $13 billion, or 10 percent, in June.”
Moreover, Hurt made these estimates using the commodities futures markets. Olga Isengildina Massa, a commodity markets expert at Virginia Tech, said these markets represent what soybeans, corn and wheat would sell for after harvest, which in some cases is months away. She added that these futures do not immediately affect all farmers. Many farmers set a fixed price for their crops before the growing season and so avoid the market’s whims. All of that means these projections shouldn’t be considered a value that has been “already lost,” as Heitkamp says.
Read more on: The Washington Post

Joseph Glauber, International Food Policy Research Institute
Fish Caught in America, Processed in China Get Trapped by Trade Dispute
By: The Wall Street Journal - August 9, 2018
The next round of U.S. tariffs aimed at Chinese imports could wind up hurting a major trade product that initially comes from America: fish. A 10% duty proposed by the Trump administration last month on $200 billion worth of imports from China included dozens of varieties of fish, from tilapia to tuna. The proposed tariffs, which could increase to 25%, are set to be decided in September by trade representatives
Read more on: The Wall Street Journal and AgriNews
Nicklaus: Soybean farmers prefer free market to government handout
By: St. Louis Today - August 4, 2018
Joseph Glauber, senior fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, says Hurst’s concern is justified. “Brazil will plant more,” he said. “Once those acres are developed, planted and brought into production, that is market share the U.S. will either not gain as China continues to grow, or will lose.”
Read more on: St. Louis Today

Laurian Unnevehr, University of Illinois
Mary Bohman, USDA-Economic Research Service
Jayson Lusk, Purdue University
'A complete shock': Economists stunned by USDA's decision to move economic research arm
By: Politico - August 15, 2018
“That was a complete shock to staff when that email came out last Thursday,” said Laurian Unnevehr, a former director of ERS' Food Economics Division.
A shakeup at the top of ERS was set in motion just before Thursday's announcement: Mary Bohman, formerly the agency administrator, was reassigned to the department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, where she will fill a vacancy for the post of associate administrator for economics, USDA confirmed to POLITICO on Monday.
Jayson Lusk, who heads Purdue University's agricultural economics department and who attended the event, said that while the relocation was “a real kick in the pants” for ERS employees, the reorganization could have both pros and cons in the long term.
Read more on: Politico

David Laborde, International Food Policy Research Institute
Retaliatory tariffs take heavy toll on U.S. farmers
By: Politifact - August 9, 2018
However, the agricultural industry is on average much more dependent on world markets than other industries, according to David Laborde, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Exports comprise 10 percent of total GDP in the United States, whereas they comprise about 20 percent of GDP in the American agricultural sector. That fraction is even higher for crops like cotton (76 percent is exported), soybeans (50 percent) and wheat (46 percent), according to USDA.
Read more on: Politifact

Anjani Kumar, International Food Policy Research Institute
Life and death in Delhi’s underbelly
By: Live Mint - August 9, 2018
“The opportunities in cities are shrinking but there is an influx of people coming from rural areas,” says International Food Policy Research Institute’s research fellow Anjani Kumar. “When there is distress migration, and the migrants don’t find gainful employment, they suffer even more than they would back in their villages. Getting employment is difficult, and we don’t have a system in place that can provide support in the initial phases, so that these people can sustain for at least some time. When they come, they directly enter the labor market, with no support whatsoever,” Kumar says.
Read more on: Live Mint

David Spielman, International Food Policy Research Institute
Bayer-Monsanto: Are they coming for our seeds?
By: The Ken - July 8, 2018
Big Ag just became humongous. On July 4, Bayer AG, the German multinational pharma company, bought the world's most controversial agriculture company, Mosanto, on a $66-billion deal that gave Bayer control over a whopping 30% of the global seed market and a quarter of the pesticide market.
Read more on: The Ken

Daniel Sumner, University of California, Davis
UC: Tariffs could cost fruit, nut industries over $3 billion
By: Western Farm Press - August 15, 2018
“One way to mitigate the impact of the tariff impacts would be to offer assistance to shift the products to completely new markets where these displaced commodities could be delivered without causing price declines,” said co-author Daniel A. Sumner, director of the UC ANR Agricultural Issues Center and UC Davis professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
When nuts and fruits are diverted back into the remaining markets for their crops, Sumner and co-author Tristan M. Hanon, a UC Davis graduate student researcher, expect farmers to lose revenue from lower prices.
Read more on: Western Farm Press

Vincent Smith, Montana State University
Congress Approves Agricultural Subsidy Bill, Though Differences Remain
By: The Heartland Institute - August 13, 2018
Vincent Smith, a professor of agricultural economics at Montana State University and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says the reforms in the Senate farm bill would help limit the ability of big businesses to game the system.
“The average farm, under these programs, gets less than $10,000 from the programs,” Smith said. “That tells you that most farms are not going to be affected by going from two eligible people to one eligible person. Who would be affected are likely the large farms, which one way or another have several ways of getting around certain eligibility restraints. If we go to one eligible person per farm, farms that are getting $300,000 to $400,000 a year from subsidies will no longer receive so much.”
Read more on: The Heartland Institute

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*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.

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