Monday, January 21, 2019

Members in the News: Ortiz-Bobea, Knippenberg, Chambers, Zilberman, Lee, Offutt, and Brewer

Ariel Ortiz-Bobea, Cornell University
Erwin Knippenberg, Cornell University
Robert G. Chambers, University of Maryland
Midwesterners are being forced to face up to climate change
By: The Economist - January 11, 2019
Yet Midwesterners are being pressed to think again. Rising sea levels or fast-moving forest fires that ravaged California this year might not threaten America’s heartland. But other changes do. Take agriculture which suffers as soil dries, rain falls erratically and winters get less cold. The National Climate Assessment, published late in November, warned of especially sharp rises in temperature in the Midwest, along with more intense rainfall and periods of drought. Research published in December by Ariel Ortiz-Bobea of Cornell University concurs with that. He suggests farmers are already enduring lower yields than they would otherwise, had climate change not been under way. Those who grow crops—the region depends heavily on harvesting corn and soy beans--see productivity suffer from big changes in the weather, especially hotter summers.
Mr Ortiz-Bobea studied the impact of increasingly frequent drought years, notably in 1983, 1988 and 2012, and concluded that farmers’ productivity grew more sensitive to changing weather in the years since the 1980s, compared with an earlier period. Though some farmers gain (especially in the north) from longer planting and harvesting seasons, “the region is more vulnerable than we’d like to believe”, he says. More warming in the coming decades will mean sharper declines in the potential yield.

David Zilberman, University of California, Berkeley
Wolf Prize laureates announced
By: The Jerusalem Post - January 16, 2019
The names of the seven laureates of the prestigious Wolf Prize in the fields of medicine, architecture, agriculture, chemistry and mathematics were announced on Wednesday at a ceremony held at the President’s Residence. Two Israelis living in the United States – acclaimed Haifa-born architect Moshe Safdie, and Jerusalem-born Prof. David Zilberman who is an expert in agricultural and resource economics – are among the seven people who will be awarded the prize in the Knesset’s Chagall Hall at the end of May.
Read more on: The Jerusalem Post, Wolf Foundation and Haaretz

John E. Lee, Mississippi State University
Susan Offutt, FAO
Is Trump Trying To Politicize Agricultural Data? Some Former USDA Officials Suspect Yes.
By: FiveThirtyEight - January 17, 2019
The new plan would move ERS from the research arm of the USDA to one that supports the administration’s policies from within the agriculture secretary’s office. That’s worrisome, said John E. Lee, the administrator of ERS from 1981 to 1993, because the agency’s position under the undersecretary for science and education has helped to protect it as a place for objective science. Moving it to the offices of the chief economist places it in a branch centered on policy, which could threaten its ability to remain policy-neutral. (Lee recently wrote an op-ed in The Hill voicing his opposition to the plan.)
“Every administration I’ve worked for — both Democrat and Republican — at some point gets uncomfortable with one piece or another of ERS analysis,” said Susan Offutt, the ERS administrator under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. As an example, she pointed to research showing that most farmers are fairly well off. “It’s not a politically popular finding,” she said, adding such finding are why it’s essential to keep the agency in a neutral role, lest inconvenient statistics like those disappear.
Read more on: FiveThirtyEight

Brady Brewer, Purdue University
Ag Lenders Preparing for Tough 2019
By: Hoosier Ag Today - January 15, 2019
Ag lenders are preparing for a tough 2019 as well as farmers. Purdue Ag Econ Professor Brady Brewer told attendees at the Purdue Top Farmer Conference the results of a survey given to ag lenders.
“What the lenders are saying is that they have some farmers that are doing alright, and they have some farmers that they’re worrying about. Overall, their loan portfolio is pretty stable, but just given the decreasing commodity prices and some of the trade issues, they’re worried about repayment capacity moving forward here to 2019.”
Brewer said that the most common response from the survey was that lenders are looking for a plan for 2019. Even if that plan includes a loss on the year.
Read more on: Hoosier Ag Today

See other Member in the News items
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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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