Monday, August 5, 2019

Members in the News: Sheldon, Ortega, Unnevehr, Offutt, Boehm, Bolotova, Roe, Griffin, Yeager, Khanna, Miao, Davis, Anderson, Baker, Bevis, and Kim

Ian Sheldon, The Ohio State University
How soybeans became China’s most powerful weapon in Trump’s trade war
Written by Ian Sheldon: The Conversation - May 30, 2019
Soybeans may not seem all that useful in a war. Nonetheless they’ve become China’s most important weapon in its ever-worsening trade conflict with the U.S.
China, the world’s biggest buyer of the crop, has reportedly stopped purchasing any American soybeans in retaliation for the Trump administration raising tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese goods. This is very bad news for U.S. farmers.
Read more on: The Conversation, UPI, Wharton, The Columbus Dispatch, and CantonRep

David Ortega, Michigan State University
Coffee Farmers Are In Crisis. Starbucks Wants To Help
By: Forbes - July 31, 2019
Coffee is one of the more challenging crops to grow, says agricultural economist David Ortega, PhD, who has done research with growers in Rwanda. Coffee farmers are usually the lowest paid in the supply chain. Even worse, he says, “the price that coffee farmers receive for their coffee barely above the cost of production.”
That’s not something the industry can ignore. “If the farmer’s not doing well, they’re going to exit the coffee sector,” says Ortega. Because coffee trees take years to cultivate, if a farmer abandons their crops, there’s not much chance of ever going back. That could mean a significant drop in production for the industry, says Ortega: “a sector with very little coffee being grown.”
Read more on: Forbes

Laurian Unnevehr, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Susan Offutt, DLC Consulting

Rebecca Boehm, Union of Concerned Scientist
'Cut, Relocate, Eviscerate': Moving a USDA Research Agency Will Have Lasting Consequences, Employees Say
By: Pacific Standard - July 18, 2019
Former employees say the USDA's decision to move the headquarters will do more than sideline food assistance work: It will bury it. "[The relocation] decimates the program, and it will take years to rebuild," says Laurian Unnevehr, a former director of the ERS food economics division, which studies food nutrition programs, food prices, and food safety.
"The department clearly believes that farmers are the main customers for ERS work, and that's not right," says Susan Offutt, a former ERS administrator and former chief economist of the U.S. Government Accountability Office. "It dismisses all the other people in the country who look to ERS for research that's not directly on farmers and farm welfare, and that includes food assistance."
Rebecca Boehm, a food and environment economist with the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists, says that, if the move affects data collection, it puts the future of assistance programs at risk. "Without that information, we're flying blind and don’t know where we should be aiming policies to remedy food insecurity issues," she says.
Read more on: Pacific Standard

Yuliya Bolotova, Clemson University
The food industry has a price-fixing problem
By: The Week - July 19, 2019
"Unfortunately, price-fixing has become too common in the modern food industry," Yuliya Bolotova, an assistant professor of agribusiness at Clemson University, writes in an email.
According to Bolotova, who has studied price-fixing in the food industry, the recent cases began because the chicken and pork industries were over-producing: The meat-processing companies weren't able to sell product at a cost that was profitable to them, so they "implemented a series of production cuts," writes Bolotova in a 2019 working paper presented to the Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
Read more on: The Week

Brian Roe, The Ohio State University
Most people waste more food than they think—here's how to fix it
By: National Geographic - April 24, 2019
“It’s a pretty universal response to any negative accusation,” said Ohio State Food Waste Collaborative director Brian Roe, who’s gotten similar results in his own work. “Nobody wants to admit or think that they are the problem.”
“Perhaps the interpretation is composting lets them off the hook emotionally from feeling bad about wasting food,” said Roe, a professor of agricultural, environmental, and developmental economics. “Composting is not a bad thing, but you’d prefer to not create the food waste in the first place. It’s going to have a lot more social and environmental benefits.”
Read more on: National Geographic, WOSU Radio, and Columbus Business First

Terry Griffin, Kansas State University
Elizabeth Yeager,
Kansas State University
Guidance Goes Small - Ag technology companies seek to bring high-end GPS auto-steering to sub-1,000-acre farms.
By: Progressive Farmer - August 1, 2019
Terry Griffin, associate professor at Kansas State University’s (KSU) Department of Agricultural Economics, has been studying the rate at which farms in Kansas adopt technology.
Few innovations necessarily are adopted quickly, but nothing’s been picked up like precision automated guidance. Griffin and Elizabeth Yeager, also an associate professor in the same department at KSU, found data collected from 621 Kansas farms showed this to be the case. In 2005, about 12% of surveyed farmers used it. That shot up to nearly 40 percent by 2010 and was approaching 70 percent by 2018.
Read more on: Progressive Farmer

Madhu Khanna, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ruiqing Miao,
Auburn University
Wind turbine design and placement can mitigate negative effect on birds
By: Ohio’s Country Journal - July 26, 2019
While the study did find a negative effect on some breeding birds, it also suggests ways to mitigate that effect through wind turbine design and placement, explains Madhu Khanna, professor of agricultural and consumer economics in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. Khanna is co-author of the study. “We found that there was a negative impact of three birds lost for every turbine within 400 meters of a bird habitat. The impact faded away as distance increased,” Khanna said.
“We compared bird routes that were close to turbines with those that were further away, making it possible to more easily and precisely identify the impact of the turbine, while controlling for other unobservable factors,” said Ruiqing Miao, assistant professor of agricultural economics at Auburn University and lead author on the study.
Read more on: Ohio’s Country Journal

George Davis, Virginia Tech
New Report By Virginia Tech Suggests SNAP Benefits Underestimate the Full Cost of Food
By: Oklahoma Farm Report - July 30, 2019
Virginia Tech’s George Davis says “the estimates used for the SNAP assume there is no labor cost in food production. Labor costs are included in everything we buy. In the present case, the labor cost would include going to the grocery store, meal planning and meal preparation. Thus, ignoring labor costs leads to an underestimate of the full cost of a healthy diet.”
Read more on: Oklahoma Farm Report

David Anderson, Texas A&M University
BBQ lovers: Here are some reasons why brisket is starting to cost more
By: Kxan - July 25, 2019
According to Dr. David Anderson, professor and extension economist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University says last week’s average price for choice quality grade was about 15% higher than the same week in the previous year.
“It’s really indicative of this growing demand in the marketplace from all of us consumers who like barbecue,” he said.
Read more on: Kxan

Gregory Baker, Santa Clara University
We’re leaving so much food on farms to just rot in the fields
By: Fast Company - July 24, 2019
But the findings from the study, while limited to a specific region in California, should wake growers up to the magnitude of loss likely happening in their fields. “The first step in addressing this problem is measuring it,” says Gregory Baker, executive director of the Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University.
Read more on: Fast Company

Leah Bevis, The Ohio State University
Kichan Kim,
The Ohio State University
Stunting in Nepal: Besides chauchau and chips, local crops may also be responsible
By: Online Khabar - July 24, 2019
A study by an international team of agriculture scientists says that in some areas of Nepal, children’s dependency on local food may not help them become as tall as the kids from other parts of the world. Researchers Leah Bevis, David Guerena and Kichan Kim say that many of Nepal’s soils, like that of other countries in South Asia, are poor in terms of the availability of zinc, a major nutrient needed for cognitive and physical development of human beings. They say that crops produced on such soil do not have sufficient amount of zinc needed for human beings; and this in turn increases the risk of stunting.
Read more on: Online Khabar

See other Member in the News items
Know another AAEA Member who has made statewide, national, or international news?
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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 2019 AAEA Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

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