Thursday, February 25, 2021

Call for Papers - Risks in Agricultural Supply Chains

Virtual Conference May 20-21, 2021

Falling transportation costs and increased trade integration have led to a lengthening and geographic spread of agricultural supply chains.  Farmers have also become increasingly reliant on specialized inputs in production, such as technologically advanced seeds. These developments have increased productivity in the agricultural sector, while also potentially raising both the risk of supply-chain disruptions and the cost of such disruptions.  Network models and other economic tools can help to identify the sources of risk in the food supply chain and can provide input for designing policies to reduce risks and ameliorate their consequences.

To promote research on economic issues that involve agricultural supply chains, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), with the support of the Economic Research Service at USDA, is launching a research project on “Risks in Agricultural Supply Chains.”  It will be co-directed by Pol Antràs (Harvard and NBER) and David Zilberman (University of California, Berkeley). The project will include a virtual research conference on May 20-21, 2021. The meeting will bring together researchers in various subfields of economics, including agricultural economics, development economics, industrial organization, international trade, and organizational economics, to study issues of current importance and to frame the future research agenda on supply chain risk. In addition to research presentations, the conference will include a panel discussion by industry and government experts on public policy and food supply chain risks.

Research on a wide range of issues relating to risk in agricultural supply chains is welcome. Particular topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Measuring supply chains in the agricultural sector and assessing the economic factors that have contributed to changes in their length over time.
  • Developing metrics for evaluating risk and resilience in the food supply chain.
  • Assessing the role of weather, pandemics, and other natural disasters that might limit crop or livestock production.
  • Studying the role of shipping disruptions, which can arise from political factors such as border closings as well as from natural factors such as earthquakes or hurricanes, in contributing to supply chain risk.
  • Calibrating the risk and consequences of inadvertent or deliberate contamination of various agricultural products.
  • Evaluating the near-term and long-term risks to agricultural supply chains from climate change.
  • Describing the interaction between innovation in the agricultural sector and supply-chain risk.
  • Outlining the impacts of public policies, including agricultural policies, trade policies, and environmental policies, on the nature of agricultural supply chains and their risk of disruption.
  • Exploring the nature of supply-chain risks in specific agri-food sectors, such as livestock, organic food, and wine.

The co-organizers welcome the submission of both theoretical and empirical research papers on these and other related topics. Submissions from scholars who are early in their careers, with and without NBER affiliations, and who are members of groups that have been under-represented in economics historically are especially welcome.

To be considered for inclusion on the program, papers must be uploaded by midnight (EST) on Thursday, March 11, 2021 to:

Authors chosen to present papers at the conference will be notified in late March, 2021.

Please do not submit papers that will be published by May 2021. Papers that are presented at the conference will be eligible for distribution in the NBER working paper series. In addition, all papers presented at the conference will be eligible for inclusion in a conference proceedings volume that will be published by the University of Chicago Press. Authors will receive a modest honorarium for their participation in the project, along with support in working with staff members at the Economic Research Service to identify data sets and other inputs to the research process that may be support their analysis. All co-authors will be invited to participate in the conference, which will be live-streamed to expand dissemination of the research findings.

Questions about this conference may be addressed to

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