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President's Column

New AAEA Teaching Publication and Proposed Federal Cuts to Applied Econ
March 2018

Among its goals, AAEA aims to strengthen professional communication and to look out for the general welfare of our members.  My column this month hits on both topics:

  • Applied Economics Teaching Resources, the AAEA’s newest publication seeks an Inaugural Editor;
  • The U.S. President’s FY2019 budget proposes cuts and restructuring to agricultural economics programs that would especially affect the USDA Economic Research Service.

Applied Economics Teaching Resources

At the January 2018 Board meeting, the AAEA Board approved Applied Economics Teaching Resources to debut as the AAEA’s newest publication in 2019.  The peer-reviewed series will establish a new home for case studies, classroom games, pedagogical impact studies, and other teaching resources of interest to agricultural and applied economists.  I am very excited at the prospect strengthening our teaching by creating a home for excellent teaching resources that merit sharing across our profession.

For quality assurance, the series will be peer reviewed under the supervision of a compensated editor and a five-member editorial board that includes two AEM members, one TLC member, and two other AAEA members. The publication will be distributed through AgEconSearch.  It is anticipated that authors will be able to track impacts through both anonymous, open-access downloads on AgEconSearch and controlled access to instructor downloads of teaching notes.  Further details on the planning process behind the AETR are available in my AAEA blog post from January 31, 2018.

Key to launching the AETR on a successful trajectory will be its Inaugural Editor.  The AAEA just began its search with the Call for Applications: Inaugural Editor, Applied Economics Teaching Resources.   Applications are due by April 1, 2018, to Kristen McGuire, AAEA Executive Director, at  For anyone wishing further background on the AETR and the Board’s expectations, just pop me an email to set a time to talk (

Agricultural and Applied Economics in the U.S. President’s Proposed FY 2019 Budget

The U.S. federal government has a history of providing Americans with timely data and analysis about our agricultural and food system.  The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) plays a crucial role inside the federal government in providing policy-relevant economic data and analysis. The Charles Valentine Riley Foundation just released an informative report with history and details by Kitty Smith Evans called, Economic Research Service: Specialized Agency Functions and Public Goods’ Provision.

The role of the ERS would change fundamentally under the U.S. President’s proposed FY 2019 budget.  Released February 12, the budget would slash the ERS budget by 48% and its staff numbers by 55%. The budget’s Explanatory Notes state that, “This budget level will largely eliminate ERS’ research activities” (p. 16-8), in preparation for combining it with the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in 2020.  A cogent summary in the latest AAEA Government Relations Update identifies research programs to be eliminated, including farm, conservation, and trade policy; returns to agricultural R&D; food and nutrition assistance programs, food access, and consumer choices.  While many data products will be maintained, most remaining research programs will be sharply curtailed.

Apart from the ERS, the President’s budget proposes modest cuts to other programs related to agricultural and applied economics. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) would see a 7.4% cut in its Agricultural Estimates programs compared with enacted FY2017 funding, some consolidation of programs, and a slight increase in budget for the Census of Agriculture.  The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) would see a 7.7% cut. This would largely occur in educational programs, as requested research funding is largely unchanged from FY2017.  Outside USDA, the FY2019 budget also proposes a 48% cut in the USAID Global Food Security Strategy Food Security program that also supports agricultural and applied economics activities.

While the President’s FY2019 budget is unlikely to be enacted in current form, it proposes an unprecedented shift in the size and shape of intramural federal research in agricultural economics. The AAEA leadership is preparing to respond with visits to key individuals in the administration and in Congress to elucidate the contributions of major federal programs related to agricultural and applied economics.  Members who wish to keep abreast of developments in federal support for data and research on agricultural, food, and resource economics may consult the AAEA Government Relations Updates or the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) website.