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President Column - November 2017

This month’s column looks back at applied economists honored at the World Food Prize and forward to AAEA meetings ahead.

World Food Prize.  It is truly humbling to see how members of our profession can creatively apply the economics of constraint alleviation, incentive design, and technology development to make the world a better place. Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, received the 2017 World Food Prize (WFP) in October. With the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations, Adesina found ways to partner with banks to extend credit to smallholder farmers. Later, as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, he created the E-Wallet program that made personalized fertilizer vouchers available via cellphone, expanding smallholder access while circumventing corrupt middlemen. Last year, agricultural economist Jan Low co-won the 2016 World Food Prize for her survey research to inform plant breeding and diffusion of the biofortified, orange-fleshed sweet potato and later to measure its economic impact. Previous applied economists to win the WFP are Per Pinstrup-Andersen (2001) and Muhammad Yunus (1994).

Creatively shaping his message to the audience led Jayson Lusk to receive the Borlaug CAST Communication Award from the Council of Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST).  At the WFP event, CAST lauded Lusk’s impact in communicating the benefits of agricultural technology to skeptical Americans. His most recent book, Unnaturally Delicious: How Science and Technology Are Serving Up Super Foods to Save the World, uses case studies to offer personal perspectives on technological benefits, in contrast to more formal academic approaches like economic surplus analysis.

ASSA in Philadelphia. AAEA has lots going on at the 2018 Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) meetings in Philadelphia, January 5-7, 2018.  We’ll have opportunities to mingle at receptions on Friday, January 5, after the T.W. Schultz lecture, and on Saturday, January 6, at the AAEA Networking Reception. We plan to repeat last year’s successful mentoring match-up of early career and established members attending ASSA. To top it off, we have a great Schultz speaker and six sessions on timely topics:

  • T.W. Schultz Memorial Lecture: Dave Donaldson, 2017 John Bates Clark Medal winner, will speak on “Comparative Advantage and the Gains from Market Integration.”
  • Behavioral and Experimental Economics: Insights for Agri-environmental Challenges
  • E-commerce and the Agrifood Supply Chain
  • Tax Reform and United States Farm Income
  • Agricultural Production, Diets, and Health
  • The Geography of American Despair and Declining Economic Opportunity
  • Trade in an Environment of Increasing Economic Nationalism

Deadlines coming up. Looking ahead to the 2018 AAEA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., August 5-7, we welcome your contributions to the program (see below). Propose something!

Scott Swinton
AAEA President

Open Calls:

November 30, 2017 Deadlines

January 17, 2018 Deadlines

Award Nominations Open:

February 8, 2018 Deadlines