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President's Column

Am I seriously “looking forward to Washington, D.C. in August”? You bet I am! This column should whet your appetite for a feast of professional learning, connections, and opportunity. With over 200 sessions, ten pre- and post-conferences, and a new job fair, the meetings have something for everyone. I’ll end the column with updates on other AAEA initiatives in progress.

Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., August 5-7 
Home to the largest concentration of applied economists in the world, Washington, D.C., makes an ideal meeting venue for AAEA. This summer’s meeting will highlight economics that make a difference. The meeting will open with a keynote from African Development Bank, President Akinwumi Adesina. Dr. Adesina won the 2017 World Food Prize in large part for the way he designed and implemented incentive-compatible methods of targeting fertilizer and seed subsidies to Nigerian farmers. The meeting will close with the Galbraith Lecture by Paul Romer, professor of economics at New York University and recent Chief Economist at the World Bank. Dr. Romer has explored how the information economy is changing the role of cities, especially in the developing world. What will this transformation mean for the prosperity of rural areas?

For his President’s Address, David Zilberman has given me no clues. But those who know David will expect a forward-looking vision of the bioeconomy, the political economy, and our roles as professionals. John Antle’s Fellows Address will tackle Data, Economics, and Computational Agricultural Science. What are the prospects for bioeconomic modeling and economists in the age of Big Data (and precise data) in agriculture? This year’s Invited Paper sessions will explore economics of gene editing, food waste, mobile phone platforms in developing countries, markets for pollution abatement, and teaching cases. Also, the Washington Update track session promises to be especially interesting in this Farm Bill year. 

AERE is partnering with AAEA this year on an exciting pair of environmental policy sessions. The Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) has long been present at AAEA annual meetings with selected papers by AERE members. This year, AERE collaborated with AAEA Land, Water, and Environmental Economics (ENV) Section to invite speakers. The sessions on Applied Economics for Practical Policymaking and State and Regional Climate Regulation feature seasoned environmental policy thinkers from inside and outside government at this historically challenging moment. 

AAEA will host a new Job Fair on Sunday, August 5, 2018. Expanding beyond the traditional one-on-one interview format of the Employment Center, this fair will attract a broad range of employers for all levels of graduates in agricultural and applied economics. AAEA members are uniquely qualified to apply economics to agricultural and food topics, and the Job Fair aims to link employers to job candidates. 

Pre- and Post-conference Workshops—ten in all—will take fullest advantage of being in the nation’s capital. Note that all these workshops require advance registration, generally with a fee. Prepare for the meetings on Saturday, August 4, 2018, with pre-conferences that:  

  • Visit local breweries, 
  • Identify ways for 1890 and 1862 universities to collaborate, and
  • Use the FoodAPS data for policy research.

After the meetings, starting Wednesday, August 8, 2018, dive deeper to: 

  • Communicate economic research to the media, 
  • Tour Maryland vegetable, grain, and oyster farms, 
  • Capitalize on Federal data for economic analysis,
  • Research fresh produce mechanization, trade, and food safety,
  • Understand animal health and biosecurity economics,
  • Explore career avenues in Federal agencies and Congress, and
  • Meet with NIFA project directors. 

The Awards and Fellows Recognition Ceremony will give an opportunity to celebrate excellence in our professional community. This year’s Fellows embody the disciplinary and topical breadth that are the hallmarks of applied economists. They include John Beghin, Marcel Fafchamps, Thom Jayne, Jill McCluskey, and George Norton.

Need a song to help you get ready to join us in the place where policy is made? In the Room Where it Happens.

Other AAEA activities 

USDA economic research appropriations. Following my March column about threats to USDA-based economic research, the AAEA spearheaded a letter to the House and Senate agricultural appropriations subcommittees. The letter described the benefits of USDA economic research, and it appealed to maintain Fiscal Year 2018 funding levels, specifically for such research at the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). It was truly heartening to see the community of agricultural and applied economists stand up to be counted. Fifty co-signatories joined the AAEA, including professional associations, academic departments and colleges, and/or their leaders. Check out the AAEA Government Relations Update to see the letter and other recent activities. My thanks to the Government Relations Committee and staff for thoughtful guidance in this process.

Applied Economics Teaching Resources (AETR).  The AAEA Board will soon begin review of applications for Inaugural Editor of AETR.  Stay tuned.

AAEA Communications Manager. Allison Scheetz has been promoted to AAEA Senior Communications Manager and is now the contact person for media inquiries, content for AAEAs website, The Exchange, and social media.  Assisted by Sinais Alvarado, who continues to look after Choices Magazine, and Members in the News.

Keeping our meetings safe and accessible.  This summer the AAEA Board will be considering proposals for policies to protect members from harassment and to facilitate child care during professional meetings. The Board will also review new mentorship programs.  Stay tuned, and please let me know if you have thoughts to share with the Board. 

 Scott Swinton
AAEA President