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President's Column

Happy 2019! This is the beginning of the year, a time for hope and new beginnings. I hope that 2019 will be calmer and better than 2018. AAEA had very good Invited Paper sessions at ASSA in Atlanta. I always enjoy the calming city and look forward to our summer meeting in warmer and friendlier weather.

I am also looking forward to the award ceremony, and in particular to the inauguration of the new Fellows. I’d like to congratulate our forthcoming Fellows, Mary Bohman from USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, who led and fought to maintain the high standards of ERS during a tough period; Kevin Boyle from Virginia Tech, a creative innovator of macro and applied work on market evaluation; Matin Qaim from the University of Goettingen, and one of the best Agricultural Economists in Europe, and has research which has opened up many new frontiers; Ian Sheldon from The Ohio State University, who is a leading scholar of important agricultural international trade issues; and Wallace Tyner from Purdue University, who laid the foundation that was a pioneer and continues to lead research on energy and agriculture. 

AAEA Reunions and Receptions are another fabulous feature of the summer Annual Meeting. The Association is foremost based on joint professional interest and loyal friends. The Reunions and Receptions help to celebrate us as individuals and members of great institutions. The food, drinks, and fun help inspire new ideas and create new professional bonds that make AAEA stronger. The Annual Meeting also features stimulating talks that enrich and inspire us. I really enjoyed the excellent T.W. Schultz Memorial Lecture by Raj Chetty at ASSA, and look forward to the Galbraith Forum by David Card, the Presidential Address by Keith Coble, and the Fellows address. We encourage you to submit an abstract on the online submission system, and send nominations for the 2019 AAEA Awards and participate in the 2019 AAEA Annual Meeting as a presenter and/or attendee.

In recent years we have emphasized mentoring activities and I believe that it is working. This year we are offering a day and a half Post-conference Workshop focused on Early Career Professionals, as well as seven other Pre- and Post-conference events – stay tuned for more information on Annual Meeting events. I frequently use the summer meeting as an anchor for a vacation and I hope that several of you will take advantage as well. Check out my YouTube Invitation to the 2019 AAEA Annual Meeting for all the opportunities the city offers.

New this year, the Board has been working on an “Anti-Harassment and Code of Conduct Policy.” The AAEA Operating Policies do not currently touch upon harassment, sexual or otherwise, even though the AAEA meetings constitute a setting where sexual harassment or other unwelcome advances could potentially occur. We aim to further provide a natural forum for professional relationships between members with varied professional experiences. Please view it at your earliest convenience.

As President I have to address some of the day-to-day challenges. We are meeting with the Secretary of Agriculture, interacting with other groups, and our main message for Agricultural Economic Research is vital and should be supported (please see the Resources on USDA Economic Research Service page). Decisions suffer because of lack of research and access to research. Therefore, we will be happy to work with government and other organizations to improve the way that research is communicated and utilized. Support for high quality research must continue. Relocation and reorganizations that may harm our capacity should be analyzed thoughtfully. It is important to communicate the need to avoid irreversible bad decisions, and take the time to think before acting in an impulsive manner.

While all of us enjoy many of the benefits of the information evolution, it may pose a threat to the long-term viability of the Association. Our journals are major sources of income for the AAEA and open access may reduce the amount that we get from the publishers. I’m sure that we will survive, but we need to think about alternative sources of support. Building the AAEA Trust is one avenue and is the reason that I have been putting in some effort to establishing new Appreciation Clubs. Every year we will be able to establish new Appreciation Clubs that will recognize some of our intellectual and organizational leaders to provide resources that would allow us great flexibility. Our initiatives to establish new Appreciation Clubs have gotten excellent reception and we are thankful. We will also work this winter to think about more systematic fundraising strategies that will seek to obtain sponsorships from some of our events and some of our initiatives, and I hope that will help us be more sustainable in the long run.

But true sustainability of an academic association is achieved only when the Association adapts to change and members changing their research agenda to respond to the needs of the time. We have made a big leap from farm economics to agricultural economics to agricultural and applied economics. Now we cover a wide range of topics agricultural management and policy, development, the economics of natural resources, the environment and energy, consumer choices of food and health, agrobusiness, international trade, and entrepreneurship. All of these topics are interlinked and they provide real world and methodological insights. Our existing journals are adapting with reality. I hope within the next year we will take advantage of publishing and produce one more journal that will augment our existing offering. Some good options for new journal topics could include economics of food systems and policies, or sustainable food systems. The two areas of food systems and agribusiness, and the nexxus of agriculture, energy and the environment can benefit from more publications. Such publications should have a national, as well as international perspective, and mainly to be more diverse and may be accessible to other disciplines. I hope these ideas will open a dialogue that will make us better and grow as an association.