It was wonderful to see so many of you in person in Austin after such a long time and to have a sense of cautious normalcy. I am grateful for this opportunity to step into the role of President of AAEA and to lead efforts to continue the progress we are making in achieving the strategic vision that we recently finalized. The strategic vision covers the following five areas:
- Culture of Engagement
- Mentoring Programs
- Communicating through Media Relations & Government Relations
- Financial Viability
- External Relationships
It has been energizing to see the enthusiasm from so many members who are willing to serve and dedicate time by taking on new committee and leadership roles to serve AAEA’s mission. Despite the challenging times in 2020 and continuing into 2021, our membership continue to remain high with over 2500 members at present. Registration numbers for our annual meeting were strong with over 1300 attendees, of which almost half attended in person.
- We had very active presentation participation throughout with almost 100 selected paper presentations and over 200 posters (in-person and virtual).
- In addition to recorded presentations we offered 26 hours of live plenary sessions, we had 2,619 members join (or watch) these sessions virtually.
The last two meetings have been a learning experience as we have adapted from an all in-person meeting to a virtual and then a hybrid meeting format. Initial reactions indicate that the hybrid sessions worked well for most part and I would welcome your feedback to continue to improve the experience in the future as we decide on the appropriate format for next year’s meetings. A survey on this has been sent out and we would appreciate hearing about your experience.
In my Presidential address I talked about the value of working with other disciplines to increase our creativity and the impact of our scholarship. The session can be viewed through the AAEA app. I hope these ideas will stimulate conversations that will make us be even more impactful and relevant as a profession and enable AAEA to play a pivotal role in facilitating this.
Some of the initiatives that the Board and I have proposed will provide opportunities for greater engagement with other professional associations and for mentoring in pursuing interdisciplinary research opportunities effectively. Thank you to many individuals who came forward and expressed their support for this and interest in being involved in this effort. I will provide more information on this in my next column.
We kicked off the Annual Meeting in Austin with the Gordon Rausser Keynote and Panel Discussion by bringing Jim Jones, University of Florida, Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists, Cathy Kling, Cornell University and John Antle, Oregon State University to share their perspectives on the approaches for “Accelerating Transformation Towards a Sustainable and Circular Food System.” Find the on-demand recording of the session on the AAEA app.
Continuing the effort to engage different disciplines in advancing work in this area, the National Academy of Engineering is organizing an online FOCUS program entitled: “Complex Food and Agricultural Systems: Engineering for Sustainability and Resilience” on Sept. 9, 2021. This forum will review the challenges of existing systems and the need to transform the current mostly linear food and agriculture into circular and resilient systems. A link to the agenda and free registration is available at https://www.nae.edu/259414/Forum-on-Complex-Unifiable-Systems-FOCUSs-Virtual-Forum-on-Complex-Food-and-Agricultural-Systems-Engineering-for-Sustainability-and-Resilience.
Gita Gopinath, Chief Economist at IMF was the recipient of the Galbraith award this year and shared her work on “Dominant Currency Paradigms” and the implications of dominant currencies for the effects of trade policy on international trade patterns and domestic prices. The recording of this session has been loaded into the mobile app.
Jill McCluskey’s Fellows Address on “Nutrition Access, Income and Race” presented thoughtful insights on the complex challenge of promoting healthful diets, differences in access to retail food by income and race and the need for policies to increase access to healthy food. View her presentation on the AAEA mobile app.
Congratulations to David Just and Helen Jensen on the formation of an appreciation club in each of their names. We appreciate the generosity of our members contributing to this and other appreciation clubs in the AAEA. We are also thankful to Uma Lele for her gift of $100,000 for Uma Lele Mentor Fellowship Award for Women that will provide mentoring for women agricultural economists from low income and lower-middle income countries. Of this, $50,000 will be used as matching funds to raise additional funds for supporting this mentoring program. Please consider gifting to this program. Your gift of a $1000 or more will be matched 1:2 from this fund so that we can raise another $100,000. Please send your contributions online or using the pdf AAEA Trust form.