Spring 2019

January 8
Filley Hall 210

Geoffrey Cockfield

University of Southern Queensland

Examining differences in Australian and US agricultural policy: Advocacy, institutions and instruments

Abstract Australia and the US are both developed, anglophone, Euro-colonial nations with similar agricultural production systems and some common export commodities. Both countries have cultural and political narratives about the importance of agriculture and rural communities, both were influenced by the resurgent market ideology of the 1980s and participate in WTO and a range of bi-lateral agreements. Australia is also relatively exposed to US cultural and political trends and ideas. Despite these commonalities and the potential for policy transfer, the agricultural policies of the two countries are notably different. In particular, Australia has drastically reduced effective support to farmers with almost no on-going agricultural programs, in contrast to the extensive programs in the US.

February 22 
Filley Hall 47

Marc Bellemare

University of Minnesota

Producer Attitudes toward Output Price Risk: Experimental Evidence from the Lab and from the Field

AbstractIn a seminal article, Sandmo (1971) showed that when faced with a risky output price, a risk-averse producer would in theory hedge against price risk by producing less than she would if she instead had been faced with a certain price equal to the mean of the risky price distribution. A number of agricultural and food policy instruments (e.g., administrative pricing, buffer stocks, marketing boards, and variable tariffs) as well as a substantial amount of research contributions are predicated on the idea that producers dislike output price volatility. We test Sandmo’s prediction experimentally, both in the lab with US college students and in the field with Peruvian farmers. We find no support for Sandmo’s prediction, either in the whole sample or in the restricted sample of risk-averse subjects. Moreover, we find that our subjects increase their production in response to price risk at the extensive margin but decrease it in response to price risk at the intensive margin. Looking at alternative explanations for our subjects’ behavior, we find no support for the safety-first decision criterion or for the hypothesis that our subjects maximize expected profit rather than expected utility, but we find suggestive evidence in support of prospect theory.

March 29 
Filley Hall 210

Jesse Tack

Kansas State University

Using Cross-country Data to Estimate the Yield Impact of Genetically Engineered Corn

AbstractAgriculture has historically experienced one of the highest rates of productivity growth in the U.S. economy, but recent evidence suggests this growth is beginning to slow. The growth decline has coincided with concerns about food price spikes, social instability, increases in food insecurity, growing world population, drought, and climate change. This confluence of problems has prompted interest in determining whether certain technologies can promote gains in crop yields, and none has been more controversial than biotechnology. Many previous studies have investigated whether adoption of genetically engineered (GE) crops has increased yield, and the consensus from the micro-level data and experimental studies is that adoption of GE crops are associated with higher yield. However, ample skepticism remains, with high profile popular publications purporting that GE crops have failed to live up to their promise of yield increases. Here we combine U.S. and French corn yield data spanning 1980-2015 to estimate yield gains associated with GE adoption. This is an especially relevant comparison given the similarity of growing conditions in both countries coupled with the fact that GE corn has not been adopted in France due to regulatory restrictions, which provides an exogenous source of variation that can be exploited using quasi-experimental methods. We consider several possible identification approaches including (i) using only U.S. data in a fixed-effects regression framework; (ii) adding French data as a natural control in the same fixed effects framework; and (iii) utilizing propensity score methods to determine the “best matching” treatment and control groups across countries. Results suggest a yield gain of approximately 17-22 bu/acre depending upon the approach. Ongoing work is seeking to better understand whether these gains are heterogeneous across locations and the drivers thereof.

April 5
East Campus Union

Jayson Lusk

Purdue University

Consumer Trends and Impacts on Agricultural Productivity and the Future Food System

Lusk is the author of Unnaturally Delicious: How Science and Technology are Serving up Super Foods to Save the World and The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate. He is a frequent commentator on food and food policy and has been called one of the most prolific food and agricultural economists of the past two decades. Lusk has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics and a B.S. in food technology from Kansas State University. His a fellow and past president of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. His more than 200 journal articles are among the most cited agricultural economics research. He blogs about food and agricultural policy at his website jaysonlusk.com/

April 26
Filley Hall 210

Antoine Champetier

Visiting lecturer at the University of California, Davis and visiting researcher at ETH Zurich

Economics of the supply functions for pollination and honey: Marginal costs and supply elasticity

Abstract: We report new data and estimates of beekeeper costs and revenues, which include data on each activity undertaken by honey producers and pollinators, including labor, transport costs and materials for pest and disease management. We use these data, recent surveys and USDA NASS information to develop and characterize supply functions for (1) pollination services to crops that bloom in the late winter (dominated by almonds) and (2) pollination services to crops that bloom in the spring, and (3) U.S.-produced honey. The positions and shapes of these supply functions are crucial to understanding how the honeybee industry will respond to changes in demand for pollination services, and other market conditions, including shifts in honey import supply, and forage availability affected by climate change.

June 7
Filley Hall 210

Keith Coble

Mississippi State University

Past Seminars