Director of the Global Food Studies Program and Professor in Agricultural and Food Economics Wendy J. Umberger officially becomes President of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES) on 4 February 2016 at the 2016 AARES Annual Meeting in Canberra.
Professor Umberger is an accomplished agricultural economist specialising in food policy, consumer food and diet behavior and decisions, food security and various aspects related to food systems. She is currently leading components of interdisciplinary value chain research projects in Asia, Australia, North America, the Pacific Islands and South Africa exploring opportunities for agricultural smallholder households in producing high value (horticulture, dairy, beef) food products and adopting new technology to gain access to modern food value chains.
Part of this work includes estimating consumer demand for specific credence (quality, safety and health) attributes in food and determining efficient governance systems to verify related attributes. She is also studying the impact of urbanisation, modern retail transformation and development programs on food consumption patterns, diet quality and longer-run health and livelihood implications in Indonesia and Fiji.
Professor Umberger has published extensively and has been invited to present her work internationally to a variety of audiences including industry, government and academic.
The AARES is an independent association of persons and organisations interested in agricultural, resource and environmental economics. Previously named as the Australian Agricultural Economics Society, the Society was founded at a conference convened in Sydney in February 1957 (Source: AARES). Given growing concerns over food security and resource management across the globe, the AARES is well-positioned in research and policy communities to contribute to addressing problems related to issues in agriculture not only in Australia as well as in the rest of the world. The Society has close links with some of the leading agricultural researchers in the country and has now been increasingly involved in the capacity building of young agricultural and resource economists.
In our interview with Professor Umberger, she explained that her priority is to ensure that the Strategic Planning work is completed and that we are able to begin implementation of a Strategic Plan in 2017.
She is also keen to consult and work with current members to ensure that their needs are met, and to explore opportunities for new strategic partnerships in order to grow AARES membership base.
We congratulate Professor Wendy Umberger on her significant achievement and we wish her the very best of luck and we also congratulate outgoing President Professor Ross Cullen for his successful leadership!