A group of five GFAR staff and PhD students (Prof. Wendy Umberger, Dr Daniel Gregg, Dr Sharmina Ahmed, Rio L. Maligalig and Jesmin Ara Rupa) participated in this year’s Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting in Chicago, held July 30 – Aug 1. The meeting was an excellent opportunity to learn from outstanding speakers and from each other.
This year, more than 400 papers were presented as part of Invited Paper and Selected Paper sessions, along with 84 Organized Symposia and Track Sessions and 300 posters.
The meeting officially started on the Sunday night with Charles Plott, from California Institute of Technology, giving the keynote address on “The Application of Laboratory Experimental Methods to Complex Policy Issues”.
The other significant talks happened on Monday morning – Scott Swinton’s (Michigan State University) presidential address on “Why Should I Believe Your Applied Economics?” – and Tuesday morning – Julian Alston’s (University of California) Fellow’s address on “Reflections on Agriculture R&D, Productivity, and the Data Constraint: Unfinished Business, Unsettled Issues”.
Monday (31st July) was a very busy day for GFAR staff and students. In the afternoon Prof. Wendy Umberger moderated a Lightning Session titled “Food Safety and Nutrition”. The six brief presentations in this session examined how different product and consumer attributes impact food purchase decisions. Product characteristics such as labels and other information provision and food safety issues can influence purchases. Consumer attributes including quality and sensory perceptions, decision-framing and attribute attendance may also affect the likelihood of purchasing specific products. These papers shed light on how these different characteristics matter to product selection- information useful to producers/retailers and policy makers. The session was packed, with many eager listeners having to stand!
Prof. Wendy Umberger also presented a paper in this session, titled “To Market, to Market: Does Smallholder Vegetable Production Lead to Increased Diet Diversity and Improved Diet Quality? Empirical Evidence from Northwest Vietnam”. This paper is one of Christian A. Genova’s PhD papers co-authored with Wendy Umberger, Alexandra Peralta and Suzie Newman.
Later in the afternoon there was an Organized Symposium of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES) titled “Social Change, Resource Depletion and Ecosystem Services in Asia and the Pacific”. The session was focused on rapid change in the economic environment in increasingly urban and affluent Asia exerting uneven pressures on natural resources and ecosystem service supply.
The papers in this session reported on international research using new methods to examine the causes and consequences of these changes, drawing examples from forests and farming systems in Asia and the Pacific. A discussion of the methodological challenges posed by these changes in this context was part of the conversation. The Moderator of this session was Francis G. Scrimgeour, University of Waikato, and Discussant was Prof. Wendy Umberger. Also in this session, Dr Daniel Gregg presented recent research on information demand based on field experiments carried out in Laos with colleagues from Monash University.
To be continued…