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AES Newsletter


July 2022

 Letter from the President

UK Government Food Strategy – difficult choices ahead!

The wider consequences of the war in Ukraine are unfortunately becoming increasingly apparent, with an unfolding food crisis that threatens to be the most severe in living memory. In my first Letter I noted how the war adds to already formidable challenges: designing a post-Brexit agricultural and associated trade policy; pivoting from short term Covid responses to longer term investments in sectoral resilience; and ensuring meaningful contributions to the net zero GHG emissions target.

Against this backdrop Defra has published a food strategy for England, but alignment across the UK will be essential. The food strategy identifies several channels of effort. On production, there is a welcome emphasis on productivity and innovation, with recognition of the potential offered by new plant breeding techniques. On consumption, a promising proposal is to use Randomized Control Trials to discern effective ways of encouraging healthier and more sustainable diets. The commitment to improved transparency along the food chain holds the potential to identify and counteract market failures. The challenges will now lie in design and implementation. When a member of the EU, the UK was a strong advocate for improving sectoral prosperity and environmental sustainability in an essentially liberal trading environment – a position that differentiated it from some other EU members. The food strategy reaffirms a commitment to increasing export opportunities and consumer choice through imports, without compromising regulatory standards for food. Nevertheless, this is the first time I recall seeing explicit commitments to maintaining production and meeting self-sufficiency targets. The government is also committed to local procurement in taxpayer funded food and catering. Latest OECD data show that UK producers receive a higher share of their incomes from consumers and taxpayers than the EU average (23% vs 18%), while UK farm prices are on average 13% higher than on world markets, compared with 3% in the EU. So as the food strategy translates into actions, the UK’s commitment to open markets is likely to be tested. The AES will have much to contribute to analysing these issues and proposing coherent solutions!

Jonathan Brooks AES President 2022-23 (jonathan.brooks@oecd.org)

 REF 2021 Results Released   

Results from the UK’s latest research assessment exercise, The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 were completed in May 2022 following an evaluation of research conducted during 2014-2020 from 76,132 academic staff in 157 universities. The results, which provide a summary of the academic quality and societal significance of research undertaken in British universities, judged 41% of the submissions to be ‘world leading’ (4*), 43% ‘internationally excellent’ (3*),14% ‘recognised internationally’ (2*) and 2% ‘recognised nationally’ (1*). These figures, which represent an improvement on REF 2014, reinforce the UK’s position in research globally across a broad set of disciplines.

Assessment was undertaken by 34 subject-based panels comprising academic experts from the UK and worldwide, and external users of research from a range of areas including government, industry, and voluntary sectors. We (Tim Lloyd, Bournemouth, and Euan Phimister, Aberdeen and Stellenbosch) were nominated by the AES and subsequently appointed to the Economics and Econometrics and the Agriculture, Food and Veterinary sub-panels, respectively. We also assisted in the evaluation of work cross-referred from other panels such as Business and Management.

In addition to the assessment of research quality, the expert panels evaluated the social, economic, and cultural benefits of research via impact case studies and the sustainability of the environment in which the research was conducted. In all, the panels assessed over 185,000 individual pieces of research in terms of their originality, significance, and rigour, in addition to 6,781 impact case studies and 1,878 research environment statements.

Results from the REF are used by UK higher education funding bodies to inform the allocation of around £2 billion of research funding annually, as well as for benchmarking and reputational assessment. The REF is also useful in identifying institutional strengths, trends within disciplines and informs research strategy at both institutional and national levels. Summary reports and results by subject area and university are accessible at https://ref.ac.uk/. Future assessment of UK higher education research performance and the REF is currently being considered within the Future Research Assessment Programme, led by the four UK funding bodies (https://future-research-assessment-programme-frap/).

Tim Lloyd (tlloyd@bournemouth.ac.uk)
Euan Phimister (e.phimister@abdn.ac.uk)

  Journal of Agricultural Economics maintains strong Impact Factor 

The JAE 2021 Impact Factor is 4.163, up from the 2020 score of 3.58. The full report of the 2021 Journal Impact Factors (JIF) contains much more information about the JAE performance, and its comparison with our peers. The calculation of the JIF changed in 2020, to include early access papers according to their release data, rather than only including papers according to their published date. Hence, from 2020 the JIF is NOT directly comparable with previous years.

The massive increase in the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics JIF for 2021 (a tenfold rise on 2020) reflects its special issue on Covid effects. Otherwise, our peers are generally showing similar improvements to the JAE, though the ERAE has improved its rank, while the AJAE has slipped a little. Interestingly, the China Agricultural Economic Review (not shown above) has now climbed the ranks considerably and has a 2021 score of 4.265.

David Harvey, Chief Editor (david.harvey@newcastle.ac.uk)  

 Other conferences and EAAE events  


New Zealand NZARES Annual Conference 1-2 September 2022, Nelson on Better Resilience, Sustainability and Production: Interdisciplinary, International, and Inclusive. The pre-conference field trip on Wednesday 30th of August will feature a vineyard and research winery tour. (http://www.nzares.org.nz/)

The AES supported 11 participants to attend 9th EAAE PhD Workshop 22-24 June 2022, at the Department of Economic and Managerial Science, Parma, Italy. with travel bursaries (of £300). Each of the 11 are requested to send a short report (and hopefully photos!) 

EAAE Congress, Rennes, 29 August to 1 September 2023 on the theme of Agri-food systems in a changing world: Connecting science and society.

Further details of the Congress and upcoming seminars can be found at here

Tim Lloyd EAAE and IAAE Liaison Officer

 News of Members  


Congratulations to Professor Janet Dwyer (University of Gloucestershire) on being awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday Honours. Janet is a long-time member of the Society and was President in 2021-22. She is also a former director of the Countryside and Community Research Institute and co-director of the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise. The award is for ‘services to Rural Research’. Janet’s 2021 presidential address to the Society can be found at here.

It is with deep regret that the Society has learned of the death of University of East Anglia Professor Emeritus of Development Studies Deryke Belshaw, aged 89. He was AES President in 2002-03. An appreciation of his life and work can be read at (https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/obituaries/obituary-professor-emeritus-deryke-belshaw-norwich-uea-89-8954008) 

 Summer reading from the OECD  


The annual OECD agricultural flagship publications, Monitoring and Evaluation https://www.oecd.org/agriculture/topics/agricultural-policy-monitoring-and-evaluation/ and OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2022-31 https://www.agri-outlook.org/ have been released and are free to read online. Increased productivity and sustainability of agriculture are core policy objectives in OECD and partner countries. However, as highlighted in these reports, agricultural productivity will need to increase at triple the rate recorded during the last decade to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals to reach zero hunger and meet the Paris Agreement reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. However, only 13% of the $US817 billions of current government support is targeted to investment to underpin a more productive, sustainable, and resilient food system.   

The Newsletter is also circulated with the JAE. The deadline for items for the next issue is 24th October 2022, to wilfrid_legg@hotmail.com 

AES Annual Conference 27-29 March 2023
University of Warwick, UK...more

EIT food
EIT Food is calling for proposals for a feasibility study ...more

Defra/AES One-Day Conference
Barriers to productivity (agricultural and farm business) in the UK. ...more

Agricultural Specialist - USDA, U.S. Embassy
London, UK...more