Call for Papers
Agricultural Markets and Trade Policy
Washington, DC
April 30 - May 1, 2020

To promote research on economic issues that involve trade and the agricultural sector, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), with the support of the Economic Research Service at USDA, will convene a research conference on “Agricultural Markets and Trade Policy.” The conference, which will be organized by Dave Donaldson of MIT and the NBER, will be held in Washington, D.C., on April 30 and May 1, 2020. New empirical and theoretical research on the role of both intra- and international trade in agricultural markets, the links between trade policy and pricing and production decisions in the agricultural sector, and the role of agriculture in current trade flows, is welcome.

Authors are invited to submit research papers on topics that include, but are not limited to:

• The international political economy of agricultural trade. How has the recent “trade war” between major economies affected agricultural producers and consumers in the U.S. and elsewhere? How might the long-run consequences of these developments differ from their short-run? How have retaliatory tariff actions been targeted, and what have been the effects of such actions, particularly in the agricultural sector?

• Agricultural policy analysis in an open economy. How do domestic agricultural policies, such as price-based policies, land-use policies, and policies that are designed to promote technological change, affect border prices? How do these effects differ across activities and market sizes? How does domestic market integration change these border price elasticities? How strongly do foreign policy changes in one country affect prices and hence consumer and producer welfare in other countries?

• Trade, volatility and uncertainty. How does market integration change the price and income volatility that agricultural consumers and producers face? What are the reactions to such volatility and uncertainty? How do shocks spread or dissipate over space? How quickly can domestic and trade policy respond to insulate the effects of these shocks? How does volatility and uncertainty affect the dynamics of agricultural land use, especially in the presence of large sunk costs?

• Trade and agricultural sector adaptation to climate change. How does the ability to import and export affect a region’s exposure to the changing agricultural conditions that follow from a changing climate? How will other forms of factor mobility, such as migration and capital movements, and accumulation interact with inter-regional and international trade? How do the predictions of micro-level impacts of climate change on individual crops aggregate up into damage functions at more macro levels?

• Estimating and testing models of trade in the agricultural sector. Does the relatively simple product space and market structure of the agricultural sector afford new opportunities for learning about the fundamental drivers of trade and specialization and the scope for gains from trade? How useful is scientific knowledge of agricultural production possibilities for this purpose? Can remote sensing (e.g. satellite) data on land use also be leveraged?

• Structural change in an open economy. How do the patterns of structural change across broad sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and services differ across relatively open and closed regions? Do the demand- and supply-side forces behind such structural change interact differently with the extent of trade and factor market openness?

• Export-based agriculture in low-income countries. What are the barriers to growth of agricultural exporters in developing countries? In particular, what role do trade costs, regulatory compliance, production of appropriate quality, and collective reputations play? What policies can reduce these barriers and what impacts can such reductions have? How much market power do producers enjoy, or how much do the agents they sell to enjoy?

Proposals for both theoretical and empirical papers on these and other related topics are welcome. Proposals from scholars who are early in their careers, with and without NBER affiliations, and from researchers from under-represented groups are especially welcome. To be considered for inclusion on the program, papers must be uploaded by January 13, 2020 to:

Authors chosen to present papers at the conference will be notified in early February, 2020. Please do not submit papers that will have been published by the conference date. Papers that are presented at the conference, and that have not yet been accepted for publication, may be included after the meeting in the NBER working paper series.

The NBER will cover the cost of domestic travel and hotel expenses for up to two authors per paper and for discussants at the conference. Additional co-authors, and other participants, are welcome to attend the conference. Authors of papers that are included on the program will receive a modest honorarium. Questions about this conference may be addressed to

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