January 24, 2018  

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USM Grant Fosters Collaboration between Agriculture Economists, Political Scientists

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Dr. Joseph Weinberg, assistant professor of political science at The University of Southern Mississippi, says that a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will help foster better communication and more collaborative research between agricultural economists and political scientists.

Under Weinberg’s leadership, experts from both of those disciplines have been brought together to form the Agriculture Research Policy Group. He notes that it became apparent that such an exchange was necessary in order to improve scholarly research on agriculture policy and any subsequent policy recommendations.

“For two disciplines working on (ostensibly) the same issues, there is very little communication between and among scholars,” he said. “Not surprisingly, U.S. and international agriculture policies are both inefficient and notoriously difficult to alter.”

The one-year grant provided funding for an Agriculture Policy Research Conference held Oct. 13-15 in New Orleans. The conference attracted more than 20 participants from nations across the globe, including Australia, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Canada.

The conference enabled attendees to share viewpoints, generate new collaborative research, and improve the scholarly contributions to U.S. agricultural policy.

Weinberg notes that international trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and domestic legislation such as the omnibus “Farm Bill” have a tremendous, though not always clear, impact on all U.S. agricultural stakeholders.

“Policy makers can benefit from academic research in these areas, but only if the economic and political realities of policy change are adequately addressed,” he said. “By bringing together scholars with similar research agendas, we hope to improve the research output of both disciplines on matters of import to U.S. agriculture interests at home and abroad.”