Professor Ariel Ortiz-Bobea will advise the USDA’s National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics Council

In October 2021, Professor Ariel Ortiz-Bobea, Applied Economics and Policy, was appointed to the National Advisory Council on Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics for the United States Department of Agriculture. Ortiz-Bobea will represent Cornell as well as the 1,862 other land-grant universities nationwide.

The NAREEE Advisory Board provides advice on food research priorities and policies to the Secretary of Agriculture and to land-grant colleges and universities. As a board member, Ortiz-Bobea will use the insights gained from her research to help the board make a variety of relevant advisory decisions, from emissions to forest protection.

At the University, Ortiz-Bobea conducts research that examines how people and organizations deal with the dynamic environment.

“Adapting to a changing environment involves trade-offs that are at the heart of economics,” Ortiz-Bobea said. “[M]y research focuses on quantifying the impacts of climate change and determining if we see evidence that people in the economy are adapting to the changes taking place.

Ortiz-Bobea’s research allows him to advise the board on related issues such as environmental additionality, which assesses whether a project generates “additional” emissions reductions with government incentive or not.

“Ensuring that the US agricultural sector is actually contributing to reducing emissions is the idea of ​​additionality,” Ortiz-Bobea said.

For example, the government may pay a farmer to change their farming practices and reduce emissions, but if the farmer changes their practices without compensation, then government payments would not actually reduce emissions. As a result, government payments to farmers do not translate into a direct environmental service in which emissions can be reduced.

Ortiz-Bobea will also focus on additionality in forest protection. While paying people to protect forests might sound like a good thing, in practice it’s not very effective, Ortiz-Bobea said.

As with agricultural practices, people can choose to protect forests without payment. As a result, any exchange of funds has minimal effects on forest conservation and carbon sequestration.

Ortiz-Bobea will now advise on these matters as an appointed member of the NAREEE Board of Directors.

“My ultimate hope is to provide honest, timely and helpful advice to [NAREEE]. I committed to it,” Ortiz-Bobea said. “[We have] the potential to influence the course of government action on issues that [will] have long-term consequences for the US agricultural sector.

Lana T. Arthur