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Alfons Weersink

Phone: (519) 824-4120 Ext. 52766
Office: J.D. MacLachlan Building, Room 222, Guelph Campus


Agri-environmental Policy; Farm Structure; Production Economics;


Alfons Weersink was raised on a cash crop/dairy farm near St. Mary's, Ontario. He is married to Maureen and they have 4 kids, Erin, Kristen, Marc and Bryan.

Alfons' research focuses on the effect of technology and government policy on the decisions made by farmers and the resulting effect on agri-food markets and structure.



Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Honours), University of Guelph , 1982.
Master of Science in Applied Economics, Montana State University , 1984.
Doctorate Cornell University , January 1989


Research Impact

As an agricultural economist, much of Alfons’ work is applied and results in tangible outcomes. For example, he often analyzes the feasibility of a new technology such as biomass crops, methane digesters and bioproduct plastics, to determine whether it is a valuable innovation and under what conditions it is most beneficial. He also looks at the cost-effectiveness of farm level practices, such as herd health management strategies to deal with diseases. Much of his work is summative and informs government, policy makers and producer organizations of the expected impacts of a particular proposed policy or practice. Alfons’ research is often interdisciplinary and extends across all species of livestock animals and crops, allowing his work to easily transition to newly developing areas of concern in agriculture.

Current Research

What are the economic impacts of new technology and government policy on agricultural structure?

Alfons’ research in this area looks at new technology, such as bioproducts and big data, and strives to determine what their impact might be on agricultural and environmental policy and, ultimately, on individual farmers. His study of government policy initially looked at income support programs for farmers. Over time, his focus has shifted toward agri-environmental policy; for example, how policy can be used to reduce the rate of transfer of agricultural phosphates to the Great Lakes. Ultimately, his primary objective is to understand what these technologies and policies mean for individual farmers and how they impact the market.

Alfons’ current projects in this area look at a variety of topics. One project looks at trade-offs in the Ontario dairy industry between technical efficiency (rate of milk production) and environmental efficiency (levels of greenhouse gas emissions produced per unit of milk). He then uses this information to develop cost-effective means of reducing greenhouse gases. Another project looks at the cost-effectiveness of treatment strategies for Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED), a swine disease that has major impacts on production and herd health. Other projects look at issues such as land rental rates and land values, and the factors that drive rental rates and the relationships between farmers and landlords. In all cases he works to extend his analysis from the farm level to determining treatment strategies at the aggregate regional level.

Graduate Student Information

Graduate students are intricately involved in Alfons’ research initiatives. He looks for students who have a shared interest and enthusiasm for a project that resonates with them. In the initial stages, he provides his students the independence to determine how to proceed with their project, while also helping them to understand the questions that must be answered by its conclusion. He expects his students to take initiative in reading the literature, formulating ideas and talking to the people involved with the project’s core problem, such as farmers and others working in the industry. He meets with his students on a weekly basis to regroup, check on progress, and discuss and resolve problems. Students consistently receive feedback to ensure their project stays on track and that the final product is completed with a certain amount of depth and rigour.

Past graduate students have worked on a variety of projects, such as: developing new methods of calculating the farmer’s share of the food dollar; looking at ways to increase the cost-effectiveness of alternative policies to reduce nitrate emissions from potato farms in Prince Edward Island; determining the extent of variation required in field fertility to justify variable rate technology; and analysis of factors that affect the local corn price, particularly in terms of the effect of ethanol production.

Many of Alfons’ graduate students go on to work as agricultural economists in government at the federal or provincial level, or work as economic policy analysts for producer organizations. Others have gone into private industry within the input supply sector or lending institutions.

Teaching Interests:

FARE*3030 The Firm and Markets FARE*4240 Futures and Options FARE*4500 Decision Science

Select Publications:

Anderson, R. & Weersink, A. (2014). A Real Options Approach for the Investment Decisions of a Farm-Based Anaerobic Digester. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 62 (1), 69-87.
DeLaporte, A., Weersink, A., & McKenney, D. (2014). A Spatial Model of Climate Change Effects on Yields and Break-even Prices of Switchgrass and Miscanthus in Ontario, Canada. GCB Bioenergy, 6 (4), 394-400.
Levy, M., Dewey, C.E., Weersink, A., Poljak, Z., & Mutua, F.K. (2014). Comparing the Operations and Challenges of Pig Butchers in Rural and Peri-urban Settings of Western Kenya. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 9 (1), 125-136.
Weersink, A., McKenney, D., Allen, D., Yemshanov, D., & Boyland, M. (2014). Enhancing the Adoption of Short Rotation Woody Crops for Bioenergy Production. Biomass and Bioenergy, 64, 363-366.
Levy, M., Dewey, C.E., Weersink, A., Mutua, F.K., Carter, N., & Z. Poljak (2014). Evaluating Critical Factors to the Economic Feasibility of Semi-Intensive Pig Rearing in Western Kenya. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 46 (5), 797-808.
Uzea, N., Poon, K., Sparling, D., & Weersink, A. (in press, 2014). Farm Support Payments and Risk Balancing: Implications for Financial Riskiness of Canadian Farms. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 62.
Poon, K. & Weersink, A. (2014). Growing Forward with Agricultural Policy: Strengths and Weaknesses of Canada's Agricultural Data Sets. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 62 (2), 191-218.
Anderson, R., Hilborn, D., & Weersink, A. (2013). An Economic and Functional Tool for Assessing the Financial Feasibility of Farm-Based Anaerobic Digesters. Renewable Energy, 51, 85-92.
Kludze, H., Deen, B., Weersink, A., van Acker, R., Janovic, K., A. DeLaporte, I.McDonald (2013). Estimating Sustainable Crop Residue Removal Rates and Costs Based on Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Rotational Complexity . Biomass and Bioenergy, 56, 607-618.
Weersink, A., Kludze, H., Deen, B., van Acker, R., Janovic, K., A. DeLaporte, and I. McDonald (2013). Impact of Land Classification on Potential Agricultural Biomass Production in Ontario, Canada. Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 93 (2), 249-260.
Levy, M., Dewey, C.E., Weersink, A., Poljak, Z., & Mutua, F.K. (in press, 2013). Pig marketing and factors associated with prices and margins in Western Kenya. Journal of Agricultural Economics and Development, 2 (10), 371-383.

Skinner, S., A. Weersink, and C. deLange. 2012. "Impact of Dried Distillers Grains with Soluble (DDGS) on Ration and Fertilizer Costs of Swine Farmers." Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics. 60(2): . Huang, J., J. Yang, S. Msangi, S. Rozelle, and A. Weersink. 2012. "Biofuels and the Poor: Global Impact Pathways of Biofuels on Agricultural Markets." Food Policy. 37(4): 439-451. Huang, J., J. Yang, S. Msangi, S. Rozelle, and A. Weersink. 2012. “Global Biofuel Production and Poverty in China.” Applied Energy. 98(October): 246–255. Daly, Z., A. Melhim, and A. Weersink. 2012. “Characteristics of Honey Bee and Non-Apis Bee Farms in Canada.” Journal of Economic Entomology. 105 (4): 1130-1133. Poon, K., and A. Weersink. 2011. “Factors Affecting Variability in Farm and Off-farm Income.” Agricultural Finance Review. 71(3): 379-397. Cabas, J., and A. Weersink, and E. Olale. 2010. “Crop Yield Response to Economic, Site and Climatic Variables.” Climatic Change. 101(3): 599-616. DeLaporte, A., A. Weersink and W. Yang. 2010. “Ecological Goals and Wetland Preservation Choice.” Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics. 58(1):131-150. Dridi, C., W. Adamowicz, and A. Weersink. 2010. “Ranking of Research Output of Agricultural Economics Departments in Canada and Selected U.S. Universities.” Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics. 58(3):273-282. Meyer-Aurich, A., A. Weersink and M. Gandhoefer. 2010. “Optimal Site-Specific Fertilization and Harvesting Strategies with Respect to Crop Yield and Quality Response to Nitrogen.” Agricultural Systems. 103(7):478-485. Weersink, A., E. Olale and J. Cabas. 2010. “Acreage Response to Weather, Yield and Price..” Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics. 58(1):57-72. Alesia, A., A Weersink, R.D. Bolman and J. Cranfield. 2009. "Off-farm Labour Decisions of Canadian Farm Operators: Urbanization Effects and Rural Labour Market Linkages.” Journal of Rural Studies. 25(1): 12-24. Herath, Deepananda, and Alfons Weersink. 2009. “The Role of Transaction, Production, and Management Costs in the Vertical Coordination Changes of Post-Colonial Plantation Agriculture.” World Development. 37(11):1759-1772. Rajsic, P., A. Weersink and M. Gandhofer. 2009. “Risk and Nitrogen Application Levels.” Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics. 57(2): 223-240. To, J., A. Weersink, R. DeLoe. 2009. “Distributional Impacts of Water Allocation Policies for an Agricultural Watershed.” Canadian Water Resources Journal. 34(3):229-244. Cabas, J., A. Leiva and A. Weersink. 2008. “Modeling Exit and Entry of Farmers in a Crop Insurance Program” Agricultural and Resource Economics Reviews. 37(1):92-105.

Herath, Deepananda, and Alfons Weersink. 2008. “The Role of Transaction, Production, and Management Costs in the Vertical Coordination Changes of Post-Colonial Plantation Agriculture” World Development. forthcoming.

Jatoe, John, Emmanuel Yiridoe, Alfons Weersink, and J. Stephen Clark. 2008. “Economic and Environmental Impacts of Introducing Land Use Policies and Rotations on Prince Edward Island Potato Farms.” Land Use Policy. 25:309-319.

Pannell, D., G. Hailu, A. Weersink and A. Coad. 2008. “More Reasons Why Farmers Have So Little Interest in Futures Markets.” Agricultural Economics. 39(1):41-50.

Rajsic, P., and A. Weersink. 2008. “Do Farmers Waste Fertilizer?: A Comparison of Ex Post Optimal Nitrogen Rates and Ex Ante Recommended Rates by Model, Site and Year.” Agricultural Systems. 97(1-2):56-67

Rajsic, P., and A. Weersink. 2008. “Risk and Nitrogen Application Levels.” Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics. forthcoming.

Tiwari, A., J.A. VanLeeuwen, I.R. Dohoo, G.P. Keefe, and A. Weersink. 2008. “Estimate of the Direct Production Losses in Canadian Dairy Herds with Subclinical Mycobacterium Avium Subspecies Paratuberculosis Infection.” The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 49(6):569-76.

Banjaree, Anurag. Johan Swinnen, and Alfons Weersink. 2007. “Skating on Thin Ice: Rule Changes and Performance in the NHL” Canadian Journal of Economics 40(2): 493-514.

Herath, Deepananda, and Alfons Weersink. 2007. “Peasants and Plantations in the Sri Lankan Tea Sector: Causes of the Change in their Relative Viability.” Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 51(1): 73-89.

Jayasinghe-Mudalige, Udith, Alfons Weersink, Brady Deaton, and Mike Trant. 2007. “Effect of Urbanization on the Adoption of Environmental Management Systems in Canadian Agriculture.” International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology. 6(3):316-325.

Weersink, Alfons and Mark Raymond. 2007. “Environmental Regulations Impact on Agricultural Spills and Citizen Complaints.” Ecological Economics. 60(3): 654-660.

Young, Linda, Alfons Weersink, Murray Fulton, and Brady Deaton, 2007. “Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture: EU and US Perspectives.” EuroChoices. 6(1): 32-37, 04.

Esuola, Adeyemi G. and Alfons Weersink. 2006. “Carbon Banks: An Efficient Means to Address to Exchange Sequestered Carbon.” Journal of Environmental Quality. 35(4):1525-1532.

Meyer-Aurich, A., K. Janovicek, W. Deen, and A. Weersink. 2006. “Impact of Tillage and Rotation on Yield and Economic Performance in Corn-Based Cropping Systems” Agronomy Journal. 98(5):1204-1212.

Meyer-Aurich, A., A. Weersink, K. Janovicek, and W. Deen. 2006. “Cost-Efficient Rotation and Tillage Options to Sequester Carbon and Mitigate GHG Emissions from Agriculture in Eastern Canada.” Agriculture, Ecosystems and the Environment 117 (2-3):119-127

Turvey, Calum G., Alfons Weersink and Celia Chang. 2006. “Pricing Weather Insurance with a Random Strike Price: An Application to the Ontario Ice Wine Harvest.” American Jounral ofAgricultural Economics. 88(3):696-709.

Weersink, Alfons and Christine Eveland. 2006. “The Siting of Livestock Facilities and Environmental Regulations” Canadian Journal ofAgricultural Economics. 54(1):159-174.

Weersink, Alfons. 2006. “Agricultural Economics in Canada: Ready to Step Up or Fall Back?” Canadian Journal ofAgricultural Economics. 54(1):1-9. (invited).

Herath, Deepananda, Alfons Weersink and Chantal Line-Carpentier. 2005. “Spatial Dynamics of the Livestock Sector in the United States: Do Environmental Regulations Matter?” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 30(1): 45-68.

Weersink, Alfons, R.S. Llewellyn and D.J. Pannell. 2005. Economics of Pre-emptive Management to Avoid Weed Resistance to Glyphosate in Australia”. Crop Protection. 24: 659-665.

Weersink, Alfons, and Ada Wossink. 2005. Lessons from Agri-Environmental Policies in Other Countries for Dealing with Salinity in Australia”. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture. 45(11): 1481-1494.

Weersink, Alfons, David Pannell, Murray Fulton and Andreas Meyer-Aurich. 2005. Agriculture's Likely Role in Meeting Canada's Kyoto Commitments”. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics. 53(4): 425-441.