Alan P. Ker

After obtaining his joint PhD in Economics and Statistics at North Carolina State University (09-92 to 03-96), Alan worked as a professor (and subsequently Head from 2002-07 in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Arizona. In April 2009, Alan and his kids moved to Canada where he joined the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics in his new position as Chair and Professor. In September 2014, Alan concluded his 5-year term and became Director of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy. The Institute attracts and supports students in the area of food and agricultural economics, hosts conferences, publishes FAREShare (newsletter) and supports FARETalk (podcast). Alan served as 2016-17 President of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society and sits on the editorial boards of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics and the European Review of Agricultural Economics. Alan has testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. Alan spent 2016 fall term visiting Sapienza University (Rome) and 2017 winter term visiting University of Queensland (Brisbane). Alan has organized both national and provincial conferences on issues of current policy relevance to the Canadian agricultural and food sectors. His interests are varied having published in leading academic journals ranging from agricultural economics, economics, statistics, probability, law, animal science, and plant science. Current research involves the link between climate change, innovation, and yield volatilities, issues related to risk management and crop insurance, and developing methodologies that borrow information from like dgps to increase small sample efficiency of nonparametric estimators.  Alan has also written for the popular press publishing on issues related to agri-food policy in the "National Post", "The Hill Times", and "Conversation Canada" as well as others. 

Current Grants (sole PI only list):

"Climate Change, Comparative Advantage, and Agricultural Policy", PI: Alan P. Ker; 2018-2020 (OMAFRA, $96,000)
"Modelling Trade Scenarios for Dairy and Poultry", PI: Alan P. Ker; 2017-2018 (OMAFRA-ARP, $85,000)
"Climate Change, Technology, and Yield Volatilities: Measurement and Economic Implications for Ontario.", PI: Alan P. Ker; 2017-2019 (OMAFRA-ARP, $167,000)
"Thresholds, Climate Change, and Ontario Crop Yields ." PI: Alan P. Ker; 2016-2018 (OMAFRA-ND, $120,000)
"Competitiveness of Ontario’s Agri-Food Sector under Import Pressures.", PI: Alan P. Ker; 2016-2018 (OMAFRA-ND, $177,000 )
"Developing An Economic Model of Ontario’s Pork Sector with Application to Disease Outbreak and Policy Response Analysis", PI: Alan P. Ker; 2016-2018 (OMAFRA-EM, $60,000 )
"Modelling Ontario's Chicken industry for Policy Analysis." PI: Alan P. Ker; 2016-2018 (OMAFRA-ARP, $120,000 )


Academic History

Ph.D. Economics and Statistics (co-major), North Carolina State University, Sept. 1992- March 1996.
M.Sc. Agricultural Economics, University of Guelph, Sept. 1989- Aug. 1991.
B.A. Honours Economics, University of Waterloo, Sept. 1985- Aug. 1989.

Awards and Honours

- Editorial Boards - Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics; European Journal of Agricultural Economics
- Honourable Mention, 2018 Best Journal Article - Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2018.
- co-supervised Rebecca Elskamp - winner of 2017 Canadian Agricultural Economics Society Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis Award (awarded every three years)
- supervised Regan Arntz-Gray - co-winner of 2017 Canadian Agricultural Economics Society Outstanding M.Sc. Thesis Award
- President, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society 2016-17
- supervised Tor Tolhurst - winner of 2015 Canadian Agricultural Economics Society Outstanding M.Sc. Thesis Award


aker's picture

Director and Professor, Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy

ext. 53236
Room 312

Research Impact

- innovation, climate change, and crop yield volatility
- risk management / insurance
- small sample nonparametric econometrics

Featured Publications

* denotes students


Ker, Alan P. and Abdoul Sam "Semiparametric Estimation of the Link Function in Binary-Choice Single-Index Models." Computational Statistics. Springer


Ker, Alan P., Barry Barnett, David Jacques*, and Tor Tolhurst* "Canadian Business Risk Management: Private Firms, Crown Corporations, and Public Institutions." Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics. Wiley

Li, Na*, Alan P. Ker, Abdoul Sam, and Satheesh Aradhyula “Modelling regime-dependent agricultural commodity price volatilities”, Agricultural Economics . Wiley

Ker, Alan P. “Evaluating Agricultural Economists within Colleges and Faculties of Agriculture.” Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics,  (presidential address). Wiley

Ker, Alan P. and Yong Liu* “Bayesian Model Averaging of Possibly Similar Nonparametric Densities”, Computational Statistics . Springer

Cairns, Alex*, Tor Tolhurst*, Poon Ken*, Alan P. Ker, David Jacques*, Stephen Duff "The Economic Impact of a Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreak for Ontario's Beef Sector." Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics, . Wiley


Ker, Alan P. "Nonparametric Estimation of Possibly Similar Densities." Statistics and Probability Letters. Elseveir

Ker, Alan P.,  Tor Tolhurst* and Yong Liu* "Bayesian Estimation of Possibly Similar Yield Densities: Implications for Rating Crop Insurance Contracts." American Journal of Agricultural Economics.  Blackwell.


Diiro, G*, Alan P. Ker, Abdoul Sam "The Role of Gender in Fertilizer Adoption in Uganda." African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, . 

Gaudin, A*, Tolhurst, T*Alan P. Ker, Janovicek, K. & Deen B. “Increasing Crop Diversity Improves Yield Stability and Resilience to Weather Variations.” PLOS One, .

Tolhurst, Tor* and Alan P. Ker “On Technological Change in Yields." American Journal of Agricultural Economics, . Blackwell

Recent Outreach:

Member of Team Ontario BRM Review; 2017-2018. 
"Slumping milk prices force dairy farmers to think outside the barn", Christian Science Monitor, June, 2018.  
"In Conversation: Bringing to Light Economic Outcomes of Food Policy", Arrell Food Institute, University of Guelph, March 2018. 
"Post Conference Report: Current Issues in Canadian Agri-Food Policy", March, 2018. 
"Experts Weigh in on a Food Policy for Canada", FAREShare, January, 2018. 
"Risk Warning: Inside the campaign to get better risk management programs for Canada's farmers", Country Guide, January, 2018. 
"NAFTA renegotiations: Seeing the benefits through the bluster", National Post, Conversation Canada,  Hamilton Spectator, Kitchner Post, September 2017
"Terminating NAFTA Highly Unlikely", University of Guelph homepage, September 2017
"Managing Risk and Efficacy of Government Programs", FAREShare, July, 2017
"Volatile times - how innovation and climate change impact risk management programs", RealAgriculture.com (podcast), June, 2017
"Will Publicly Subsidized Crop Insurance Prevent On-Farm Climate Change Mitigation", FAREShare, May, 2017
"Ag policy seen as bigger risk than farm debt", Western Producer, May 18, 2017
"Commentary versus Content: We Need Your Feedback", FAREShare, March, 2017
"Trump's presidency puts Canada's food producers on alert", The Hill Times, February 14, 2017
"NAFTA, Trump, and Trade", FAREShare, January, 2017