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 and his students have been consistently recognized with national awards of excellence for their research. 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):

"Commodity Specific Economic Modelling", PI: Alan P. Ker; 2019-2021 ($300,000)
"Climate Change, Comparative Advantage, and Agricultural Policy", PI: Alan P. Ker; 2018-2020 ($96,000)
"Modelling Trade Scenarios for Dairy and Poultry", PI: Alan P. Ker; 2017-2018 ($85,000)
"Climate Change, Technology, and Yield Volatilities: Measurement and Economic Implications for Ontario.", PI: Alan P. Ker; 2017-2019 ($167,000)
"Thresholds, Climate Change, and Ontario Crop Yields ." PI: Alan P. Ker; 2016-2018 ($120,000)
"Competitiveness of Ontario’s Agri-Food Sector under Import Pressures.", PI: Alan P. Ker; 2016-2018 ($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 ($60,000 )
"Modelling Ontario's Chicken industry for Policy Analysis." PI: Alan P. Ker; 2016-2018 ($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

OAC Research Chair in Agricultural Risk and Policy, 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 Tol N. Tolhurst "On the Treatment of Heteroscedasticity in Crop Yield Data." American Journal of Agricultural Economics. Blackwell


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 Academic Presentations 

"Subsidized Crop Insurance and Technological Change in Crop Yields?", Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, October 2018.
"Nonparametric Estimation of Like DGPs", Economics Dept., Dalhousie University , September 2018.
"Mixture Models and Economic Heterogeneity", International Agricultural Economics Association, Conference; Vancouver, August 2018.
"Climate and Innovation Induced Yield Volatilities", International Biometrics Conference; Barcelona, Spain, July 2018.
"Is there too much history in historical yield data", Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics; University of Georgia, Athens, June 2018.
"Climate Change and Agricultural Productivity", Beijing Technology and Business University, Beijing, May 2018.
"Nonparametric Econometrics using R", Minzu University, Beijing, May 2018.
"Is there too much history in historical yield data", Minzu University, Beijing, May 2018.
"Nonparametric Econometrics", Minzu University, Beijing, May 2018.
"Mixture Model Estimation with Applications", Minzu University, Beijing, May 2018.
"Climate Change and Agricultural Productivity",Minzu University, Beijing, May 2018.
"Is There Too Much History in Historical Yield Data", Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech University - Blacksburg, Virginia, March 2018.
"Is There Too Much History in Historical Yield Data", Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California - Davis, Davis, December 2017.
"Is There Too Much History in Historical Yield Data", Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Guelph, Guelph, December 2017.
"Is There Too Much History in Historical Yield Data", Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Arizona, Tucson, November 2017.
"Is There Too Much History in Historical Yield Data", Morrison School of Agribusiness, Arizona State University, Phoenix, November 2017.
"On the Use of Historical County Yield Data", Department of Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, November 2017.
"Borrowing Information Across Space and Time from Like DGPs with Application to Rating Insurance Contracts", Insurance Mathematics and Economics, Vienna, Austria, July 2017.
"Climate, Innovation, Yield Volatilities and BRM Programs", Canadian Agricultural Economics Society Annual Meeting, Montreal, June 2017.
"Borrowing information across time from like DGPs", Economics Department, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. April 2017.
"Changing Climate, Technology, and Yield Volatilities", Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. March 2017.
"Climate and Innovation Induced Yield Volatility", Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations, Rome, Italy. November 2016.
"Canadian Agricultural Public Policy: Trade, Climate Change, and Risk", Sapienza University, Rome, Italy. November 2016.
"Using Extraneous Data to Rate Crop Insurance Contracts: Issues of Correlation and Consistency", AAEA, Boston. July 2016.
"Evaluating Agricultural Economists in Colleges and Schools of Agriculture", Presidential Address, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society, Victoria, B.C. June 2016.
"Nonparametric Econometrics with R", Learning Workshop, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society, Victoria, B.C. June 2016.

Recent Outreach Presentations

"Current Trade Issues for Canadian Agriculture", Keynote Address, 2019 Ontario Canola Growers Association Annual Meeting, January 2019.
"Modelling the Canadian Dairy Industry", Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, June 2018.
"Current Trade Issues for Canadian Agriculture", FarmSmart 2018 Conference, Guelph, January 2018.
"US Crop Insurance Program", OMAFRA, December 2017.
"BRM Policy Options and Efficacy", Risk Management Workshop, Winnipeg, November 2017.
"Canadian Dairy and Trade", Canadian Dairy Commission, Ottawa, October 2017.
"Market Models for Policy Analysis", OMAFRA, Guelph, September 2017
"Climate and Innovation Induced Yield Volatilities", Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy 2017 Conference, Guelph. May 2017.
"Debt in the Agricultural Sector and Its Effects", Testimony to House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, Ottawa. May 2017.
"The Fingerprint of Climate and Innovation on Yields", Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, January 2017.
"Current Issues in Production Agriculture", TD Bank, Guelph, Ontario, April 2016.
"Climate and innovation induced crop yield volatilities with (weak) policy implications", OMAFRA Research Rendezvous, Guelph, Ontario, April 2016.

Recent Conferences Organized:

"Current Issues in Canadian Agri-Food Policy", 8th Annual CAES Policy Conference, Ottawa, January, 2018.
"Big Data, Changing Climate, and Agriculture", Guelph, May,  2017.
"Is Production Agriculture Headed for Another Farm Financial Crisis", Guelph, May, 2015.

Recent Outreach:

Member of Team Ontario BRM Review; 2017-2019. 
"Managing producers' risk key focus for new OAC research chair", RealAgriculture.com, December, 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