Alfons Weersink

Alfons Weersink (photo)

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.

Research Interests:  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.  Present research projects can be categorized into three main areas:

a) Evaluating the economic, environmental and land-use impacts of green policies on the agri-food sector (http://bioeconproject.com/);
This project started by examining whether local bioproduct efforts by provincial governments would benefit Ontario crop farmers experiencing low output prices. The rapid swings in crop prices stemming from global macroeconomic changes including biofuel policies has partially shifted the focus of the research, particularly at the extension level, to explaining the reasons for these dramatic changes and their implications for the agricultural sector. There are a number of individual sub-projects ranging from specific farm-level evaluations of green technology (i.e. farm-based anaerobic digesters) to global market assessments of biofuel policies.

b) Examining the policy implications of a changing agricultural sector (http://www.ruralecon.com/);
This project examines how the structural changes in agriculture affect the objectives and the efficacy of policies designed to improve efficiency and/or equity. The farm sector has evolved from a homogeneous group with relatively few differences in size, management and composition to one with significant differences even within a given commodity sector. The farmer, the farm, and the farm family used to be one-in-the-same but now many farmers may operate one farm and one farmer may operate many farms. Consequently, policies designed to improve competitiveness may target a different group of farmers and/or farms than policies targeted to alleviate equity concerns. In addition to changes within farmers, are changes within farmland owners and these changes have implications for the transfer efficiency of government support programs.

c) Assessing the effectiveness of environmental policies within the agricultural sector.
This has been my main area of research over the last decade. One part involves assessing the profitability of farming systems and the reasons for their use by farmers. A second component assesses the trade-offs between environmental quality and farm profitability between farming systems. This work involves calibrating a biophysical simulation model to predict residual levels and combining it with a farm optimization model. The final part examines the effectiveness of policies to achieve environmental quality goals.

Teaching Interests:

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

See Alfons's home department profile for further details.