Bellemare

Marc F. Bellemare

Associate Professor of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota
Areas of Expertise:
  • International Development
  • Policy in Other Countries
  • Food & Drug Regulation

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About Marc

Bellemare is an economist whose research focuses on international development, agriculture, and food policy. This is relevant to public policy in the United States because international development is often subordinate to foreign policy – when it is not a tool of foreign policy – and it is directly related to U.S. policy because farm bills are usually omnibus bills encompassing agricultural protection, trade policy, food aid, and nutrition programs. Bellemare has served as a consultant for the Political Instability Task Force and the World Bank. He has also presented his research on food prices to the Committee on Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on Social and Political Stresses of the National Research Council. Before going to graduate school, he spent two summers working for a Cabinet minister in Ottawa, and he interned at the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a specialized agency of the United Nations in Rome.

Podcast

Publications

"Reconsidering Conventional Explanations of the Inverse Productivity Relationship" (with Christopher B. Barrett and Janet Y. Hou). World Development 38, no. 1 (2010): 88-97.
Illustrates how many observers of development policy conclude from the existence of an inverse relationship between farm size and productivity that smallholder farmers can ensure food security in the future. In this paper, we demonstrate that this inverse relationship is a statistical artifact, and so that banking on small farms to feed the future would be gravely mistaken.
"Rising Food Prices, Food Price Volatility, and Social Unrest," Duke University, July 31, 2012.
Shows that it is increases in food price levels rather than more volatile food prices that are to blame for the food riots that prevail during food crises. In other words, if one is interested in curbing social unrest, one should invest towards keeping food prices low rather than in price stabilization policies.
"The Productivity Impacts of Formal and Informal Land Rights: Evidence from Madagascar" Land Economics 89, no. 2 (2013): 272-290.
Asks whether land titles have the beneficial impacts many free-market advocates believe they have. Specifically, I look at Madagascar, a context where the U.S. government had pledged $110 million dollars to title plots of land via the Millennium Challenge Corporation. As it turns out, land titles have no impact on agricultural productivity. This points to the need to reform the legal system prior to spending large sums of money on titling programs.
"Why Do Members of Congress Support Agricultural Protection?," (with Nicholas Carnes), Duke University, May 31, 2013.
Looks at what drives legislators’ support for agricultural protection. Specifically, we study whether legislators’ roll-call votes on the 2002 and 2008 farm bills are driven by their own preferences for agriculture, by the proportion of their constituents who are farmers, or by the amount of money they receive as campaign contributions from agricultural Political Action Committees.
"The Welfare Impacts of Commodity Price Volatility: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia" (with Christopher B. Barrett and David R. Just). American Journal of Agricultural Economics (forthcoming).
Quantifies the impacts of commodity – food, in particular – price volatility on the welfare of rural Ethiopian households. Against conventional wisdom, we find that although rural households in sub-Saharan Africa are indeed hurt by price volatility (or uncertainty), it is the wealthier households who are hurt the most, and so they are the ones who stand most to benefit from price stabilization policies. This explains why price stabilization policies are increasingly likely the more developed a country becomes.

In the News

"Farmers Markets and Food-Borne Illness," Marc F. Bellemare, New York Times, January 15, 2016.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on foods that contain GMOs discussed in Heather BrownMarc F. Bellemare, "Good Question: What Foods Contain GMOs?," CBS, April 27, 2015.
Marc F. Bellemare quoted on taxing sugary drinks in Tamar Haspel, "Is a Soda Tax the Solution to America’s Obesity Problem?" The Washington Post, March 23, 2015.
"Development Bloat: How Mission Creep Harms the Poor," Marc F. Bellemare, Foreign Affairs, January 5, 2014.
"Why Africa's Food Markets are Thin," Marc F. Bellemare, The Raleigh News & Observer, April 25, 2008.
"The UN's Useless Promises," Marc F. Bellemare, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 28, 2010.
"Why Food Price Volatility Doesn't Matter," Marc F. Bellemare (with Christopher B. Barrett), Foreign Affairs, July 12, 2011.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on agricultural policy discussed in "“Spannmålsfeber” (“Grain Fever")," Axess Magasin, November 2011.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on commodity prices in Ethiopia discussed in Tate WatkinsMarc F. Bellemare, "Fighting Famines with Markets: In Ethiopia, an Exchange Empowers Rural Farmers," GOOD Magazine, April 13, 2012.
Guest to discuss development policy on CCTV-America's Biz Asia America, Marc F. Bellemare, August 3, 2012.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on the effects and causes of food crises discussed in "Sahel Drought in West Africa Leading to Crisis as Millions of Lives at Risk," Metro UK, August 7, 2012.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on the needs of developing countries discussed in "Africa: Climate Conversations: Will Information – Or Infrastructure – Help with Food Price Shocks?," AllAfrica.com, August 8, 2012.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on the effects of price volatility on social unrest discussed in Neha PaliwalMarc F. Bellemare, "Actually, Food Riots Might Not be the ‘New Normal’," Foreign Policy, March 8, 2013.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on Canadian aid and foreign policy discussed in Rick WestheadMarc F. Bellemare, "CIDA Merger with Foreign Affairs Might Help the Poor," Toronto Star, March 22, 2013.
"Lion Hunting in Tanzania: Getting Away with Murder?," Marc F. Bellemare, Star Tribune, March 22, 2013.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on the most effective ways to increase development in Africa discussed in Tom MurphyMarc F. Bellemare, "Agricultural Gains in Africa Crippled by Funding Crisis," Christian Science Monitor, March 27, 2013.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on what motivates legislators’ votes on farm policy discussed in Michael FitzgeraldMarc F. Bellemare (with Nicholas Carnes), "Voters, Not Lobbyists, Deserve Blame for Our Crappy Farm Policies," Pacific Standard, June 27, 2013.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on legislators’ agriculture-related votes discussed in Barrie McKennaMarc F. Bellemare (with Nicholas Carnes), "Taxpayers Oblivious to the Cost of Farm Subsidies," The Globe and Mail, July 7, 2013.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on U.S. agricultural policy toward quinoa growing discussed in Lydia DePillisMarc F. Bellemare, "Quinoa Should be Taking Over the World. This Is Why It Isn’t," Washington Post, July 11, 2013.
Marc F. Bellemare's research on farm subsidies policy discussed in Brad PlummerMarc F. Bellemare (with Nicholas Carnes), "The U.S. Has Few Farmers. So Why Does Congress Love Farm Subsidies?," Washington Post, July 12, 2013.