Agricultural, Resource Economics Ph.D. Student Wins USDA Fellowship

Through this prestigious fellowship, Ph.D. candidate Dongin Kim will study how foreign trade shocks impact U.S. agriculture

Dongin Kim headshot

Dongin Kim (Contributed Photo)

Dongin Kim, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, was recently awarded a prestigious national fellowship from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Kim was one of 65 recipients of an Education and Workforce Development fellowship from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This USDA program provides funding to support the development of the next generation of research, education, and extension professionals in the food and agricultural sciences.

This funding will support Kim’s work studying how foreign trade shocks impact U.S. agriculture.

The agricultural industry has been disproportionately impacted by recent retaliatory tariffs imposed on the U.S. by foreign trading partners. This caused significant losses for American farmers, leading to a massive federal bailout program.

The retaliatory tariff is a tax placed by governments on imported products from partnered countries in response to the tariffs imposed on their exported goods, compelling the grant of reciprocal privileges. One such set of tariffs originated in 2018 when the U.S. government imposed heavy taxes on goods originating from China being imported to the U.S. In response, China instituted a stiff tariff on U.S. goods, including agricultural products like dairy, meat, and soybeans.

There is abundant anecdotal support for the idea that these foreign trade shocks hurt American farmers. Yet, there is no evidence-based research proving the effects these trade policy changes are having on trade and income for those in the agricultural sector.

Kim, under the guidance of assistant professor Sandro Steinbach, will assess the trade effects of foreign trade policy changes on U.S. agriculture.

First, he will create a comprehensive data set of foreign tariffs imposed against U.S. agricultural and food products. Kim will use historical data from the World Trade Organization as well as announcements from foreign ministries.

Next, Kim will incorporate monthly export data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Global Trade Atlas. The Census Bureau provides values and quantities of trade flows between the U.S. and foreign trading partners from April 1990 on. The Global Trade Atlas contains records from 95% of all global imports and exports, providing Kim with a wealth of information on which to draw.

He will scale this data to a country-level analysis to determine the U.S.’s share of international market shares relative to the tariffs. This will allow him to determine how much of a share the U.S. lost or gained, as a whole.

Kim will also analyze the short and long-term impact of tariffs on farm income, profitability, and bankruptcy.

Kim hypothesizes that his results will not be homogenous. He expects that depending on the type of foreign trade shock, the effects of foreign competition will vary based on variables such as product type and characteristics of the U.S. farm.

Kim will account for other shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic which radically changed all aspects of everyday life globally, including foreign trade and domestic supply and demand.

This research will foster the sustainability of U.S. agriculture in the face of foreign trade shocks. Such knowledge is essential to understand the structural change in the U.S. agricultural and food industry, which is heavily involved in global supply chains. Kim expects that his research will help to inform federal policies that attempt to foster the competitiveness of U.S. farmers and ranchers and increase their participation and success in international markets.

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