News Service


William Meyers, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, (515) 294-6237
Judith Pim, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, (515) 294-6257
Steve Jones, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa -- An Iowa State University economist is joining high- ranking European officials to discuss food issues in the Baltic nations. William Meyers is speaking at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Meeting on Baltic Agro-Food Policies, Nov. 26-27, in Riga, Latvia.

The ministers of agriculture from the Baltic nations (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia), Sweden, Poland and Finland are among the estimated 100 persons participating. The secretaries of state from Norway and Denmark and officials from Ireland and the World Bank also will attend.

Meyers is a professor of economics and former interim director of ISU's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. He and a Swedish professor are the only two academic researchers taking part in the conference.

Meeting participants will discuss agricultural policy reforms in the Baltic countries. The Baltics and most other former Communist states have been working throughout the 1990s to restructure their economies to be more competitive in global markets.

"They are changing from state-owned farms, processors and other agribusinesses to a privatized structure," said Meyers, who has worked with Baltic research institutes since 1989. "They've come a long way, but there is still more work to be done to develop a market-oriented agro-food sector."

The Baltics are among 10 nations with transition economies preparing to join the European Union, Meyers added.

Bruce Babcock, director of CARD, said it's uncommon for an academic researcher to be invited to a ministerial-level meeting.

"Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Europe, and Willi will miss Thanksgiving, but he believes he can't miss the meeting because it's a rare opportunity," Babcock said.

"Willi has been really been involved in the economic transition and economic development issues in central Europe," Babcock added. "He has quite a bit of specialized knowledge on transition issues, which is why they're meeting with him."

Meyers is the co-editor and author of two chapters of a forthcoming book from the ISU Press: Lithuania's Accession to the European Union: Successes and Challenges for a Rural Economy in Transition. He will be on faculty improvement leave at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., for six months starting in January, and then will return to teach and do research in ISU's economics department.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is a Paris-based international economics group made up of major industrialized nations.


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