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Topics in Food Market Analysis
FRE 502
Instructor: Dr. Carol McAusland
Office: MCML 337
Office Hours: In‐person: Mon/Wed 2:30‐3:30 MCML 154
Class Schedule: Mon/Wed 1:00-2:30 pm
Classroom: MCML 154
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion


UBC’s Point Grey Campus is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) people. The land it is situated on has always been a place of learning for the Musqueam people, who for millennia have passed on their culture, history, and traditions from one generation to the next on this site.


Course Title: Topics in Food Market Analysis

Course Code Number: FRE 502

Days and Time: Mondays, Wednesdays 1:00‐ 2:30pm MCML 154

Course Instructor: Dr. Carol McAusland

Contact Details: (+1) 604–822–3350

Office: MCML 337

Office Hours: In‐person: Mondays, Wednesdays 2:30‐3:30 MCML 154. Other times by appointment.


This course teaches students how to utilitize theoretical and econometric models from International, Environmental, and Public Economics and answer questions related to trade in agrifood and environmentally‐sensitive products, environmental externalities and regulation, and consumer markets for impure public goods (e.g. Certified Organic products).


MFRE courses required in your first semester, or permission of the instructor.


Dr. McAusland is Professor of Food & Resource Econonomics in the Faculty of Land & Food Systems. She has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of Environmental Economics, International Economics, Food Consumption Economics, and Statistics since the last millenium. She has held elected positions as the Chair of the Canadian Resource & Environmental Economics Association and member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Environmental and Resource Economics. She has served as the Co‐Editor of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management and is on the editorial board of the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economics.


Juan Fercovic will be your resource for course materials and for grading‐related issues.


Students enrolled in this course will engage in numerous activities: attending lectures, completing problems sets, preparing background reports, and engaging in a policy‐related debate.


  • Environmental Economics Part I
    • Externalities
    • Pigouvian Taxes
  • Simple Trade Model & Policy
    • Excess Supply & Demand
    • Tariffs, Subsidies and Quotas
  • Causes and Consequences of International Trade
    • i. Comparative Advantage ii. Love of Variety iii. Firm Heterogeneity and Market Power iv. Gravity
    • Policies i. Non‐Tariff Barriers (VERs, Procurement Rules, Anti‐Dumping) ii. Trade Agreements
    • Why do economists love trade, while others hate it? i. Winners and losers ii. Trade Liberalization in a Distorted Economy
  • Environmental Economics Part II
    • Marginal Cost of Abatement
    • Beyond Pigouvian Taxes: other policies including Cap and Trade
    • Deep Dive: Carbon Policy
  • Consumers and Impure Public Goods
    • Eco‐labels and Fair Trade
    • Divestment & Boycotts
    • Charges vs. Subsidies


Students completing this course will be able to use tools of International, Environmental and Public Economics to

  • predict how trade and non‐trade policies will affect
    • consumer and producer welfare,
    • the flow of goods across borders, and
    • the intensity of polluting activity and resource use within affected jurisdictions
  • forecast how environmental policies will alter
    • household welfare and industry profitability
    • trade flows
    • international distribution of carbon emissions
  • evaluate the effectiveness of consumer‐related actions to address
    • pollution from agricultural production
    • fossil fuel extraction and consumption


In addition to attending lectures and reading assigned materials, students will engage in two types of graded activities: problem sets and policy debates.

Some of the questions on the problem sets will have students using the analytical tools taught in lecture to draw predictions for how specific policies will affect households, firms, countries, and the environment; other questions will have students read and synthesize extant evidence to draw conclusions about active policy questions.

For the debates, students will do a deep dive into a specific policy question, assemble and analyze existing evidence to argue---in writing and verbally---for or against a specified policy proposal.

Students are invited to use Piazza ( to propose debate topics as well as discuss course content.


Available at Canvas: You are required to regularly login to your course page for FRE 502. Your syllabus, course‐lecture slides, additional material, announcements, assignments, and grades will be available there.


Your grade shall be determined as follows
Activity/Team Date / Deadline Percent of Grade
Propose Debate Topics Wed Sept 14, 2022
Debate Topics Announced Fri Sept 16, 2022
Rank‐order Topics Sept 17-19, 2022
Assignment #1 Wed Sept 21, 2022 12.5%
Debate Teams Announced Wed Sept 21, 2022
Submit Work plan Wed Sept 28, 2022
Submit Outline Wed Oct 12, 2022
Assignment #2 Wed Oct 19, 2022 12.5%
Submit Annotated Slide Decks Mon Nov 7, 2022
Mid‐project Peer Evaluations Tues Nov 8, 2022
Peer Reviews (worksheets submitted; feedback given) Mon Nov 14, 2022 5%
Submit (Revised) Annotated Slide Decks Mon Nov 21, 2022 32%
Assignment #3 Fri Nov 25, 2022 12.5%
Live Debates Nov 28 – Dec 7, 2022 11%
Questions for Classmates’ Debates 2%
Assignment #4 Wed Dec 14, 2022 12.5%
Total 100%

Description of Evaluations

Some of the assessed activities are team activities. Two of the problem sets will be group assignments, as will be the Live Debates and Debate Summaries. For problem sets, in general the same grade will be given to each member of the team.1 For the Debate Summaries and Debate Performance, each student’s grade will be based partially or entirely on individual contributions, as specified in the detailed instructions for each activity.

Academic honesty

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. The minimum penalty for any incident of academic dishonesty will be an automatic grade of zero in the relevant course requirement. You may have additional marks subtracted from your class grade, receive a failing grade in the course, and be reported to the faculty for further disciplinary action.


UBC provides resources to support student learning and to maintain healthy lifestyles but recognizes that sometimes crises arise and so there are additional resources to access including those for survivors of sexual violence. UBC values respect for the person and ideas of all members of the academic community. Harassment and discrimination are not tolerated nor is suppression of academic freedom. UBC provides appropriate accommodation for students with disabilities and for religious observances. UBC values academic honesty and students are expected to acknowledge the ideas generated by others and to uphold the highest academic standards in all of their actions.

Details of the policies and how to access support are available on the UBC Senate website.

Academic Accommodation for Students

The University accommodates students with disabilities who have registered with the Disability Resource Centre. The University also accommodates students whose religious obligations conflict with attendance or scheduled tests or exams. Other absences for varsity athletics, family obligations or other similar commitments are not part of University policy and students should not assume that they would be accommodated. Academic accommodations help students with a disability or ongoing medical condition overcome challenges that may affect their academic success. Students requiring academic accommodations must register with Access & Diversity. A&D will determine that student's eligibility for accommodations in accordance with Policy 73: Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities. Your instructors do not determine academic accommodations, however, your instructor may consult with Access and Diversity should the accommodations affect the essential learning outcomes of a course. If you have a pressing issue those conflicts with an exam, you should discuss this with your instructor as soon as possible. Refer to the UBC Calendar for details of ‘academic concession’.

Academic Integrity

The academic enterprise is founded on honesty, civility, and integrity. As members of this enterprise, all students are expected to know, understand, and follow the codes of conduct regarding academic integrity.

At the most basic level, this means submitting only original work done by you and acknowledging all sources of information or ideas and attributing them to others as required. This also means you should not cheat, copy, or mislead others about what is your work.

Violations of academic integrity (i.e., misconduct) lead to the breakdown of the academic enterprise, and therefore serious consequences arise and harsh sanctions are imposed. For example, incidences of plagiarism or cheating may result in a mark of zero on the assignment or exam and more serious consequences may apply if the matter is referred to the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Discipline. Careful records are kept in order to monitor and prevent recurrences.

For International Students ‐ Issue of controversial topics in online learning

During this pandemic, the shift to online learning has greatly altered teaching and studying at UBC, including changes to health and safety considerations. Keep in mind that some UBC courses might cover topics that are censored or considered illegal by non‐Canadian governments. This may include, but is not limited to, human rights, representative government, defamation, obscenity, gender or sexuality, and historical or current geopolitical controversies. If you are a student living abroad, you will be subject to the laws of your local jurisdiction, and your local authorities might limit your access to course material or take punitive action against you. UBC is strongly committed to academic freedom, but has no control over foreign authorities (please visit,33,86,0 for an articulation of the values of the University conveyed in the Senate Statement on Academic Freedom).

Thus, we recognize that students will have legitimate reason to exercise caution in studying certain subjects. If you have concerns regarding your personal situation, consider postponing taking a course with manifest risks, until you are back on campus or reach out to your academic advisor to find substitute courses. For further information and support, please visit:‐expression


All written work will be submitted via Canvas, including homework assignments and Debate Summaries. Debates will take place in‐person (and be closed‐cast) unless at least one member of one of the debating teams is unavailable to attend in‐person for health and/or mandatory quarantine reasons. An individual who wants to opt out of in‐person attendance at their debate because of COVID‐19 related obstacles must have written approval from the Director of the MFRE program. If at least one member of the debating teams is unable to attend in‐person, then

Plan D with 1 or 2 students unable to attend their debate in‐person but able to attend via Zoom (i.e. asymptomatic student in quarantine)

  • The remaining students will participate in‐person while the quarantining students will participate via Zoom.

Plan D with 3 or more students unable to attend their debate in‐person (including scenarios in which in‐class lectures have been suspended by UBC and the MFRE program)

  • The debate and corresponding lecture will be offered online via Zoom; class will not meet in person

Plan D with at least one student unable to participate in their debate due to verified illness

  • That debate will be rescheduled to December

Plan E with the instructor unavailable for in‐person attendance (e.g. asymptomatic quarantine)

  • Lectures and debates will be conducted online. Students will be given at least 24 hours notice (where possible).

Plan E with the instructor unavailable (i.e. illness)

  • If possible, the instructor will produce video‐taped versions of lecture materials to be screened during regularly scheduled lecture time (or viewed at a student’s convenience), and the TA will supervise in‐person debates at regularly scheduled times. In the case of extreme illness, video‐lectures will be provided at a later date (and perused at students' convenience) and/or a substitute instructor will provide in‐person lectures


All materials of this course (course handouts, lecture slides, assessments, course readings, etc.) are the intellectual property of the Course Instructor or licensed to be used in this course by the copyright owner. Redistribution of these materials by any means without permission of the copyright holder(s) constitutes a breach of copyright and may lead to academic discipline.

All students are expected to attend lectures in-person. With prior permission, a student who is mildly ill and/or in asymptomatic quarantine may request a zoom link and attend lecture in real-time. With prior permission, a student who is seriously ill---and so unable to participate remotely in real-time---may request that the lecture be recorded for later review. While we will do our best to offer live-streaming and video capture as per the preceding scenarios, note that technologies sometime fail, so existence of a video-recording is not guaranteed. Posting or distributing recordings of FRE 502 lectures by anyone other than the instructor or TA is strictly prohibited.