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Economics expert discusses barriers to sustainable coffee production

Economics expert discusses barriers to sustainable coffee production

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Lycoming College is excited to welcome Stephanie Brockmann, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics at the University of New Hampshire, as a guest speaker of the economics department. Her talk, titled “Keeping the Cup Full: Addressing Barriers to Sustainable Coffee Production in Less Developed Economies,” is scheduled for April 5, 5:30 p.m. in Krapf Gateway Center’s Trogner Presentation room. This free event is open to the public.

In her talk, Brockmann will address three barriers for smallholder coffee farmers living in less developed economies, including perpetually low and variable prices that make production inviable, low participation in green certifications due to time and financial constraints, and underestimation of the value of pest control from bird predation – and what can be done to address them.

According to Brockmann, millions of these coffee farmers depend on the production and sale of coffee to support their livelihoods. They primarily grow coffee in either a monoculture — under direct sunlight — or agroforestry systems, also known as shade-grown systems. Though the monoculture, sun-grown systems yield more coffee berries, the shaded systems yield higher quality berries, provide environmental services, and support biodiversity. Despite the compounding benefits of shade-grown production, most farmers have transitioned or will transition into monoculture, sun-grown systems because of barriers that threaten the sustainability of shade-grown systems.

“It’s important for our economics students to hear from researchers in the field and consider how economics principles can be applied to various issues,” said Mica Kurtz, Ph.D., associate professor of economics at Lycoming College. “Dr. Brockman’s study of coffee farmers is of particular interest at Lycoming, where many students use our own Warrior Coffee Program to gain real-world experience while learning about sustainable development in the Dominican Republic.”

Brockmann is an environmental and development economist focusing on how interactions between people and the environment create economic inefficiencies and what policy prescriptions are needed as remedies. Her research involves building and analyzing spatial bioeconomic models in both developed- and developing-economy settings and informing policy amid spatial processes and externalities. She holds a master’s degree in applied economics from Western Kentucky University and a doctoral degree from the University of Wyoming.

Lycoming College’s department of economics helps students examine important questions at the heart of modern, real-world economics debates and utilize theoretical models and facts to carefully analyze and answer those questions. More information on studying economics at Lycoming is available at

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