Resource and Rural Economics Division (RRED)

Marshy wetlands

RRED Management Contacts

RRED studies linkages between agricultural, energy, climate, and environmental policies; ecosystem services and land use; research and development of agricultural technologies and agricultural productivity; dynamics of farming; rural development; and the well-being of farm and rural households. RRED also collaborates with USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to plan and implement an annual national survey (the Agricultural Resource Management Survey, or ARMS) of farm enterprises and farm households.

Conservation, Climate Change, and the Environment

RRED investigates issues related to USDA’s conservation and environmental quality goals and the economic and environmental implications of bioenergy policies using primary, spatial, and program data as well as experimental and behavioral economics. Researchers also develop and use economic optimization models and a wealth of land use and production data to analyze the economic and environmental implications of alternative approaches to adapting to changes in climate and resource constraints as demand for agricultural production grows.

Agricultural Production, Technologies, and Research & Development

RRED examines the economic drivers of adoption of new technologies such as genetically engineered seed, reduced tillage, nutrient and soil management practices, and production systems like organic farming. RRED also develops estimates of total factor productivity in U.S. and global agriculture; examines the relationships between technology, natural resource quality, and productivity; and analyzes the influences of science policy and R&D funding on technology transfer, private innovation, and agricultural productivity.

Dynamics of Farming

RRED estimates and reports on a variety of financial measures used to evaluate the performance of the farm sector and farm businesses, like farm income, debt, and value added. The farm sector’s organization and structural characteristics have a direct bearing on farm viability, farm sector performance, and the distributional effects of farm policies. RRED’s assessment of these structural trends plays a critical role in understanding farm finances, productivity growth, farmland, values, and the effects of government programs.

Rural Households

RRED researchers analyze the factors that drive rural economic growth and change and investigate the roles that different types of wealth play in generating and sustaining rural prosperity. RRED also develops and analyzes basic indicators of the well-being of farm and rural households, including measures of employment, income, poverty, and education. Researchers examine the implications of the geographic diversity of economic and social conditions for rural development policy and assess the interaction between the farm and nonfarm sectors of rural economies.