Education and Local Economic Development
ERS cosponsored the conference 'Promoting the Social and Economic Vitality of Rural America: The Role of Education' with the Southern Rural Development Center in April 2003. The conference brought together social scientists and education specialists from academia, government, and policy centers to discuss such topics as the impact of local schools on economic growth, school-employer partnerships, at-risk school populations, and the links between academic achievement and rural workforce outcomes.
Performance-Based Environmental Policies
ERS cosponsored a workshop with the Farm Foundation, Winrock's Henry A. Wallace Center, the UC-Berkeley Center for Sustainable Development, and Defenders of Wildlife in March 2003. The workshop reconciled theoretical benefits of performance-based policies for cost-effective improvements in agricultural water quality with the realistic constraints on their use. Participants included people working with performance-based approaches in the field, local stakeholders, scientists involved with monitoring and measuring environmental performance, economists, policymakers, and regulators. For watersheds actively pursuing such approaches in Iowa, California, New York, Oregon, and Florida, the workshop participants defined factors influencing performance-based policies for their agricultures, identified strategies for alleviating obstacles to implementation, and designed specific policy approaches for future pilot testing and analysis.
ERS Hosts Meeting on Organic Sector Data
On February 25, ERS hosted 'Briefing and Roundtable: USDA Surveys and Organic Sector Data Needs.' USDA managers of several major agricultural surveys in the Agricultural Marketing Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, and ERS discussed their surveys and opportunities for expanding them to include more information on organic production and marketing. Representatives from USDA agencies and several organic interest groups, including the Organic Trade Association and the Organic Farming Research Foundation, attended. A budget initiative to enhance organic data collection is planned, as well as incremental changes in existing surveys to get better data on organic production.