New Releases

A Close Look at WIC

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is the Nation's third largest food assistance program, with almost half of all infants and about a quarter of all children age 1-4 participating. The WIC Program: Background, Trends, and Issues (FANRR-27) presents a comprehensive background on the program-how it works, its history, program trends, and the characteristics of the population it serves. Vic Oliveira

Vertical Coordination

Two recent ERS publications—A Comparison of Vertical Coordination in the U.S. Poultry, Egg, and Pork Industries (AIB-747) and Vertical Coordination of Marketing Systems: Lessons From the Poultry, Egg, and Pork Industries (AER-807)—reveal that several market characteristics prompt contracts and vertical integration to lower transaction costs. These characteristics are (1) investments that have considerably less value outside of their intended purpose, (2) costs of measuring output characteristics that are considerably larger than costs of measuring related inputs, and (3) an environment with high degrees of uncertainty related to market demand and supplies, as well as plans and strategies of trading partners. Steve Martinez

Biotech Adoption Is Rapid, But Results Vary

Adoption of Bioengineered Crops (AER-810), showed that the rapid rise in adoption rates for Bt (insect-resistant) crop varieties will likely slow, but adoption of herbicide-tolerant crops will continue to grow over the next few years. Bt corn use and profits depend on infestations of pests like the European corn borer, which have subsided recently. Adoption of herbicide-tolerant varieties may be motivated more by convenience than by profits. Adopting genetically engineered (GE) crops results in an overall reduction in pesticide use, a plus for the environment. Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo

Weighing In on Obesity

The Winter 2002 issue of FoodReview, ERS' recently retired magazine of food economics, features ERS researchers 'weighing in' on a critical public health issue—the growing epidemic of overweight or obesity among Americans. The lead article takes a look at the American diet—typically too high in added sugars, refined grains, fats, and calories. Other articles look at the relationship between caloric intake and obesity, individuals' misperceptions about their weight status, the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and body weight, and the issues of cost effectiveness raised by Federal interventions to reduce obesity. Rosanna Morrison

Production Costs and Returns Updated with ARMS Surveys

The ERS series of reports, Characteristics and Production Costs (SB-974), uses data from USDA's annual Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) to examine how production costs vary among producers, while providing details on production practices and input levels, as well as farm operator and structural characteristics. Reports for corn, cotton, cow-calf, soybean, and wheat farms are available, with milk, sugarbeets, and rice on the way in 2003. William McBride

Examining Exchange Rate

Cited as a key influence on agricultural trade, exchange rates are the subject of a new book, Exchange Rate Volatility and International Trade (Captus Press), sponsored by ERS and with contributions from several ERS researchers. The book examines the effects of exchange rate volatility on a wide array of products like beef, poultry, and soybeans and finds that the impacts depend on the level of protection and competition in markets. The underlying research, unlike most studies in either developed or developing countries, takes exchange rate risk into account.

Computer Use and Earnings

A new report, Wage Premiums for On-the-Job Computer Use: A Metro and Nonmetro Analysis (RDRR-95), shows that the wages of rural workers who use a computer on the job are about 6 percent higher than those who do not, after other job and worker characteristics are taken into account. This suggests only a limited role for computer literacy skills in enhancing the earnings of low-wage workers within their current occupations in rural areas. Lorin Kusmin

The State of Hired Farmworkers

A new book, The Dynamics of Hired Farm Labour: Constraints and Community Response (CABI Publishing), includes 18 chapters discussing technical change and adjustment in agriculture, hired farm labor and community response, and farmworker health and safety. This work is an outgrowth of a conference on hired farm labor and rural communities held in October 1999 and co-sponsored by ERS and The Pennsylvania State University.

Rural America, Briefly

A new report, Rural America at a Glance (RDRR-94-1), provides the most current indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas for use in developing policies and programs to assist rural people and their communities. The six-page report includes information on population trends from the recently released 2000 Census, the employment and earnings situation in 2001, and the latest poverty and food insecurity statistics. Karen Hamrick

Commodity Markets and Trade

ERS Outlook reports provide timely analysis of major commodity markets and trade, including special reports on hot topics. All reports are available on the ERS website, and include a calendar of future releases.