Current Activities

Collaboration With the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy

In May 2004, ERS will join with the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP) to sponsor a national workshop on the links between agricultural policy and farm households and the rural economy. The workshop will broaden the information base decisionmakers have at their disposal for consideration of the next farm bill. The workshop will highlight not only the effects of farm policy on commodity production and trade but also the intended and unintended consequences of farm policy for farm households and rural America. The workshop will be held in Washington, DC, and is open to the public. Presentation materials will be available on the NCFAP website following the workshop.

Education as a Rural Development Strategy

The role of education in local, regional, and national economic development has become a central public policy issue in recent years. Rural communities view increased educational investments as a key element of economic development but are sensitive to the partial loss of their investment, as young people migrate to areas with better education and job opportunities. ERS is partnering with land-grant universities to measure the relationship between education and economic outcomes, both for the individual worker and rural community, to help local communities better target their economic development and school improvement efforts. Robert Gibbs

Economic Costs of Campylobacter

Researchers from ERS and the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) are updating estimates of the economic costs of human illness due to Campylobacter, which causes more illness than any other foodborne pathogen except Salmonella. FoodNet is a collaborative effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration, and State health departments and local investigators to measure the economic burden of foodborne illness. Foodnet has also investigated the incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a form of acute neuromuscular paralysis that can be triggered by Campylobacter infections. The Campylobacter cost estimates will be made available on the ERS website in the form of an interactive cost calculator that allows users to modify parameters of the estimate to assess changes in illness, medical costs, and other factors. Paul D. Frenzen