Current Activities

One-Stop Shopping” for Commodity Data

ERS and six other USDA agencies are cooperating to develop a web-based portal for commodity market data and information, the Commodity Market Information System (CMIS). Through CMIS, users will be able to access key data and analyses on supply, demand, and prices from several USDA agencies without having to visit each agency website separately. A prototype, expected to be rolled out by the end of 2004, will demonstrate a customer-centric approach toward searchable and user-friendly electronic access to USDA’s broad spectrum of commodity market information.

Studying the Economics of Invasive Species Management

In August 2004, ERS and the Farm Foundation co-sponsored a review of the ERS Program on the Economics of Invasive Species Management (PREISM) in Washington, DC. The objective of the meeting was to review the progress and/or preliminary results of each 2003 PREISM grant or cooperative agreement. PREISM awardees and cooperators made presentations, and several external discussants commented on each paper. Attendees included ERS researchers and representatives from a variety of Federal agencies charged with preventing, monitoring, and managing invasive species. Abstracts of the 2003 PREISM grants are posted on the ERS website.

Focusing on Variety

USDA encourages people to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables through the Food Guide Pyramid and participation in the National 5 A Day Partnership. A diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables helps one to consume a complete mix of nutrients. Using ACNielsen data, ERS researchers are investigating the factors that influence purchases of fruits and vegetables and identifying obstacles to attaining variety, such as household spending levels and other demographic characteristics. Hayden Stewart

How Do Mass Marketers Affect Food Prices?

As part of ERS’s research program on the dynamics of retail food markets, researchers from ERS and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are examining the impact of supercenters, club stores, and mass merchandisers on retail food prices. Using retail food price scanner data, MIT professor Jerry Hausman and Ephraim Leibtag measured the impact of increased market share by nontraditional retail outlets on food prices. These price changes were then used to estimate the bias in the Consumer Price Index for food eaten at home. Ephraim Leibtag

Is India a Potential Market for U.S. Agriculture?

Under the aegis of the Emerging Markets Project sponsored by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, ERS researchers have been collaborating with counterparts in several Indian institutions to study issues of mutual interest. To date, detailed studies have been completed on the Indian markets for pulses, oilseeds, and poultry. These studies generally indicate that while the domestic market is undergoing rapid structural changes, such changes do not necessarily translate into immediate increases in U.S. agricultural exports to India. Additional studies will examine the economics of plant biotechnology regulations, the implications of the removal of Multi-Fiber Arrangement import quotas on India’s textiles and apparel sector, and the prospects for improved marketing efficiency for wheat in India. Information on ERS’s program of work on Indian markets is available on the ERS web site.