USDA Secretary Ann Veneman recently honored several ERS researchers with the Secretary’s Honor Award.

Security Analysis System for U.S. Agriculture

In response to increased risks to the Nation’s agriculture and food supply due to bioterrorism, ERS’s Security Analysis System for U.S. Agriculture (SAS-USA) team created a unique system to quantitatively assess agriculture/ food emergencies. The team established a framework to systematically tie all food supply processes from farm production, food manufacturing, and distribution of food products to food consumption in every region of the country. To create this geographic information system, the team integrated a broad range of data from agencies within USDA and from many other Federal agencies. These data collectively describe the interdependencies among different business sectors spanning all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and about 500 U.S. ports with an unprecedented level of geographic detail. Members: David Nulph, Vincent Breneman, Greg Pompelli, Fred Hoff, Bryan McEnaney, and Amy Goldian, Patrick Canning, Paul Chan, Cory Schinkel, and Zhi Wang.

Mitch Morehart

Mitch Morehart has been a key contributor in the design and use of USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) to address the financial status of farms and the economic position of farm households. ARMS is the only annual, national-level survey of U.S. farm businesses and households, providing information about the financial condition of farms, production practices and resource-use decisions of farm operators, and the economic status of farm households. Mitch developed a unique web-based data delivery system to make ARMS data accessible to a wider audience, greatly simplifying the process of providing policymakers and other customers with timely information. His expertise on issues relating to the financial performance of farm businesses has helped both USDA and ERS to better position themselves to provide timely, accurate, and comprehensive information on farm finance and farm performance to policymakers, researchers, and other customers.

USDA Animal Waste Management Team

Structural changes in the U.S. livestock sector over the past 20 years have increased both the size and the concentration of animal feeding operations. With these increases came growing public scrutiny and concern for the potential negative effects of livestock waste on the Nation’s water resources. The Animal Waste Management Team, consisting of experts from three USDA agencies, conducted innovative and timely analysis of the economic and policy options associated with animal waste management. Co-led by representatives from ERS and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the team’s analysis informed the design of landmark USDA programs and Environmental Protection Agency regulations to protect water resources from nutrients contained in animal waste. The team’s research findings also contributed to the implementation of the conservation provisions in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 by informing the structure and expansion of USDA assistance programs to address the challenge of managing manure on working lands. Members: Vincent Breneman, Marcel Aillery, Margriet Caswell, Robert Johansson, Noel Gollehon (co-leader), and Marc Ribaudo.

Market Analysis Program Innovators Team

An entirely new market environment with new and different information needs now confronts decisionmakers, reflecting changes in the structure of domestic and global agricultural markets. Simultaneously, information technology has revolutionized the supply of market information on the Internet, vastly expanding the potential reach of ERS’s market analysis program. In cooperation with the World Agricultural Outlook Board, ERS’s Market Analysis Program Innovators Team created a program that meets user needs through web-focused distribution, customer-friendly materials, and targeted coverage of global food and agriculture product markets. Public- and private-sector decisionmakers who seek timely, insightful analysis of the forces shaping agricultural commodity market behavior now make the ERS outlook webpage their first stop. Members: Mary Maher, Leland Southard, Wynnice Pointer-Napper, Gary Lucier, and John Dyck. Allen Baker, Joy Harwood, Fannye Lockley-Jolly, Neil Conklin, Lewrene Glaser, David Johnson, Andy Kerns, Gerald Bange (World Agricultural Outlook Board), and Dennis Shields (now with Farm Service Agency).

USDA Food Security Measurement Team

In less than a decade, the U.S. household food security measure has become an important, nationally recognized research tool for evaluating Federal food assistance programs and monitoring the adequacy of food access in U.S. households. Food security—consistent access to enough food for active, healthy living—is one of several necessary conditions for a population to be healthy and well nourished. USDA’s Food Security Measurement Team, with members from ERS and the Food and Nutrition Service, spearheaded the effort to develop, assess, and improve the measure. The food security survey, first conducted as a supplement to the 1995 Current Population Survey, provided the Nation’s first nationally representative assessment of household food security and the extent of food insecurity and hunger. The annual food security survey has provided data for the Household Food Security in the United States series of reports that monitor changing food security conditions. Food security statistics based on the survey data are used by Federal agencies, State departments of human services, regional and community emergency food providers, and advocacy organizations, and are widely cited by national and local news media. Members: Steven Carlson (Food Saftey and Nutrition Service), Margaret Andrews, and Mark Nord.

Margriet Caswell

Over 90 presenters and panelists from 29 different countries participated in last year’s International Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology, held in Sacramento, California. Cosponsored by the USDA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of State, the conference convened many high-level government officials—including about 60 ministers of agriculture, 18 ministers of science and technology, and about a dozen ministers of the economy, trade or industry—to discuss how science and technology can help enhance agricultural productivity, food security, and economic growth in developing countries. As part of an interagency team led by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Margriet Caswell drafted a USDA report, 21st Century Agriculture: A Critical Role for Science and Technology, in which she framed the key issues for discussion at the conference.