Current Activities

ERS Research on Biotech Crops Informs Policies Abroad

The rate at which U.S. farmers have adopted biotech crop varieties has increased dramatically over the past 9 years. ERS research has shown that U.S. farmers are realizing tangible economic benefits from adopting these crops, such as higher yields, savings in management time, and lower pesticide costs. These and other research findings are of particular interest to countries that are designing policies related to biotech crop production and use. Recently, a delegation of senior policymakers from Turkey, hosted by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, met with ERS economists Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo and Bill Lin to learn about the economic issues related to the adoption of biotech crops by U.S. farmers. The delegation is developing new biosafety legislation for Turkey. Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo

Diverse Labor Force Attracts New Food Processing Plants

As the manufacturing sector’s share of total U.S. employment continues its historic decline, rural areas face increasingly stiff competition—from both urban and rural areas—in attracting new manufacturing plants. Thus, rural county economic planners have a keen interest in the traits of counties that have successfully attracted new manufacturing plant investment. Preliminary ERS research shows that the diversity of the labor force, whether measured by income, educational attainment, or occupation, was associated with a higher likelihood of a county’s being chosen as a site for new food processing plants. This finding was true for all counties—urban, suburban, or rural. While true for all counties, the typically more diverse urban and suburban labor forces favor nonrural counties.