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  • Crop Genetic Resources May Play an Increasing Role in Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2015

    As agriculture adapts to climate change, crop genetic resources can be used to develop new plant varieties that are more tolerant of changing environmental conditions. The public sector plays an important role in collecting, conserving and distributing crop genetic resources, because private sector incentives for crucial parts of these activities are limited.

  • Using Crop Genetic Resources to Help Agriculture Adapt to Climate Change: Economics and Policy

    EIB-139, April 22, 2015

    Climate change will likely increase demand for more stress-resistant crop varieties. ERS reviews technical, economic, and institutional factors that could determine the extent of crop genetic resource use to find and incorporate adaptive traits.

  • Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2012

    EIB-98, August 22, 2012

    The 2012 edition provides resource-and environment-related information including farmland area, productivity, irrigation, pesticide use, adoption of genetically engineered crops, fertilizer use, conservation practices, and land retirement.

  • Agricultural Adaptation to a Changing Climate: Economic and Environmental Implications Vary by U.S. Region

    ERR-136, July 06, 2012

    ERS models the farm sector's ability to adapt to a changing climate with current practices and technology, and explores economic and environmental implications of adaptation under a range of climate change scenarios.

  • R&D and Productivity Lag in Food Manufacturing

    Amber Waves, June 05, 2012

    R&D expenditures by the global food manufacturing industry reached $11.5 billion in 2007, with the U.S. accounting for $3.1 billion of the total. However, research spending relative to the value of production in U.S. food manufacturing is relatively low, at about 1.5 percent, compared with 10 percent for total U.S. manufacturing.

  • Research Investments and Market Structure in the Food Processing, Agricultural Input, and Biofuel Industries Worldwide

    ERR-130, December 30, 2011

    ERS quantifies investment trends by for-profit companies in food manufacturing, biofuels, and agricultural input R&D and explores how the trends are affected by changes in industry structure.

  • Research Investments and Market Structure in the Food Processing, Agricultural Input, and Biofuel Industries Worldwide: Executive Summary

    EIB-90, December 30, 2011

    Meeting growing global demand for food, fiber, and biofuel requires robust investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) from both public and private sectors. This report highlights the major findings of a study examining global R&D spending by private industry in seven agricultural input sectors, food manufacturing, and biofuel and describes the changing structure of these industries. For the full report, see Research Investments and Market Structure in the Food Processing, Agricultural Input, and Biofuel Industries Worldwide, ERR-130. In 2007 (the latest year for which comprehensive estimates are available), the private sector spent $19.7 billion on food and agricultural research (56 percent in food manufacturing and 44 percent in agricultural input sectors) and accounted for about half of total public and private spending on food and agricultural R&D in high-income countries. In R&D related to biofuel, annual private-sector investments are estimated to have reached $1.47 billion worldwide by 2009. Incentives to invest in R&D are influenced by market structure and other factors. Agricultural input industries have undergone significant structural change over the past two decades, with industry concentration on the rise. A relatively small number of large, multinational firms with global R&D and marketing networks account for most R&D in each input industry. Rising market concentration has not generally been associated with increased R&D investment as a percentage of industry sales.

  • Public Research Yields High Returns... Measured in More Than Dollars

    Amber Waves, June 16, 2011

    Though standard economic approaches may be difficult to apply to evaluations of some benefits of public investments in agricultural research, economic reasoning can provide qualitative analysis even when benefits are difficult to quantify.

  • Assessing the Benefits of Public Research Within an Economic Framework: The Case of USDA's Agricultural Research Service

    ERR-95, May 07, 2010

    Evaluation of publicly funded research can help provide accountability and prioritize programs. In addition, Federal intramural research planning generally involves an institutional assessment of the appropriate Federal role, if any, and whether the research should be left to others, such as universities or the private sector. Many methods of evaluation are available, peer review-used primarily for establishing scientific merit-being the most common. Economic analysis focuses on quantifying ultimate research outcomes, whether measured in goods with market prices or in nonmarket goods such as environmental quality or human health. However, standard economic techniques may not be amenable for evaluating some important public research priorities or for institutional assessments. This report reviews quantitative methods and applies qualitative economic reasoning and stakeholder interviewing methods to the evaluation of economic benefits of Federal intramural research using three case studies of research conducted by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Differences among the case studies highlight the need to select suitable assessment techniques from available methodologies, the limited scope for comparing assessment results across programs, and the inherent difficulty in quantifying benefits in some research areas. When measurement and attribution issues make it difficult to quantify these benefits, the report discusses how qualitative insights based on economic concepts can help research prioritization.

  • Sources of Public Agricultural R&D Changing

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2007

    Explains the sources of funding for research and development at USDA, land grant universities and other state institutions.

  • Government Patenting and Technology Transfer

    ERR-15, March 02, 2006

    This report examines the use of intellectual property rights in Federal technology transfer, focusing primarily on the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS uses patenting and licensing when a technology requires additional development by a private sector partner to yield a marketable product. Licensing revenue is not a major motivation. Greater use of patenting and licensing by ARS has not reduced the use of traditional instruments of technology transfer such as scientific publication. The structure of licensing agreements affects technology transfer outcomes. Mutually advantageous revisions to license terms may at times maintain the incentives through which private companies distribute the benefits of public research.

  • Crop Genetic Diversity Boosts Production But Faces Threats

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    Crop yields have risen steadily over the last century due in part to sustained research, improvements to seeds, and access to diverse genetic resources. Crop genetic diversity, however, is threatened by habitat loss, conversion from farmer-developed varieties to scientifically bred varieties, and genetic uniformity in scientifically bred varieties.

  • Crop Genetic Resources: An Economic Appraisal

    EIB-2, May 24, 2005

    Crop genetic resources are the basis of agricultural production. However, crop genetic resources are largely public goods, so private incentives for genetic resource conservation may fall short of achieving public objectives. Within the U.S. germplasm system, certain crop collections lack sufficient diversity to reduce vulnerability to pests and diseases. This report examines the role of genetic resources, genetic diversity, and efforts to value genetic resources.

  • Plant Genetic Resources: New Rules for International Exchange

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    To make crops more resistant to pests and diseases and to improve food supply quality, quantity, and variety, modern plant breeders continually seek genetic resources from outside the stocks with which they routinely work. Since no nation has within its borders the desired spectrum of genetic resources, international collection and exchange occurs. Not all participants in this exchange, however, view the benefits as fairly balanced between donors and recipients.

  • Economic Issues in Agricultural Biotechnology

    AIB-762, March 19, 2001

    This report analyzes the economic aspects of several key areas--agricultural research policy, industry structure, production and marketing, consumer issues, and future world food demand--where agricultural biotechnology is dramatically affecting the public policy agenda.

  • Agricultural Research and Development: Public and Private Investments Under Alternative Markets and Institutions

    AER-735, May 01, 1996

    Empirical studies indicate high economic returns from the public's investment in agricultural research. Yet, even as society is placing broader demands on the research system, taxpayer support for public agricultural research is unlikely to increase. Stronger ownership rights for intellectual property have increased incentives for private investment in agricultural research, but key elements still require direct public support. The USDA is developing new mechanisms to build a more effective public-private partnership in agricultural research.