Publications

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  • Assessing Potential Technical Enhancements to the U.S. Household Food Security Measures

    TB-1936, December 31, 2012

    The study assesses the extent to which USDA's measurement of household food security would be improved by one or more of five potential technical enhancements recommended by the National Academies' Committee on National Statistics.

  • 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.

  • Assessing the Growth of U.S. Broiler and Poultry Meat Exports

    LDPM-23101, November 08, 2013

    The United States is the world's second largest broiler meat exporter, and exports are a valuable source of income for the industry. ERS examines factors affecting the growth in broiler meat exports, focusing on several major markets.

  • Assessing the Healthfulness of Consumers' Grocery Purchases

    EIB-102, November 08, 2012

    Americans have a long way to go in conforming to dietary guidelines when purchasing food for home; they buy too few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and choose foods with too many fats and added sugars.

  • Assessment of WIC Cost-Containment Practices: An Interim Report to Congress

    EFAN-01005, February 01, 2001

    The William F. Goodling Child Nutrition Act of 1998 directed ERS to conduct a study to assess the impacts of WIC (USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) cost-containment practices. This Interim Report presents results from the first year of the study, including details of State WIC agencies' cost-containment practices, classification of States according to cost-containment practices, and selection of six States for case studies. The report also describes planned data collection efforts and subsequent analysis to be conducted to address the objectives specified in the legislation.

  • Assessment of WIC Cost-Containment Practices: Executive Summary

    FANRR-31, May 26, 2003

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides both nutrition education and supplemental foods containing nutrients determined by nutritional research to be lacking in the diets of pregnant, breastfeeding, and post-partum women, infants, and children. State WIC agencies have implemented practices designed to reduce the cost of food packages containing these prescribed foods. For instance, one of the WIC program's primary cost-saving practices is negotiating rebate contracts with manufacturers of infant formula. Additional practices include limiting authorized vendors to stores with lower food prices; limiting approved brands, package sizes, forms, or prices; and negotiating rebates with food manufacturers or suppliers. There is concern that these practices may inadvertently counter the program's goal of providing supplemental foods and nutrition education. Based on a review of cost-containment practices in six States, including interviews with the various stakeholders and analysis of WIC administrative files, the study draws three major conclusions: (1) cost-containment practices reduced average food package costs by 0.2 to 21.4 percent, depending on practices implemented and local conditions; (2) the cost-containment practices had few adverse outcomes for WIC participants; and (3) administrative costs of the practices were low, averaging about 1.5 percent of food package savings.

  • Assessment of WIC Cost-Containment Practices: Final Report

    EFAN-03005, February 25, 2003

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides both nutrition education and supplemental foods for pregnant, breastfeeding, and post-partum women, infants, and children. These supplemental foods contain nutrients that nutritional research has found may otherwise be lacking in the diets of WIC recipients. State WIC agencies have implemented practices designed to reduce the cost of food packages containing these prescribed foods. For instance, one of the WIC program's primary cost-saving practices is negotiating rebate contracts with manufacturers of infant formula. Additional practices include limiting authorized vendors to stores with lower food prices; limiting approved brands, package sizes, forms, or prices; and negotiating rebates with food manufacturers or suppliers. There is concern that these practices may inadvertently counter the program's goal of providing supplemental foods and nutrition education. Based on a review of cost-containment practices in six States, including interviews with the various stakeholders and analysis of WIC administrative files, the study draws three major conclusions: (1) cost-containment practices reduced average food package costs by 0.2 to 21.4 percent, depending on practices implemented and local conditions; (2) the cost-containment practices had few adverse outcomes for WIC participants; and (3) administrative costs of the practices were low, averaging about 1.5 percent of food package savings.

  • Assigning Values to Life: Comparing Methods for Valuing Health Risks

    AER-784, December 01, 1999

    An examination of five approaches economists and health policy analysts have developed for evaluating policy affecting health and safety: cost-of-illness, willingness-to-pay, cost-effectiveness analysis, risk-risk analysis, and health-health analysis. Also examines the theoretical basis and empirical application of each approach and investigates the influence that assumptions embedded in each approach have on policy guidance.

  • Asymmetric Information in the Market for Yield and Revenue Insurance

    TB-1892, April 24, 2001

    This report analyzes farmers' choice of crop insurance contracts and tests for the presence of asymmetric information in the market for multiple yield and revenue insurance products. Farmers' risk characteristics, their level of income, and the cost of insurance significantly affect their choices of yield and revenue insurance products as well as their selections of alternative coverage levels. Empirical analysis indicates that, in the presence of asymmetric information, high-risk farmers are more likely to select revenue insurance contracts and higher coverage levels. The results also indicate that premium rates do not accurately reflect the likelihood of losses, implying informational asymmetrics in the crop insurance market.

  • Atrazine: Environmental Characteristics and Economics of Management

    AER-699, September 09, 1994

    Restricting or eliminating the use of atrazine in the Midwest would have important economic consequences for farmers and consumers. Atrazine is an important herbicide in the production of corn and other crops in the United States. Since atrazine is such an important herbicide, mandatory changes in application strategies are likely to generate sizable costs for producers and consumers. However, recent findings indicate that elevated amounts of atrazine are running off fields and entering surface water resources. This report presents the costs and benefits of an atrazine ban, a ban on pre-plant and pre-emergent applications, and a targeted ban to achieve a surface water standard. A complete atrazine ban is hypothesized to be the costliest strategy, while the targeted strategy is the least costly.

  • Avian Influenza Boosted Japan’s Imports of Dried Egg Products

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2011

    ERS analysis of the effects of the 2004 outbreak of avian influenza in Japan showed evidence of a willingness of Japanese consumers to substitute processed dried egg products for fresh shell eggs. These changes in preference affect U.S. exports of shell eggs and egg products.

  • Away-From-Home Foods Increasingly Important to Quality of American Diet

    AIB-749, January 01, 1999

    The increasing popularity of dining out over the past two decades has raised the proportion of nutrients obtained from away-from-home food sources. Between 1977 and 1995, home foods significantly improved their nutritional quality, more so than away-from-home foods, which typically contained more of the nutrients overconsumed (fat and saturated fat) and less of the nutrients underconsumed (calcium, fiber, and iron) by Americans. Since the trend of eating out frequently is expected to continue, strategies to improve the American diet must address consumers' food choices when eating out. This report analyzes food intake survey data collected by USDA over the past two decades to compare the nutritional quality of home and away-from-home foods and examine how the quality has changed over time.

  • Baby Boom Migration Tilts Toward Rural America

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2009

    If baby boomers follow migration patterns similar to those of their predecessors, the rural population age 55-75 will increase by 30 percent between 2010 and 2020. Local economic development strategies aimed at attracting more jobs will likely have little effect on the migration decisions of baby boomers searching for a better quality of life.

  • Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America

    ERR-79, August 10, 2009

    If baby boomers follow past migration patterns, the nonmetro population age 55-75 will increase by 30 percent between now and 2020, with some rural communities affected more than others.

  • Bacterial Foodborne Disease: Medical Costs and Productivity Losses

    AER-741, August 01, 1996

    Microbial pathogens in food cause an estimated 6.5-33 million cases of human illness and up to 9,000 deaths in the United States each year. Over 40 different foodborne microbial pathogens, including fungi, viruses, parasites, and bacteria, are believed to cause human illnesses. For six bacterial pathogens, the costs of human illness are estimated to be $9.3-$12.9 billion annually. Of these costs, $2.9-$6.7 billion are attributed to foodborne bacteria. These estimates were developed to provide analytical support for USDA's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems rule for meat and poultry. (Note that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii is not included in this report.) To estimate medical costs and productivity losses, ERS uses four severity categories for acute illnesses: those who did not visit a physician, visited a physician, were hospitalized, or died prematurely. The lifetime consequences of chronic disease are included in the cost estimates for E. coli O157:H7 and fetal listeriosis.

  • Balancing Conservation Costs and Benefits

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    Recognizing the dearth of data concerning the installation of conservation practices on U.S. farms, ERS constructed a database using Environmental Quality Incentives Program conservation practice data. The database offers a unique opportunity to better understand the demand for conservation practices across regions, the conservation practices being funded and implemented, and the unit costs of implementing these practices.

  • Balancing Food Costs with Nutrition Goals in WIC

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    This Amber Waves article summarizes an ERS report on cost-containment practices in the WIC program, with an emphasis on case studies conducted in six states. This research was funded by the FANRP program, and was conducted by Abt Associates.

  • Balancing Nutrition, Participation, and Cost in the National School Lunch Program

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2008

    Recent reports of high rates of obesity and overweight among children have focused attention on the nutritional quality of school lunches. But this attention has raised another fundamental question: can schools meet the program’s nutrition goals while covering costs, especially in times of rising food prices? The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides federally-subsidized meals to more than 30 million children each school day. School foodservice managers say that to appeal to students and raise revenues, they need to offer less nutritious a la carte foods and vending snacks.

  • Balancing the Multiple Objectives of Conservation Programs

    ERR-19, May 31, 2006

    Many of the Nation's conservation programs use an index approach to prioritize environmental and cost objectives. In an index, objectives are weighted by relative importance. This report provides empirical evidence on the cost and environmental benefit tradeoffs of different weighting schemes in USDA's Conservation Reserve Program and considers how different weighting schemes encourage different sets of landowners to offer land for enrollment. The report finds that while small changes in index weights do not markedly affect levels of environmental benefits that can be achieved at a national level, larger changes can have a moderate impact.

  • Bank Market Structure and Local Employment Growth

    TB-1900, May 07, 2002

    Bank Market Structure and Local Employment Growth examines the relationship between measures of local bank market structure (such as the level of geographic regulation, market concentration, nonlocal bank ownership, nonlocal control of local bank deposits, and bank market concentration) and job growth is using both longrun and shortrun empirical models. Although our shortrun model provides evidence of a robust relationship between local employment growth and geographic deregulation of bank activity in the United States, overall we found only weak evidence in support of an employment growth channel linking bank structure to subsequent economic growth.