Publications

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  • Technological Changes in the Transportation Sector--Effects on U.S. Food and Agricultural Trade: A Proceedings

    MP-1566, October 30, 2000

    ERS sponsored a workshop, Technological and Structural Change in the Transportation Sector: Effects on U.S. Food and Agricultural Trade, March 17-18, 1999, in Washington, DC. The program's objectives were to raise awareness within ERS about the role and importance of transportation in U.S. food and agricultural trade and to discuss the need of an agency research agenda in this area. More than 60 people attended. Bob Thompson of the World Bank and Jeffrey Frankel of the Brookings Institution led with discussions about the role of transportation in the global food system and the importance of integrating geography and transportation in analysis of international trade. Other panels dealt with transportation technology, past and future, the changing policy environment for ocean shipping, logistical and technological developments aiding exports of specific commodities, including the use of supply chain management. Representatives of the Agricultural Marketing Service discussed the availability of transportation cost data, and the availability of other shipping data was discussed by representatives of the PIERS database, a product of the Journal of Commerce. Two ERS research projects were summarized, one using GTAP and another applying the gravity model to estimate the extent to which distance is less of an inhibiting factor in exporting certain U.S. agricultural exports. The administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service, the ERS associate administrator, and representatives of the Transportation Research Board, the USDA's World Board, and the Farm Foundation discussed potential ways ERS could include the transportation variable in its research. The program was cosponsored by the Farm Foundation and World Perspectives, Inc.

  • Structural Change in U.S. Chicken and Turkey Slaughter

    AER-787, November 02, 2000

    Cost function analyses using data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census reveal substantial scale economies in chicken and turkey slaughter. These economies show no evidence of diminishing as plant size increases, are much greater than those realized in cattle and hog slaughter, and have resulted in a huge increase in plant size over the 1972-92 period. The findings also suggest that consolidation in the chicken and turkey slaughter industry is likely to continue, particularly if the growth in the demand for poultry diminishes.

  • Tobacco and the Economy: Farms, Jobs, and Communities

    AER-789, November 03, 2000

    Public health policies intended to reduce the incidence of smoking-related disease adversely affect thousands of tobacco farmers, manufacturers, and other businesses that produce, distribute, and sell tobacco products. This report assesses the likely impacts of declining tobacco demand, and identifies the types of workers, farms, businesses, and communities that are most vulnerable to loss of tobacco income and jobs. The dollar impact on the farm sector of a reduction in cigarette demand will be smaller than that experienced by manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and transportation businesses, but tobacco farms and their communities may have the most difficulty adjusting. Many tobacco farmers lack good alternatives to tobacco, and they have tobacco-specific equipment, buildings, and experience. Most communities will make the transition to a smaller tobacco industry with little difficulty, because tobacco accounts for a small share of the local economy. However, a number of counties depend on tobacco for a significant share of local income.

  • Tracing the Costs and Benefits of Improvements in Food Safety

    AER-791, November 16, 2000

    The level and distribution of the costs and benefits of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulatory program for meat and poultry change dramatically once economywide effects are included in the analysis. Using a Social Accounting Matrix Model, we find that reduced premature deaths had a strong positive effect on household income, with economywide benefits almost double initial benefits. Contrary to expectations, reduced medical expenses resulted in a decrease in household income, while HACCP costs resulted in an increase. Net economywide benefits were slightly larger than initial net benefits, with poor households receiving a proportionally smaller share of the increased benefits than nonpoor because of their weak ties to the economy. Our SAM analysis provides policymakers useful information about who ultimately benefits from reduced foodborne illnesses and who ultimately pays the costs of food safety regulation. This analysis also sheds light on a number of issues central to cost-benefit analysis involving health, highlighting the danger of equating changes in income with changes in well-being.

  • Profile of Hired Farmworkers, 1998 Annual Averages

    AER-790, November 28, 2000

    An average of 875,000 persons 15 years of age and older did hired farmwork each week as their primary job in 1998. An additional 63,000 people did hired farmwork each week as their secondary job. Hired farmworkers were more likely than the typical U.S. wage and salary worker to be male, Hispanic, younger, less educated, never married, and not U.S. citizens. The West (42 percent) and South (31.4 percent) census regions accounted for almost three-fourths of the hired farmworkers. The rate of unemployment in the hired farm labor force (11.8 percent) was more than double that (4.5 percent) for all wage and salary workers. Hired farmworkers were also more likely to be paid less than the minimum wage, and to be low-wage workers. Consequently, their median weekly earnings continued to be much lower than those of all wage and salary workers. However, hired farmworkers' real median weekly earnings increased 4 percent between 1990 and 1998, while earnings for all wage and salary workers increased only 2 percent. This report examines regional and structural patterns of farm labor use, and demographic and employment characteristics of hired farmworkers, using data from the 1997 Census of Agriculture and the 1998 Current Population Survey (CPS) earnings microdata file.

  • Study of Arizona Adults Leaving the Food Stamp Program: Final Report

    EFAN-01001, December 01, 2000

    This study examined the situation of adults in Arizona who left the Food Stamp Program in 1997. Adults with dependents or a disability who did not receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) at any time during the 12 months preceding their food stamp exit showed the highest degree of self-sufficiency (independence from both public benefits and private support and higher earnings). Adults with dependents or a disability who received TANF at some time during the 12 months preceding their exit improved the most in their post-exit employment situation. Able-bodied adults without dependents and adults with dependents or a disability who received TANF showed the strongest evidence of post-exit hardship and deprivation (living with family or friends while paying no rent or partial rent, no health insurance coverage, and food insecure with moderate or severe hunger).

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program: Executive Summaries of 1998 Research Grants

    FANRR-10, December 01, 2000

    The Economic Research Service Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program (FANRP) offers a Small Grants Program designed to stimulate new and innovative research on food assistance and nutrition issues and to broaden the participation of social science scholars in these issues. ERS created partnerships with five academic institutions and research institutes in administering the program. This report presents a summary of the research findings from the first set of small grants, which were awarded in the summer and fall of 1998.

  • The Consequences of Welfare Reform and Economic Change for the Food Stamp Program--Illustrations from Microsimulation: Final Report

    EFAN-01003, January 01, 2001

    This report summarizes the results of a longitudinal microsimulation model known as MATH STEWARD that was used to explore how state welfare reform and economic changes between 1992 and 1998 might have affected the Food Stamp Program and how an economic recession might affect food stamp outcomes. Slightly over half of the reductions in FSP caseloads and costs between December 1992 and December 1998 were simulated. About one-third of the simulated reductions in caseloads and costs could be attributed to changes in state welfare and child care policies; about two-thirds could be attributed to changes in state unemployment rates. In a future recession similar to the 1990-92 recession, food stamp caseloads could increase about 11 percent and food stamp costs could increase about 13 percent.

  • Adoption of Agricultural Production Practices: Lessons Learned from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Area Studies Project

    AER-792, January 01, 2001

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture Area Studies Project was designed to characterize the extent of adoption of nutrient, pest, soil, and water management practices and to assess the factors that affect adoption for a wide range of management strategies across different natural resource regions. The project entailed the administration of a detailed field-level survey to farmers in 12 watersheds in the Nation to gather data on agricultural practices, input use, and natural resource characteristics associated with farming activities. The data were analyzed by the Economic Research Service using a consistent methodological approach with the full set of data to study the constraints associated with the adoption of micronutrients, N-testing, split nitrogen applications, green manure, biological pest controls, pest-resistant varieties, crop rotations, pheromones, scouting, conservation tillage, contour farming, strip cropping, grassed waterways, and irrigation. In addition to the combined-areas analyses, selected areas were chosen for analysis to illustrate the difference in results between aggregate and area-specific models. The unique sample design for the survey was used to explore the importance of field-level natural resource data for evaluating adoption at both the aggregate and watershed levels. Further analyses of the data illustrated how the adoption of specific management practices affects chemical use and crop yields.

  • Food Stamp Leavers in Illinois-How Are They Doing Two Years Later? Final Report

    EFAN-01002, January 01, 2001

    This study examined the situation of food stamp recipients in Illinois who left the Food Stamp Program in 1997. About half of all leavers were employed in any given month after exiting the program, and many worked in low-wage jobs. Nearly half of all leavers returned to the program, and more than half had incomes below the poverty level. One-quarter of food stamp leavers reported having fair health, and 13 percent reported poor health or other health problems. One-quarter of food stamp leavers were food insecure, with either moderate or severe hunger evident. Food insecurity was higher among able-bodied adults without dependents than among other groups of leavers. Nearly 60 percent of all food stamp leavers experienced one or more serious hardships (extreme poverty, food insecurity, treatment for substance abuse, serious illness, and health problems but no health insurance).

  • Economics of Food Labeling

    AER-793, January 25, 2001

    Federal intervention in food labeling is often proposed with the aim of achieving a social goal such as improving human health and safety, mitigating environmental hazards, averting international trade disputes, or supporting domestic agricultural and food manufacturing industries. Economic theory suggests, however, that mandatory food-labeling requirements are best suited to alleviating problems of asymmetric information and are rarely effective in redressing environmental or other spillovers associated with food production and consumption. Theory also suggests that the appropriate role for government in labeling depends on the type of information involved and the level and distribution of the costs and benefits of providing that information. This report traces the economic theory behind food labeling and presents three case studies in which the government has intervened in labeling and two examples in which government intervention has been proposed.

  • U.S. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Marketing: Emerging Trade Practices, Trends, and Issues

    AER-795, January 25, 2001

    In the past year, trade practices between fresh produce shippers and food retailers gained national attention. Shippers are concerned that recent retail consolidation has led to market power and the growing incidence of fees and services. Retailers argue that these new trade practices reflect their costs of doing business and the demands of consumers. Trade practices include fees such as volume discounts and slotting fees, as well as services like automatic inventory replenishment, special packaging, and requirements for third-party food safety certification. Trade practices also refer to the overall structure of a transaction-for example, long-term relationships or contracts versus daily sales with no continuing commitment. This study compares trade practices in 1999 with those prevalent in 1994, placing them in the broader context of the evolving shipper/retailer relationship. Most shippers and retailers reported that the incidence and magnitude of fees and services associated with transactions has increased over the last 5 years. Fees paid to retailers are usually around 1-2 percent of sales for most of the commodities we examined, but 1-8 percent for bagged salads.

  • The Road Ahead: Agricultural Policy Reform in the WTO--Summary Report

    AER-797, January 25, 2001

    Agricultural trade barriers and producer subsidies inflict real costs, both on the countries that use these policies and on their trade partners. Trade barriers lower demand for trade partners' products, domestic subsidies can induce an oversupply of agricultural products which depresses world prices, and export subsidies create increased competition for producers in other countries. Eliminating global agricultural policy distortions would result in an annual world welfare gain of $56 billion. High protection for agricultural commodities in the form of tariffs continues to be the major factor restricting world trade. In 2000, World Trade Organization (WTO) members continued global negotiations on agricultural policy reform. To help policymakers and others realize what is at stake in the global agricultural negotiations, this report quantifies the costs of global agricultural distortions and the potential benefits of their full elimination. It also analyzes the effects on U.S. and world agriculture if only partial reform is achieved in liberalizing tariffs, tariff-rate quotas (limits on imported goods), domestic support, and export subsidies.

  • Profiles of Tariffs in Global Agricultural Markets

    AER-796, January 25, 2001

    High protection for agricultural commodities in the form of tariffs continues to be the major factor restricting world trade. The large differences in average tariffs across countries make it possible for farmers in one country to benefit from tariff protection while farmers in other countries lose income because of lower prices resulting from those tariffs. This report provides the first comprehensive analysis of agricultural tariffs and tariff-rate quotas (limits on imported goods) across a large number of countries and commodities and finds that high average tariffs create barriers to markets for U.S. and other farmers.

  • Agri-Environmental Policy at the Crossroads: Guideposts on a Changing Landscape

    AER-794, January 25, 2001

    Agri-environmental policy is at a crossroads. Over the past 20 years, a wide range of policies addressing the environmental implications of agricultural production have been implemented at the Federal level. Those policies have played an important role in reducing soil erosion, protecting and restoring wetlands, and creating wildlife habitat. However, emerging agri-environmental issues, evolution of farm income support policies, and limits imposed by trade agreements may point toward a rethinking of agri-environmental policy. This report identifies the types of policy tools available and the design features that have improved the effectiveness of current programs. It provides an indepth analysis of one policy tool that may be an important component of a future policy package-agri-environmental payments. The analysis focuses on issues and tradeoffs that policymakers would face in designing a program of agri-environmental payments.

  • 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.

  • USDA Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2010

    WAOB-011, February 22, 2001

    This report provides long-run (10-year) baseline projections for the agricultural sector through 2010. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Poverty, Policy, and the Macroeconomy

    TB-1889, February 23, 2001

    This report is an empirical inquiry into how poverty is changed by the macroeconomy. The analysis suggests low real wage rates and not the unemployment rate are the most important determinant of poverty in the long run. Changes in output and unemployment primarily affect cyclical or shortrun poverty. The empirical results weaken the belief that output growth acting alone will significantly and permanently reduce poverty in the United States. Instead, the results suggest combining economic growth strategies with targeted interventions that may lie outside the traditional sphere of monetary and fiscal policy.

  • Food Security Assessment GFA12

    GFA-12, February 26, 2001

    USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) projects that average per capita food consumption for 67 low-income countries will increase in the next decade. ERS also projects that the number of people failing to meet their nutritional requirements will decline from 774 million in 2000 to 694 million in 2010, providing an improved outlook for global food security. But the gains are not uniform across countries and in many food insecurity will probably intensify. Sub-Saharan Africa, as the most vulnerable region, accounts for only 24 percent of the population of these 67 countries, but it is projected to account for 63 percent of these hungry people in 2010. HIV/AIDS is expected to reduce the region's agricultural productivity, and constraints in financial resources will limit commercial imports, thus leading to declining per capita consumption.

  • Milk Pricing in the United States

    AIB-761, February 28, 2001

    Over the past 125 years, a complex system of both public and private pricing institutions has evolved to deal with milk production, assembly, and distribution. The pricing of milk in the United States is part market-determined, and part publicly administered through a wide variety of pricing regulations. This report examines the many facets of pricing milk as it moves from the farm gate to alternative users