Publications

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  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Fiscal 1998, Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program: Description and Application Process

    AP-002, April 06, 1998

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program accepted proposals for grants and cooperative agreements for fiscal 1998. The three priority research areas were (1) Dietary and Nutrition Outcomes, (2) Food Program Targeting and Delivery, (3) Program Forecasting and Budget Analysis. This publication describes the research areas and application requirements. Funding for competitive awards in fiscal 1998 was between $2 million and $4 million. The deadline for proposal submission was June 5, 1998.

  • USDA's Healthy Eating Index and Nutrition Information

    TB-1866, May 12, 1998

    A comprehensive model is developed to measure the extent that nutrition knowledge and diet-health awareness, among other factors, influence an individual's Healthy Eating Index (HEI), USDA's measure of overall diet quality. This is the first study that rigorously attempts to examine variation in the index across population groups by controlling for personal and household characteristics and nutrition information levels, as well as test for endogeneity of nutrition information. Results indicate that one's level of nutrition information has an important influence on one's HEI and that nutrition information and the HEI are simultaneously determined. Other factors explaining variations in HEI's across individuals are income and education levels, race, ethnicity, and age. Evidence supports the hypothesis that higher education promotes more healthful food choices through better acquisition and use of health information.

  • Determinants of Financial Performance of Commercial Dairy Farms

    TB-1859, July 01, 1998

    This report uses standard econometric methods to identify important factors in financial performance of dairy farm businesses. On a per-unit-of-returns basis, factors found most important in explaining the variation in net returns per hundredweight of milk sold were cow's productivity, and per-cow forage production and purchased feed costs.

  • International Agriculture and Trade Report: China, 1998

    WRS-98-3, July 01, 1998

    The Asian financial crisis is pressuring China's economic growth this year. China's labor-intensive export goods are meeting stiff competition from other Asian economies. After averaging 11 percent annually during the past 5 years, China's GDP is expected to drop below the 8-percent target set by the government for 1998. So far, China has resisted pressure to devalue its currency and is investing in its infrastructure sector to stimulate domestic demand.

  • Retiree-Attraction Policies for Rural Development

    AIB-741, July 20, 1998

    Many rural communities have benefited from the attraction of retirees in recent years. With the baby boom generation beginning to make retirement decisions, many other rural communities might consider economic development strategies based on attracting and retaining retirees. This report reviews the literature on the impacts (both positive and negative) of retiree attraction in rural areas and indicates which places might benefit most (slow growth or declining population) and least (rapid growth) from retiree attraction. Factors indicating local potential to attract retirees include natural and manmade amenities, proximity to cities and tourism, and past record of attracting retirees. Recent State retiree-attraction initiatives are examined, such as direct State technical assistance and marketing, the use of local self-help models, targeting previous residents, and promoting the development of planned retirement communities.

  • The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997: Provisions for Farmers and Rural Communities

    AER-764, July 31, 1998

    Under the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, most farmers will pay less Federal income tax, and farm families will find it easier to transfer the family farm across generations. The new law--the tax portion of 1997 legislation to balance the Federal budget by 2002--emerges from years of debate on proposals for tax simplification, broad tax reduction, and targeted relief for capital gains and estate taxes. The legislation is expected to generate a net tax reduction of $95 billion over 5 years for all taxpayers. A number of general and targeted tax relief provisions will reduce Federal taxes significantly for farmers and other rural residents, but also will increase the complexity of both Federal income and estate taxes. Farmers are expected to save more than $1.6 billion per year in Federal income taxes and $150-200 million in Federal estate taxes.

  • International Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2007

    AER-767, August 01, 1998

    This report provides baseline projections for international supply, demand, and trade for major agricultural commodities to 2007. It is a companion report to USDA Agricultural Baseline Projections, providing the foreign country details supporting those projections. Projections of strong global economic growth, particularly in developing countries, combined with more open foreign markets and the emergence of China as a major bulk commodity importer, support strong projected gains in U.S. farm exports. The value of total U.S. agricultural exports is projected to rise from a record $57.3 billion in FY 1997 to nearly $85 billion in 2007. The projections were completed based on information available as of December 1997, and reflect a composite of model results and analyst judgment.

  • The Food Marketing System in 1996

    AIB-743, August 03, 1998

    New food product introductions fell sharply in 1996. The number of new plants, consumer advertising expenditures, and common stock prices reached new highs in 1996, as did the number of mergers in the foodservice industry. Profitability from food manufacturing and retailing was higher due to strong sales, wage and producer price stability, and streamlining of operations.

  • The Food and Fiber System: Contributing to the U.S. and World Economies

    AIB-742, August 03, 1998

    Even though farming accounts for only about 1 percent of the total national workforce, it is at the core of the food and fiber system. The system is one of the largest sectors in the U.S. economy, and is comprised of industries related to farming, including feed, seed, fertilizer, machinery, food processing, manufacturing, and exporting. The interrelationships among the sectors of the food and fiber system and the U.S. and world economies are many and complex. As a result, U.S. and world policies and economic factors--such as interest and inflation rates--play a critical role in everything from the cost and availability of farm credit to the demand for farm products at home and abroad. The farm crisis of the 1980's illustrates how specific economic events can impact the food and fiber system. In addition, long-term changes in the system have occurred in response to shifts in consumer incomes, demographics, lifestyles, and perceptions of health and diet.

  • Issues in Agricultural and Rural Finance

    AIB-724, August 21, 1998

    The Food and Rural Economics Division of ERS designed the following series of policy-oriented, timely publications to provide background and analysis for decisionmakers and others. The Federal Government is heavily involved in both public and private finance in the rural and agricultural sectors. Such involvement takes the form of lending and loan guarantees from Federal agencies, chartering special purpose lenders, providing regulation and supervision, and financing rural development and poverty programs. This series of reports focuses on current and emerging issues in agricultural and rural finance. Each report is short, nontechnical, and policy oriented, providing decisionmakers and others with timely analyses of policy proposals and emerging issues and trends.

  • Food Procurement by USDA's Farm Service Agency

    AER-766, September 01, 1998

    USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) purchases food products for distribution through several of the Department's food assistance programs. This report describes FSA purchase methods and compares them to procurement strategies used by other Federal agencies and by private sector firms. It summarizes the principal policy issues faced by FSA in designing procurement strategies. And it uses a detailed statistical analysis to compare FSA prices to those realized in the private sector, and to identify the separate effects of agricultural commodity prices, seasonality, client location, purchase volumes, product characteristics, and competition on FSA product prices.

  • Breastfeeding Promotion Research: The ES/WIC Nutrition Education Initiative and Economic Considerations

    AIB-744, September 01, 1998

    Educating low-income women about the advantages of breastfeeding their babies increases the number who breastfeed. This report summarizes the results of four projects that focused primarily on promoting breastfeeding, which is considered to be the most healthful and beneficial feeding method for most infants. Research has shown that breastfeeding improves the general health, growth, and development of infants and significantly reduces the risk of several health problems both during early life and in later years. Lower income women have been less likely to breastfeed than higher income women. One step the USDA has taken to promote breastfeeding is the ES/WIC Nutrition Education Initiative. This combines the strengths of two nutrition programs for low-income families, the Cooperative Extension System's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and the Food and Nutrition Service's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. This report shows that breastfeeding education before delivery increases the initiation of breastfeeding among low-income women. The results also indicate that breastfeeding support soon after delivery increases the duration of breastfeeding.

  • Wetlands and Agriculture: Private Interests and Public Benefits

    AER-765, September 01, 1998

    Society has recently increased the value it places on the services that wetlands provide, including water quality improvements, flood control, wildlife habitat, and recreation. However, owners of wetlands are often unable to profit from these services because the benefits created are freely enjoyed by many. This report examines differences between public and private incentives regarding wetlands. Federal wetland policy has shifted in recent decades--from encouraging wetland conversion to encouraging wetland protection and restoration--in an effort to balance public and private objectives. The report assesses the need for continued wetlands protection policies as the United States approaches achieving the goal of no net loss of wetlands.

  • Biodiesel Development: New Markets for Conventional and Genetically Modified Agricultural Products

    AER-770, September 01, 1998

    With environmental and energy source concerns on the rise, using agricultural fats and oils as fuel in diesel engines has captured increasing attention. Substituting petroleum diesel with biodiesel may reduce air emissions, increase the domestic supply of fuel, and create new markets for farmers. U.S. agricultural fats and oils could support a large amount of biodiesel, but high production costs and competing uses for biodiesel feedstocks will likely prevent mass adoption of biodiesel fuel. Higher-priced niche markets could develop for biodiesels as a result of environmental regulations. Biodiesel has many environmental advantages relative to petroleum diesel, such as lower CO, CO2, SOx, and particulate matter emissions. Enhancing fuel properties by genetically modifying oil crops could improve NOx emissions, cold flow, and oxidative stability, which have been identified as potential problems for biodiesel. Research activities need to be directed toward cost reduction, improving fuel properties, and analyzing the economic effects of biodiesel development on U.S. agriculture.

  • Issues in Rural Manufacturing: Results of the ERS Rural Manufacturing Survey

    AIB-736, October 01, 1998

    About the Survey The ERS Rural Manufacturing Survey is a nationwide study of local factors affecting the ability of manufacturers to compete in today's increasingly international economy. Telephone interviews were conducted with 2,844 rural and 1,065 urban establishments with 10 or more employees. Questions focused on technology adoption, worker skills and training, access to outside expertise, sources of capital for expansion and modernization, and government program participation. The survey is unique in the breadth of its concerns, its focus on local relations, and the size of its rural sample. The survey was designed by ERS with input from representatives of industry and the academic research community. The Social and Economic Sciences Research Center at Washington State University conducted the actual survey. The overall response rate for the survey was 69 percent. About the Series The survey results are being published in a series of eight-page issue briefs, written under the premise that awareness and understanding of the problems facing manufacturers will improve both public and private decisionmaking. While the reports may be read separately, each builds on the others so that the entire series should provide a comprehensive view of rural manufacturers and their problems and concerns.

  • Regional Trade Agreements and U.S. Agriculture: An Overview

    AIB-745, October 01, 1998

    Please also see Regional Trade Agreements and U.S. Agriculture. This report summarizes the implications of regionalism for the United States, focusing on the effects of major RTA's on U.S. agriculture. Regional trade agreements (RTA's) have become a fixture in the global trade arena. Their advocates contend that RTA's can serve as building blocks for multilateral trade liberalization. Their opponents argue that these trade pacts will divert trade from more efficient nonmember producing countries. U.S. agriculture can benefit from participating in RTA's and may lose when it does not. Agriculture is the source of most potential U.S. gains from RTA's.

  • Socio-Economic Determinants of Food Insecurity in the United States: Evidence from the SIPP and CSFII Datasets

    TB-1869, October 20, 1998

    This bulletin reports empirical findings on the determinants of food insecurity in the United States, using data from the 1989-91 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals and the 1992 Survey of Income and Program Participation. Descriptive statistics on food insufficiency status (a proxy measure for the most food-insecure households) are presented from both surveys. Multivariate logit models are used to study the effects of socio-economic characteristics on food insufficiency. Households with higher incomes, homeowners, households headed by a high school graduate, and elderly households were less likely to be food insufficient. Holding other factors constant, those in poverty were over 3.5 times more likely to be food insufficient. However, there was not a one-to-one correspondence between poverty and food insufficiency, since over 40 percent of food-insufficient households were not poor and about 10 percent of poor households were food insufficient. Food stamp benefit levels were inversely associated with food insufficiency.

  • Factors Affecting Nutrient Intake of the Elderly

    AER-769, October 21, 1998

    The rapid expansion of the population age 60 and older has a number of economic implications. The people in this group, about 18 percent of the population, account for about 30 percent of all health care expenditures. They use hospitals at nearly three times the rate of younger persons, average seven to eight medical visits per year, and occupy the majority of nursing residence beds. Providing information on the relationship of socio-economic and other factors to nutrient intake is basic to improving the health and well-being of the elderly. This exploratory investigation provides estimates of the effects of selected characteristics of the household and its constituents on individual nutrient consumption of elderly heads of households. Formal education was positively related to nutrient consumption. The elderly who live in households with income below 130 percent of the poverty level tended to have lower nutrient intakes than those elderly in households with higher incomes. Blacks, urbanites, and Southerners generally consumed less of the selected nutrients. Neither participation in the Food Stamp Program nor receipt of surplus foods was a significant factor in nutrient intake of elderly individuals. Possible nutrition interventions focus on targeted audiences and programs.

  • Regional Trade Agreements and U.S. Agriculture

    AER-771, November 02, 1998

    Regional trade agreements (RTA's) have become a fixture in the global trade arena. Their advocates contend that RTA's can serve as building blocks for multilateral trade liberalization. Their opponents argue that these trade pacts will divert trade from more efficient nonmember producing countries. U.S. agriculture can benefit from participating in RTA's and may lose when it does not. Agriculture is the source of most potential U.S. gains from RTA's. While the United States, as a global trader with diverse trade partners, can gain potentially more from global free trade than from RTA's, many recent RTA's have been more comprehensive in their liberalization of agricultural trade than the Uruguay Round. A strong multilateral process can help ensure that RTA's are trade creating, rather than protectionist. (Please also see Regional Trade Agreements and U.S. Agriculture: An Overview).

  • Free Trade in the Americas International Agriculture and Trade Report

    WRS-98-1, November 10, 1998

    An FTAA that eliminates tariffs among the 34 Western Hemisphere countries would benefit the U.S. agricultural sector and the U.S. economy as a whole--if the United States were part of the arrangement. If the other Western Hemisphere countries formed an FTAA without the United States, the impact on the U.S. agricultural sector and the general U.S. economy would be slightly negative. In either case, the expected economic impact of an FTAA on the United States would be very small in the short run (3-5 years), primarily because tariffs in the region are already relatively low and are being further reduced through bilateral and multilateral agreements.