This paper analyzes the Agricultural Act of 2014, which was signed into law by President Obama on February 7, 2014, following a long and contentious legislative journey. The paper explains new and unique aspects of programs such as conservation; crop insurance; the farm safety net; nutrition; food aid reform; local and regional food systems; and assistance to beginning farmers. Stephanie Mercier, 12 pages. March 2014.
This report includes a thematic summary of the discussion, abstracts of the presentations, and the project descriptions from an AGree convened workshop on March 21, 2013, of leaders from a sampling of best-in-class watershed projects from across the U.S. 70 pages. July 2013.
This compilation of five papers was written by independent authors in response to a call for concept notes issued by AGree to elicit bold ideas on strengthening the U.S. public sector agricultural research system, one of AGree’s priority strategies. By Liz Carlisle, Ferd Hoefner, Ariane Lotti, Albie Miles, Meredith Niles, Juli Obudzinski, Marjorie Porter, and Steve Ventura, 82 pages. June 2013.
This report—which is based on a literature review and synthesis, as well as consultation with a diverse group of experts—summarizes the challenges of measuring environmental outcomes and reviews differing types of performance measures and their utility in measuring the effectiveness of practices, programs, and policies. The report seeks to enhance understanding of the ways in which agricultural and environmental policy might be assessed and integrated. By Sarah Bates, and Lynn Scarlett, with contributions from Matthew McKinney, Nathan Stone, and David Whisenand. 34 pages. April 2013.
This report summarizes the impact of federal farm and food programs (commonly referred to as “the farm bill”) on rural communities in the United States. The report focuses on five areas: farm commodity programs; farm risk management, insurance, and disaster programs; agricultural conservation programs; food and nutrition programs; and rural development programs. By Douglas Jackson-Smith, Jessica D. Ulrich-Schad, and Curt Grimm. 46 pages. April 2013.
The report shows how public funding for agricultural research and development (R&D) has declined markedly in recent decades. As the authors note, major competitors—most notably China—have not reduced their spending on agricultural R&D, and their agricultural productivity growth continues. The authors call for a doubling of total funding for agricultural R&D over the next 5–10 years. They cite this period as a crucial time to reposition the U.S. food and agricultural research and innovation system to address the changing scientific and market realities and note the related implications for food safety, nutrition, health, the agricultural workforce, and rural and community development. By Philip G. Pardey, Julian M. Alston and Connie Chan-Kang. 58 pages. April 2013.
Stephanie Mercier, former chief economist for the Senate Agriculture Committee summarizes the year-end Farm Bill and Fiscal Cliff. Congress voted on New Year’s Day to extend provisions of the 2008 farm bill through the end of fiscal year 2013 (FY13), September 30, 2013. This extension did not take the form developed by the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, which would have included a dairy policy reform package sought by the nation’s dairy producers, agricultural disaster assistance to help livestock and fruit and tree nut producers harmed by severe weather in 2012, and extension of most of 37 programs that were included in the 2008 farm bill but had no mandatory funding in the baseline beyond 2012. These provisions would have been paid for with a modest (2. 9 percent) cut to payment acreage for the direct payment program. By Stephanie Mercier. 3 pages. January 4, 2013
This Executive Summary examines demographic trends in rural America and implications for rural communities and policymakers alike. Overall population growth in rural America slowed precipitously in the last decade, and much of the growth that is occurring is fueled by minorities as the nation becomes increasingly diverse. Policies to address the needs of rural America must take account of both the growing diversity and regional differences in trends — some remote rural places, including traditional agricultural counties, are seeing deaths out number births, while other places are seeing retirement-driven growth or new, more diverse populations. By Kenneth M. Johnson. 7 pages. November 2012.
This document discusses current U.S. policy on providing financial and/or technical assistance to countries facing economic difficulties or natural disasters, summarizes different perspectives about the current system and suggests areas for change – including suggestions for better coordination of activities under both umbrellas to simultaneously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the U.S. response to international hunger and poverty. By Stephanie Mercier. 49 Pages. November 2012
In the coming decades, agriculture will be critical to solving some of the most pressing global problems while also needing to produce significantly more food. AGree will work to more deeply analyze trends (including increasing global demand for food, poverty, malnutrition, escalating food prices, agricultural productivity and environmental health, and others) as the basis for developing a vision for an improved food and agriculture system and aligning federal policy with this vision. This document provides a snapshot of some of these trends. 15 pages.
This piece provides a comprehensive overview of federal spending related to AGree’s three core goals, and an analysis of the distribution of benefits in order to provide important context and a shared starting point for discussion about the direction of food and ag policy. By Stephanie Mercier. 64 slides. November 2011.
This backgrounder provides a comprehensive review of the history and development U.S. Farm Programs, and details the operational mechanisms of current farm programs and the implications of those programs. By Stephanie Mercier. 57 pages. November 2011.
An analysis of U.S. agricultural initiatives that distinguishes between existing programs’ intentions and how these programs actually operate. The paper’s goal is to shed light on the need for significant changes in agricultural policy, particularly for issues related to the farm safety net. 30 pages. February 2012.
The four papers in this series describe the critical challenges AGree believes are facing the food and agriculture system. They articulate the important facts, issues, and questions that need to be addressed. 54 pages. May 2012.
This backgrounder provides a comprehensive overview of the domestic nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and National School Lunch Program, that are now the dominant components of U.S. agriculture policy from a budgetary standpoint. The origins, characteristics, and impacts of the major programs are explained, and current policy issues concerning program funding and operations are highlighted. By Stephanie Mercier. 41 pages. June 2012.
Document includes AGree’s vision for 2030, its mission, and six principles that AGree will use to guide its work. 3 pages. May 2012.
This document describes four interconnected challenges confronting the global food and agriculture system. The challenges necessitate changes in U.S. policy and demand innovative private sector and civil society actions. To address these challenges, AGree has identified a comprehensive framework of strategies that, together, address the four challenges. 33 pages. May 2012.