Agricultural and Rural Economic Research, Cooperative Agreements and Collaborations

 

To provide economic and other social science information and analysis for public and private decisions on agriculture, food, natural resources, and rural America. ERS produces such information for use by the general public and to help the executive and legislative branches develop, administer, and evaluate agricultural and rural policies and programs.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Active
Program Number
10.250
Federal Agency/Office
Economic Research Service, Department of Agriculture
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
B - Project Grants; L - Dissemination of Technical Information
Program Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2016 ERS research explores how investments in rural people, business, and communities affect the capacity of rural economies to prosper in the new and changing global marketplace. The agency analyzes how demographic trends, employment opportunities, Federal policies, and public investment in infrastructure and technology enhance economic opportunity and quality of life for rural Americans. Equally important is ERS’s commitment to help enhance the quality of life for the Nation’s small farmers who increasingly depend on these rural economies for employment and economic support, as well as to analyze new developments in the linkages between these farmers, consumers, and local economies. ERS continues to monitor changing economic and demographic trends in rural America, particularly the implications of these changes for the employment, education, income, and housing patterns of low-income rural populations. The rural development process is complex and sensitive to a wide range of factors that, to a large extent, are unique to each rural community. Nonetheless, ERS assesses general approaches to development to determine when, where, and under what circumstances rural development strategies will be most successful. ERS research and analysis provide insight into market conditions facing U.S. agriculture, avenues for innovation, and market expansion to help farmers and ranchers manage risk. ERS produces USDA’s estimates of farm income. In addition, the ERS program identifies and analyzes market structure and technological developments that affect efficiency and profitability, and examines developments in the linkages. The ERS climate change research program develops models and other analytical techniques to predict responses of farmers to greenhouse gas mitigation options, analyze the impact of mitigation options on domestic and global agricultural markets and land and water use, and evaluate adaptation by farmers to a new climate regime through use of alternative technologies. The ERS climate change research program builds on extensive expertise on the economics of land use and land management, technology adoption, conservation program design, economics of biofuels, and value and dissemination of public investment in research and development. In addition, ERS is continuing to contribute to USDA’s efforts to improve the science behind Federal environmental, water and air quality regulations and programs. As part of its analysis of environmental regulations and conservation incentive policies, ERS research continues to provide insight into developing policies for controlling nonpoint source pollution. More generally, ERS research analyzes the economic efficiency, environmental effectiveness, and distributional implications of alternative designs of resource, conservation, environmental, and commodity programs and their linkages. ERS conducts research on technological innovation in agriculture, the economic performance, structure and viability of the farm sector and of different types of farms, and the state of global food security. ERS effectively communicates research findings to policy makers, program managers, and those shaping the public debate. The research program identifies key economic issues and uses sound analytical techniques to understand the immediate and broader economic and social consequences of alternative policies and programs related to the sustainability and use of biotechnology in U.S. agriculture, including policies to promote trade of U.S. products. ERS has a broad program of work examining the production and marketing characteristics of the U.S. organic sector. Ongoing activities include research on the adoption of certified organic farming systems across the U.S., analysis of consumer demand and prices in specific markets, and several nationwide surveys of organic producers and markets. The ERS research program includes an ongoing assessment of global food security. ERS provides research, analysis, and information on food security, including factors affecting food production and ability to import food, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Commonwealth of Independent States to decision makers in the United States and throughout the world. An annual report provides an up-to-date assessment of global food security. ERS research on the farm and rural economy found the following: --ERS farm income indicators and forecasts measure the financial performance of the U.S. farm sector. --Farming is still an industry of family businesses. --The ERS commodity outlook program serves USDA stakeholders in the public and private sectors by delivering timely, independent and objective information about agricultural markets. --Rural child poverty rose from 19 percent in 1999 to 26 percent by 2013. --A variety of factors lead migrants to return to their rural home communities. --A disproportionately small share of grants by large foundations were disbursed to rural recipients during 2005 to 2010. ERS research and analysis of U.S. agricultural markets found the following: --Producer participation in local food systems and the value of local food sales are growing. --Most land in farms is operated by the land owner. --Mandatory price reporting for livestock transactions over the past 15 years led to some improvements in price discovery and market efficiency. --Renewable energy policies have emerged as key drivers in global markets for biofuels. --ERS estimates that the effects of recent decreases in energy prices on acreage and production are relatively small. ERS research on climate change found the following: --Climate change is likely to increase the use of genetic resources for adaptation to heat and drought stress. ERS research on conservation, water, and environmental issues found the following: --Implementation of the Evidence and Innovation Agenda continues as experiments are used to test existing and new approaches to program delivery. --ERS research examined the issues related to the declining effectiveness of glyphosate and choices for managing increased resistance to it. --The cost, biophysical impacts, and benefit valuation of wetland restoration and protection efforts vary widely from place to place, depending on a host of factors. --The 2012-2015 droughts in California are having a major impact on agriculture. A variety of mechanisms influence how those impacts are felt by farmers, crop and livestock consumers, and the food sector. ERS research on the organic sector found the following: --Organic field crops have been profitable compared with conventional field crops primarily due to the significant price premiums paid for certified organic production that more than offset the additional economic costs. ERS research on global food security found the following: --Food security is projected to improve for many developing countries. --ERS research suggests that households do not distribute calories equitably across all household members in developing countries, and that the depth of undernourishment for certain household members may be greater than traditional household consumption surveys suggest. ERS research on global agricultural markets found the following: --USDA Agricultural Projections to 2024 suggest long run increases in global consumption, world trade, and agricultural commodity prices. --The joint effects of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and tariff rate quotas maintained by the European Union (EU) significantly impede U.S. meat exports. --Easing trade and travel restrictions could stimulate increased levels and a wider variety of U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba. --China’s accumulation of large cotton stockpiles to support prices for its domestic producers from 2011-2013 has introduced a new degree of uncertainty into world cotton markets.
Fiscal Year 2017 ERS research explores how investments in rural people, business, and communities affect the capacity of rural economies to prosper in the new and changing global marketplace. The agency analyzes how demographic trends, employment opportunities, Federal policies, and public investment in infrastructure and technology enhance economic opportunity and quality of life for rural Americans. Equally important is ERS’s commitment to help enhance the quality of life for the Nation’s farmers who increasingly depend on these rural economies for employment and economic support, as well as to analyze new developments in the linkages between these farmers, consumers, and local economies. ERS continues to monitor changing economic and demographic trends in rural America, particularly the implications of these changes for the employment, education, income, and housing patterns of low-income rural populations. The rural development process is complex and sensitive to a wide range of factors that, to a large extent, are unique to each rural community. Nonetheless, ERS assesses general approaches to development to determine when, where, and under what circumstances rural development strategies will be most successful. ERS research and analysis provide insight into market conditions facing U.S. agriculture, potential avenues for innovation and market expansion, and strategies for managing risk. ERS produces USDA’s estimates of farm income. In addition, the ERS program identifies and analyzes market structure and technological developments that affect efficiency and profitability. The ERS climate change research program develops models and other analytical techniques to predict responses of farmers to greenhouse gas mitigation options, analyze the impact of mitigation options on domestic and global agricultural markets and land and water use, and evaluate adaptation by farmers to a new climate regime through use of alternative technologies. The ERS climate change research program builds on extensive expertise on the economics of land use and land management, technology adoption, conservation program design, economics of biofuels, and value and dissemination of public investment in research and development. In addition, ERS is continuing to contribute to USDA’s efforts to improve the science behind Federal environmental, water and air quality regulations and programs. As part of its analysis of environmental regulations and conservation incentive policies, ERS research continues to provide insight into developing policies for controlling nonpoint source pollution. More generally, ERS research analyzes the economic efficiency, environmental effectiveness, and distributional implications of alternative designs of resource, conservation, environmental, and commodity programs and their linkages. ERS conducts research on technological innovation in agriculture, the economic performance, structure and viability of the farm sector and of different types of farms, and the state of global food security. ERS effectively communicates research findings to policy makers, program managers, and those shaping the public debate. The research program identifies key economic issues and uses sound analytical techniques to understand the immediate and broader economic and social consequences of alternative policies and programs related to the sustainability and use of biotechnology in U.S. agriculture, including policies to promote trade of U.S. products. ERS has a broad program of work examining the production and marketing characteristics of the U.S. organic sector. Ongoing activities include research on the adoption of certified organic farming systems across the U.S., analysis of consumer demand and prices in specific markets, and surveys of organic producers and markets. The ERS research program includes an ongoing assessment of global food security. ERS provides research, analysis, and information on food security, including factors affecting food production and ability to import food, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Commonwealth of Independent States to decision makers in the United States and throughout the world. ERS is also investigating conceptual and measurement challenges inherent in assessments of undernourishment at the country, household, and individual level with experts in academia and international organizations. An annual report provides ERS’ up-to-date assessment of global food security.
Fiscal Year 2019 ERS conducts research that strengthens the understanding of American farms, the agricultural sector, and rural communities. This includes analysis of commodity markets, the competitiveness of U.S. farms at home and abroad, and the health of the rural economy. ERS research and analysis provides insights into market conditions facing U.S. agriculture, potential avenues for innovation and market expansion, and the effects of farm policies. The agency conducts research on the effects of new agricultural technologies and practices on farm business and sector performance as well as their implications for the changing size and organization of U.S. farms. ERS produces USDA’s estimates of farm business and farm household income and identifies and analyzes market structure and technological developments that affect farm efficiency and profitability. ERS research and analysis also provides insights into how the agricultural sector is evolving in both the short and long term. ERS’s ongoing Commodity Outlook and Cost of Production programs address the impacts of market factors impacting supply, demand, prices, and costs and returns of agricultural commodities. • The Commodity Outlook program produces monthly outlook reports and research results for over 25 commodities, including most of the major U.S. crop, livestock, dairy, and poultry commodities. Bi-annual analysis is produced for over 150 additional commodities. • Cost of Production analysts produce annual estimates for 12 major crop, livestock, and dairy commodities and conduct research on the factors impacting commodity costs and returns. • This foundational work enables ERS to provide quick analysis for USDA leadership and Congress, and statistical data and analysis to inform decision makers in the public and private sectors. Selected Examples of Recent Progress: • Farm income indicators and forecasts measure the financial performance of the U.S. farm sector. ERS provides authoritative information on the financial health of the farm sector, including the performance of farm businesses and well-being of farm households. In the most recent statement, ERS forecasted a 13 percent decline in 2018 net farm income relative to 2017 estimates. Over the same time period, the median income of farm operator households is expected to decline less than one percent. Published three times a year, these core statistical indicators provide guidance to policy makers, lenders, commodity organizations, farmers, and others interested in the financial status of the farm economy. ERS’s farm income statistics also inform the computation of agriculture’s contribution to the gross domestic product for the U.S. economy in the Bureau of Economic Analysis statistics for Gross Domestic Product. • Farms and farm households were expected to see lower tax rates regardless of size or commodities grown. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 made significant changes to the Federal income tax system, including individual and business income tax rates, business expenses, taxable income deductions, and the alternative minimum tax. The TCJA also doubled the Federal estate tax exclusion. An ERS report examined changes in the average effective tax rate of family farm households as a result of the new law, finding that average tax rates are estimated to decline across all farm sizes and commodity specializations. Declines were greatest for midsize and large farms. The tax analysis results were presented to the Secretary’s office and other policy and decision makers. • Farmland appreciation from 2000-2015 lowered the share of financially stressed farms. Farm real estate values reached record highs in recent years, more than doubling from $1,483 per acre in 2000 to $3,060 per acre in 2015. ERS analysis shows that the likelihood of financial stress fell most among those who owned less than one-quarter of their acres operated. Also, farms in the Heartland that owned at least 50 percent of their cropland acres—disproportionately operated by older, more experienced farmers—borrowed more and purchased more land during periods of high appreciation and land equity gains. Thus the gradual transfer of land between generations from more experienced to less experienced operators may slow during periods of rapid appreciation, while young and beginning farmers may find it easier to purchase land when land prices level out or decline. • Changing farm structure has led to changes in the distribution of income support over time. An ERS study tracked the effect of changes in farm structure on the allocation of direct financial assistance from commodity, conservation, and Federal crop insurance programs from 1991 through 2015. The study found that commodity program payments, some conservation program payments, and Federal crop insurance indemnities have shifted to larger farms as U.S. agricultural production continues to consolidate. Since the operators of larger farms have higher household incomes than those of smaller farms, commodity program payments and support through Federal crop insurance have also shifted to higher-income households. The authors briefed OSEC and House Agriculture Committee staff. The report has been cited in numerous trade and national media sources as well as by members of the Senate Ag Committee. • Agricultural production has shifted to much larger farming operations over the last three decades, even as the number of very small farms grows. Based on detailed farm-level data, an ERS report measured trends in consolidation and tracked developments in farm-level specialization as well as the organization of farming businesses. Consolidation of production and acreage into larger farms has been persistent, widespread, and pronounced in crop production. Structural change has been quite dramatic in some livestock commodities—such as dairy, egg laying, and hogs—but consolidation has been modest or nonexistent in pasture/grazing land and in the associated cow-calf sector. The long-term shifts toward agricultural consolidation have occurred in tandem with a shift toward greater farm specialization. Despite increased consolidation, most production continues to be carried out on family farms. The findings were presented at several USDA briefings, a USDA blog, and covered by media including the Wall Street Journal, NPR, the Farm Journal, Successful Farmer, and other outlets. • Many more farm households show positive economic returns to farming when tax benefits and asset appreciation are considered. A farm’s financial performance is commonly measured by net farm income, net cash farm income, and the farm household’s income or loss from the farm business. An ERS report examined returns to farming from a broader economic perspective, which also considers tax-loss benefits (such as the ability to write off farm business losses against other household income) from farming and appreciation in the value of farmland assets. In 2015, 43 percent of U.S. farm households earned positive income from farming. Meanwhile, average farm real estate values increased nearly every year from 1990 to 2015. When tax-loss benefits and the estimated appreciation in farmland values are considered, the share of farm households with positive returns from their farm operation increased to about 70 percent. Findings were also reported in multiple media outlets. • The ERS Commodity Outlook Program serves USDA stakeholders in the public and private sectors by delivering timely, independent and objective information about agricultural markets. The Commodity Outlook Program reports and data products are among ERS’s most widely used and ERS is committed to maintaining a strong and vibrant commodity outlook program. In 2018, ERS continued to focus on improving the user experience and accessibility to its data products, including greater use of data visualizations and machine readable files for Commodity Costs and Returns, Domestic Livestock Data, and Vegetable and Pulses Supply and Use Data. ERS also continues to implement a strategic plan focused on the actions necessary to strengthen this program; additional enhancements to the content and communication of commodity outlook materials including new visualizations for vegetable, pulses and rice; and implementing internal data and process improvements to provide high quality data in formats requested by users. • A variety of risk management programs are available to help crop and livestock producers mitigate losses to their income due to yield and price risk. ERS researchers examined the landscape of risk management programs, the rules governing eligibility, the formulas that determine payments, and the effects of programs on both farm producers’ revenues and changes in those revenues. Using historical data as well as simuŹlations, ERS illustrated the range of outcomes possible under different conditions, poliŹcies, and coverage levels, offering insights into the scope and depth of risk management programs available to producers. The goal of the analysis was to provide information about the current set of programs and the environment in which producers operate for decision makers involved in the 2018 Farm Bill policymaking process. • Rural America’s economy continues to experience increased employment but post-recession recovery lags that of urban areas. ERS provides up-to-date information on rural economic and demographic trends in an annual series, Rural America at a Glance. The latest report noted that the rural economy continues to recover from the Great Recession but more slowly than urban economies. For rural areas as a whole, employment has increased modestly since 2011 and median incomes are rising once again. Nonetheless, rural employment has not returned to its pre-recession level, and job growth since 2011 has been well below the urban growth rate. Rural poverty rates remain higher than in urban areas, especially in the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, and the Rio Grande Valley. Meanwhile, the rural population loss earlier in the decade may have ended, with signs of population recovery in many parts of rural America in 2015-16. The findings were communicated via a webinar and in briefings to senior USDA policy makers. • ERS-sponsored workshop highlighted new research on economic returns to infrastructure investment. USDA is placing renewed priority on meeting the infrastructure needs of rural industries and residents to promote economic development and a higher quality of life. In April 2018, ERS and the Farm Foundation cosponsored a national conversation in Washington, DC to explore how rural infrastructure investments impact economic activity. The more than 110 workshop participants included experts and leaders from universities, government, international development organizations, communities, and the private sector. Research presented at the workshop will be published in peer-reviewed journals and reports and will contribute to future policy discussions about rural infrastructure investment strategies. • Positive effects of Value Added Grants Program on rural business survival and growth. A recent ERS report assessed the impact of Rural Development’s Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program on the survival and employment growth of recipient businesses, outcomes that are related to the program goals of saving and creating jobs. The study found that businesses that received VAPG grants between 2001 and 2013 were less likely to have failed 6 years after receipt than similar businesses that did not receive grants, and larger VAPG grants had a larger impact on business survival. The grants also enabled recipients to employ more workers than similar non-recipient businesses; employment impacts were estimated to be 40 jobs per $1 million of grants. While some of the impact may be due to other assistance, VAPG may have played a catalytic role in leveraging sources of financial capital. The report’s findings were also presented in Amber Waves, a Chart of Note, and multiple briefings to policy officials in USDA and Congress. • Rural healthcare employment growth lags the Nation’s and shows modest local impact. The healthcare industry is growing faster than any other U.S. industry and is projected to add the most jobs of any industry by 2024. A recent ERS report analyzed trends in rural employment shares in inpatient healthcare between 2001 and 2015, and estimated the multiplier effect of rural inpatient healthcare facility jobs. The study found that rural healthcare employment has not kept pace with national trends, experiencing a 2 percent decline from 2011 to 2015. Inpatient healthcare facilities experienced modest employment gains in rural counties from 2001 to 2015. For rural areas as a whole, the gains did not generate additional local employment beyond employees in those facilities; among metropolitan counties, which are more urbanized than other rural counties, multiplier effects were slightly larger. • Rural residents were less likely than urban residents to engage in telehealth activities. The benefits of telehealth—health services or activities conducted via phone, Internet, and other technologies—may be greater in rural areas, where remoteness and provider shortages may make accessing health care more difficult for rural residents. Using detailed 2015 household data, ERS analysis shows that telehealth activities were less frequent in rural areas among consumers 15 years and older. The online activities studied include health research; health maintenance (communication with health providers, including communicating with medical practitioners, maintaining records, and paying bills); and health monitoring via devices that exchange data remotely with medical personnel. Engagement in telehealth activities was higher among those with more education. • A new survey of irrigation organizations will provide a foundation for understanding local irrigation decisions and their impact on drought resilience. Increasing demands for limited water resources, and concerns for agricultural drought resilience under heightened water scarcity, has prompted renewed interest in water data development at the agricultural district scale. Working with partners both inside and beyond USDA, ERS is developing a national survey of irrigation organizations to provide the first updated dataset of local water-supply management entities since the 1978 Census of Irrigation Organizations. This initiative builds on ERS research collaborations addressing regional groundwater management—including managed aquifer recharge in California’s Central Valley and the Lower Mississippi alluvial aquifer, and groundwater sustainability in the High Plains. Survey findings and supporting geodatabase will inform future research efforts as well as an array of Federal and State program activities. A draft survey questionnaire and survey pre-testing are underway FY 2019. • Conservation tillage practices vary widely across crops and regions. Reducing tillage and increasing soil cover of farm fields can enhance soil health and lead to improved agricultural productivity, greater drought resilience, and better environmental outcomes. ERS researchers used field-level data to estimate tillage, residue and cover practice adoption. Almost 50 percent of corn, soybean, wheat, and cotton acreage was in no-till or strip-till at some time over a 4-year period but only about 20 percent of these acres were in no-till or strip-till all 4 years. For individual crops, the rate of no-till varies by region. Adoption of residue and cover practices also varies across crops and, to some extent, across tillage practices. • Simulated strategies for cost-effective nutrient reductions in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin involve a mix of practices. The Gulf of Mexico’s summer hypoxic zone, extending up to nearly 6,000 square miles, is fueled by nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB), a region with 73 percent of U.S. cropland. A recent ERS report assessed the most cost-effective way of achieving a 45 percent reduction in cropland nutrient loads to the Gulf, which would significantly reduce the average size of the hypoxic zone. The study found that reductions are achievable using a mix of strategies, including on field management practices, off-field practices such as wetlands and buffers, a shift in crops, and cropland retirement. Meeting the intended goal of reducing nutrient discharge, regardless of region of origin, focuses efforts in the Lower Mississippi sub-basin. A broader approach that requires regional nutrient reductions to be proportional to baseline contributions to the Gulf runoff spreads the conservation effort more widely across the MARB. Adopting such practices to meet water quality goals also increases commodity prices, resulting in more intensive production outside the MARB, and increased nutrient and sediment loadings to water in other watersheds. Briefings were provided to the Hypoxia Task Force Coordinating Committee and the FPAC Under Secretary. • Most farm operators and landlords do not own the oil and gas rights associated with their land. With the shale revolution, oil and gas production in the United States grew by 69 percent from 2005 to 2014, and almost 67 percent of the production occurred on farmland in 2014. ERS research examined the extent to which farm operators and landlords own the rights to the oil and gas beneath their land, which affects their ability to benefit financially from development and to shape the terms on which it occurs. In the counties with oil and gas production in 2014, only 13 percent of non-operator landlords and 10 percent of farm operators (including both owner-operators and renters) reported receiving payments from gas or oil production. Recipients owned $32.9 billion in oil and gas rights that generated $7.4 billion in payments through leases with energy firms—almost 17 percent of total net cash farm income for operators and non-operator landlords with land in these counties. The ERS report was cited in a number of media outlets. • Despite higher winter loss rates, U.S. honey bee colony numbers have remained stable or risen since 1996. Recent ERS research provided an overview of the pollination services market and the mechanisms by which beekeepers, farmers, and retail food producers adjust to increasing scarcity in the pollination services market. It also examined the evidence on pollinated crop production, pollination service fees, and annual numbers of honey bee colonies. Among pollinated crops, almonds and plums have had the largest increases in pollination service fees, rising about 2.5 and 2.4 times, respectively, in real (inflation-adjusted) terms since the early 1990s. For other pollinated crops, pollination service fees have risen at an average annual rate of 2-3 percent, and have not shown a marked increase since Colony Collapse Disorder appeared in 2006. This research was featured in a briefing to REE leadership and Office of the Chief Scientist, enabled ERS to respond to USDA and Congressional requests about pollinator markets and research, and has received substantial press coverage. • Global agricultural trade, about $1 trillion in 2014, has risen 3.6 percent per year for the last two decades, facilitated by technological change, productivity gains, and trade liberalization. ERS research surveyed 20 years (1995-2014) of trends in world agricultural trade and summarizes key policy issues that will confront decision makers and shape agricultural trade in the coming years. Growth occurred across all major categories, with trade in oilseeds/oilseed products growing fastest; however, growth in trade across countries and regions was uneven. Agricultural exports by the five BRIIC (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia and China) countries grew much faster than the global average. Agricultural imports of emerging economies grew quickly, dominated by growth in China’s imports; while Europe’s agricultural imports grew much more slowly. The research showed that in general a country’s tariffs tend to be higher for imports that compete with domestic products, and additional duties can be applied for limited periods and in certain circumstances. The research also found that the amount of agricultural domestic support has remained about the same (or fallen) since the URAA for developed countries. Major emerging economies, however, have increased the support they provide to farmers, and recent emphasis on support for agriculture is a sharp departure from earlier policies in some of these countries that implicitly taxed agriculture. This report won the profession’s (AAEA) highest award for Quality of Communication in 2018. It was a key-note presentation at the U.S. Agricultural Exports Development Council’s annual meeting in Baltimore. In addition, ERS provided trade analysis and briefings solicited by OSEC, FAS/OCE, and the Under Secretary for Trade & Foreign Agricultural Affairs on the economic impacts of potential trade agreements and tariff changes. • While the United States is one of the largest suppliers of China’s agricultural imports, it has not been a major target of Chinese agricultural investment. Chinese companies are increasing their investments in foreign agricultural and food assets. Their broad aims are to gain profits for Chinese investors while achieving national food security. ERS research has explored Chinese agricultural investment trends to improve understanding of these ventures, their size and impacts for government and business decision makers. Apart from the large 2013 acquisition of Smithfield Foods, relatively little Chinese investment has targeted U.S. agriculture. Statistics for 2014 show that North America received only 2 percent of China’s farming, forestry, and fishing investment, the smallest share of any continent. Statistics tracking foreign farmland holdings in the United States show 12-to-25 Chinese acquisitions annually during 2008-13. Chinese investors tend to enter less-developed counŹtries where there are few competitors, potential to raise productivity using Chinese techŹnology, and potential to diversify suppliers of Chinese imports. A few companies with access to financing from Chinese banks are pursuing mergers, acquisitions, and partnerŹships with companies in more developed markets; most ventures have modest impacts on agricultural trade. This research has been featured in briefings to USDA leadership and offices including the Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Office of the Chief Economist and General Counsel’s Office; also, the broader foundational research portfolio on the economics of China’s food and agriculture enabled ERS to provide Congressional testimony. • Imports will be necessary to meet China’s growing demand for dairy products. ERS research examined trends in China’s dairy consumption, production and trade, and analyzed the extent to which future dairy demand would likely be met with domestic or foreign-sourced dairy. Chinese consumption of dairy products is growing rapidly from a historically low base, and China is the primary source of demand growth in global dairy markets. The Chinese government projected that dairy product consumption would grow over 27 percent during 2016-26, with imports rising 50 percent. The European Union and New Zealand are the leading dairy exporters to China; U.S. competitiveness in this market is challenged in part by unfavorable exchange rates. Chinese overseas investments in dairy production and trade are mainly in New Zealand and Australia. • Food security is projected to improve for many developing countries. ERS publishes the International Food Security Assessment to inform U.S. policymakers as well as international donor organizations of the food security situation in 76 low- and middle-income countries. The report provides projections of food demand and access based on ERS’s food security model, which allows for analysis of income and price changes on food security. Results were also presented in a well-received webinar and discussed by major press publications such as the WSJ. Given projections for ongoing low food prices and rising incomes, the 2018 report projects food security for most countries in the study to improve through 2028, with food insecurity rates falling from 21 percent in 2018 to 10 percent in 2028. Food-insecure people are defined as those consuming less than the nutritional target of roughly 2,100 calories per day per person. Despite improvements over the years, Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to remain the most food-insecure region in the world. The report was featured in a blog by IFPRI and there was substantial media pick-up of the results. • The 2014-15 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak had substantial impacts on the U.S. poultry sector, with differing impacts by particular commodities. ERS research examines market impacts of the HPAI outbreak, to inform ongoing efforts by USDA to continuously improve policy and planning for future potential outbreaks. This report found the U.S. poultry sector may be able to recover quickly from production losses from disease events, but other market impacts—such as trade losses and price instability—can persist. Also, disease events can result in disparate impacts across the poultry sector. Affected turkey and egg producers lost significant numbers of birds while egg and turkey producers who were not affected received the benefit of higher prices in the short run without bearing any of the high cost incurred by those directly affected. In addition, disease events can impact related industries even if the disease has no direct effect. The broiler industry lost less than 0.01 percent of its U.S. inventory to HPAI, yet the threat of potential infection was the basis of trade restrictions that contributed to much lower 2015 and 2016 broiler prices compared to pre-outbreak levels. These results were featured in a briefing to Administrators in USDA’s Research, Extension and Education Mission Area.
Authorization
FY 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, Public Law 109-97, 7 U.S.C. 292, 411, 427, 1441a, 1621-1627, 1704, 1761-68, 2201, 2202, 3103, 3291, 3311, 3504; 22 U.S.C. 3101; 42 U.S.C. 1891-93; 44 U.S.C. 3501-11; 50 U.S.C. 2061 et seq, 2251 et seq., 2 CFR Part 400, 2 CFR Part 415, 2 CFR Part 416, 7USC 3318b.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Any individual or organization in the U.S. and U.S. Territories is eligible to receive the popular or technical research publications that convey the research results, although there may be a fee.
Beneficiary Eligibility
Any individual or organization in the U.S. and U.S. Territories is eligible to receive the popular or technical research publications that convey the research results, although there may be a fee.
Credentials/Documentation
Not applicable.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is not applicable.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Requests for technical information may be made to the Chief, Publishing and Communications Branch, Economic Research Service (ERS), 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Mailstop 1800, Washington, DC 20520-1800.
Award Procedure
None.
Deadlines
Not applicable.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Not applicable.
Appeals
Not applicable.
Renewals
Not applicable.
How are proposals selected?
Not applicable.
How may assistance be used?
ERS performs economic research and analyses related to U.S. and world agriculture that address a multitude of economic concerns and decision making needs of Federal, State, and local governments, farmers, farm organizations, farm suppliers, marketers, processors, and consumers. There are no restrictions on the use of ERS produced information.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Reporting
Not applicable.
Auditing
N/A
Records
Financial records, supporting documents, statistical records, and all other records pertinent to an award shall be retained for a period of 3 years from the date of submission of the final expenditure report or, for awards that are renewed quarterly or annually, from the date of the submission of the quarterly or annual financial report, as authorized by the Federal awarding agency.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formula is not applicable to this assistance listing.

Matching requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.

MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
None None
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
None/Not specified.
Headquarters Office
Nancy A. Thomas
355 E Street SW, Room 5-254
Washington, DC 20024-3231 US
NThomas@ers.usda.gov
Phone: 2026945008
Website Address
http://www.ers.usda.gov
Financial Information
Account Identification
12-1701-0-1-352
Obligations
(Project Grants) FY 18$180,000.00; FY 19 est $75,000.00; FY 20 est $75,000.00; FY 17$200,000.00; FY 16$874,710.00; - (Cooperative Agreements) FY 18$2,074,304.00; FY 19 est $647,499.00; FY 20 est $647,000.00; FY 17$1,500,000.00; FY 16$1,415,313.00; -
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Not applicable/available.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Not applicable.
Examples of Funded Projects
Fiscal Year 2016 ERS will identify key economic issues related to rural economic development, farm viability, rural household prosperity and well-being, and competitiveness. ERS will use sound analytical techniques to understand the immediate and broader economic and social consequences of how alternative policies and programs and changing market conditions affect rural and farm economies and households. ERS will effectively communicate research results to policy makers, program managers, and those shaping the public debate on rural economic conditions and performance of all sizes and types of farms. ERS will identify key economic issues related to interactions among natural resources, environmental quality, and the agriculture production system. ERS also will use sound analytical techniques to understand the immediate and broader economic and social consequences of alternative policies and programs to protect and enhance environmental quality associated with agriculture. ERS research analyzes the economic effects and cost effectiveness of resource, conservation, environmental, and commodity programs and their linkages. Topics include USDA's conservation programs and environmental policies addressing water and air quality and climate change associated with agricultural production. ERS will effectively communicate research results to policy makers, program managers, and those shaping public debate on agricultural resource use and environmental quality. ERS will identify key economic issues related to the competitiveness and sustainability of rural and farm economies, including economic factors guiding the development and adoption of new technologies and production systems to support food security and trade. These activities include the following: • ERS supports the USDA Biotechnology Coordinating Council and interdepartmental efforts with the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency through research that addresses impacts for farmer and industry behavior. Research and related data collection efforts are designed to capture the broad effects of this technology. • ERS provides important information on changes in production technology of food production and adoption of new agricultural inputs and practices that have significant implications for the way in which the Nation’s food supply is produced. • ERS develops and disseminates research and analysis on the U.S. food and agriculture sector’s performance in the context of increasingly globalized markets. Key emphasis areas include regional free trade agreements, domestic policy reforms, and the principal drivers of structural changes in global supply and demand. • ERS produces an annual assessment of the prevalence and depth of food security in 76 developing and transition countries. ERS will expand public access to the data and model used to conduct this analysis by making the full database and several country models available on its website. In addition, ERS is developing new model capabilities, including the ability to assess the impact of changes in food prices, which will make the model capable of addressing all four dimensions of food security—availability, access, utilization and stability. --Enhancement of procedures and documentation of farm sector forecasts & estimates& implementation of new imputation methods for missing data --Food Security Model Development: Improving income response and food production projections --Towards an Understanding of Supply Chains in Agriculture --Towards a Computable General Equilibrium Model for the Analysis of Agricultural and Agriculture---Related Employment Issues --The Food Insecurity Experience Scale and Household/Individual Correlates of Food Insecurity --CPR Land Management and Pollinator Health --The Ag Econ Scholars Mentoring Program --Has the Industrialization of Livestock Marketing Shielded U.S. Livestock Prices from Global Shocks? --Fruit and Vegetable Data Automation --Commodity Data System and Lifecycle Development --Case Studies Assessing the Readiness of an Challenges for the Mexican Produce Industry in Relation to the Food Safety Modernization Act --Foodborne Illness Outbreaks, Collective Reputation, & Voluntary Adoption of Industry-wide Food Safety Protocols by Fruit Vegetable Growers --Income and Experimental Food Security --An Assessment of Differential Item and Person Functioning Between Males and Females Using the Food Insecurity Experience Scale --Exploring Migration & Food Insecurity Relationship: New Evidence from the Food & Agriculture Organization's Food Insecurity Experience Scale --Exploring Grocery Retailer Food Safety Standards for Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Suppliers --Price Determination and Margin Volatility in Thinly Traded Commodity Markets --Improving and Expanding Food Price Forecasts at ERS --New Imputation Procedures for the Agricultural Resource Management Survey --Farm Risk Management. The Economics of Risk Management in Agriculture: Improving Our Understanding of How Farmers Manage Their Risk Exposure --Advanced Computational Methods using GAMS --Resilience to the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty --Hydrology and Agriculture --Improving Imputation Methodology in the ARMS Household Section --Enhancement of procedures and documentation of U.S. State-level Agricultural Productivity Accounts --Competition for Water from Farmers and Energy Companies: The Importance of Water Rights --Understanding the Geography of Stress-Related Mortality in the U.S., with a focus on Opiate Addiction and Drug Overdose Mortality --Land Tenure and Oil and Gas Development --Private Agricultural R & D in India --Scenarios of Global Diets and the Impact on Land and Water Resources --Economic Impacts of Food and Drug Administration Veterinary Feed Directive Rules on Beef Cattle Sector --Conference on Environmental Economics and Policies --Workshop on Water Resources & Policy --Economic Effects of Changing Antibiotic Use Preferences in U.S. Livestock Production --Rural Employment Sustainability and Establishment Dynamics --AgEcon Search --C-FARE 2016 Education & Outreach Programs --AAEA Professional Development Activities --International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium (IATRC) --Economic Evaluation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) --Effect of Non-monetary Incentives on Phosphorus Use and Conservation Program Participation: A randomized Controlled Trial --Enhancing enrollment of leased land in agri-environmental programs: an investigation of the Conservation Stewardship Program in Kansas --Agricultural Productivity
Fiscal Year 2019 The Economic Research Service (ERS) anticipates trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America and conducts high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making. As a Federal Statistical Agency, ERS provides timely, objective data on the well-being of America’s farmers, consumers, natural resources, and rural communities. Economic Research and Analysis Program Enhance competitiveness for American farms, agriculture, and rural communities Current Activities: ERS conducts research that strengthens the understanding of American farms, the agricultural sector, and rural communities. This includes analysis of commodity markets, the competitiveness of U.S. farms at home and abroad, and the health of the rural economy. ERS research and analysis provides insights into market conditions facing U.S. agriculture, potential avenues for innovation and market expansion, and the effects of farm policies. The agency conducts research on the effects of new agricultural technologies and practices on farm business and sector performance as well as their implications for the changing size and organization of U.S. farms. ERS produces USDA’s estimates of farm business and farm household income and identifies and analyzes market structure and technological developments that affect farm efficiency and profitability. ERS research and analysis also provides insights into how the agricultural sector is evolving in both the short and long term. ERS’s ongoing Commodity Outlook and Cost of Production programs address the impacts of market factors impacting supply, demand, prices, and costs and returns of agricultural commodities. • The Commodity Outlook program produces monthly outlook reports and research results for over 25 commodities, including most of the major U.S. crop, livestock, dairy, and poultry commodities. Bi-annual analysis is produced for over 150 additional commodities. • Cost of Production analysts produce annual estimates for 12 major crop, livestock, and dairy commodities and conduct research on the factors impacting commodity costs and returns. • This foundational work enables ERS to provide quick analysis for USDA leadership and Congress, and statistical data and analysis to inform decision makers in the public and private sectors. Analysis of the major factors driving the outlook for agricultural commodity markets plays a central role in supporting USDA’s World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), which serves as the benchmark for information on major global commodities. Each year ERS also coordinates the USDA's Baseline projections for U.S. and world agriculture for the coming decade. The 2018 long-term projections were presented at the 2017 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum, and helped shape planning for the Federal budget. The Projections have long supported FSA’s estimation of budget costs for farm program commodities. In addition to its importance for USDA’s policymakers, the annual Baseline projections report and related data products are essential references for public and private decision makers. In addition, ERS has briefed FSA on recent modeling, and provided FSA with price series estimates that are slated to be used in calculating commodity support costs in FSA’s budget request. ERS’s rural research explores how investments in businesses, communities, and people affect the capacity of rural economies to prosper in a changing global marketplace. The agency analyzes how employment opportunities, Federal policies, demographic trends, and public investment in infrastructure and technology enhance economic opportunity and quality of life for rural Americans. Selected Examples of Recent Progress: • Farm income indicators and forecasts measure the financial performance of the U.S. farm sector. ERS provides authoritative information on the financial health of the farm sector, including the performance of farm businesses and well-being of farm households. In the most recent statement, ERS forecasted a 13 percent decline in 2018 net farm income relative to 2017 estimates. Over the same time period, the median income of farm operator households is expected to decline less than one percent. Published three times a year, these core statistical indicators provide guidance to policy makers, lenders, commodity organizations, farmers, and others interested in the financial status of the farm economy. ERS’s farm income statistics also inform the computation of agriculture’s contribution to the gross domestic product for the U.S. economy in the Bureau of Economic Analysis statistics for Gross Domestic Product. • Farms and farm households were expected to see lower tax rates regardless of size or commodities grown. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 made significant changes to the Federal income tax system, including individual and business income tax rates, business expenses, taxable income deductions, and the alternative minimum tax. The TCJA also doubled the Federal estate tax exclusion. An ERS report examined changes in the average effective tax rate of family farm households as a result of the new law, finding that average tax rates are estimated to decline across all farm sizes and commodity specializations. Declines were greatest for midsize and large farms. The tax analysis results were presented to the Secretary’s office and other policy and decision makers. • Farmland appreciation from 2000-2015 lowered the share of financially stressed farms. Farm real estate values reached record highs in recent years, more than doubling from $1,483 per acre in 2000 to $3,060 per acre in 2015. ERS analysis shows that the likelihood of financial stress fell most among those who owned less than one-quarter of their acres operated. Also, farms in the Heartland that owned at least 50 percent of their cropland acres—disproportionately operated by older, more experienced farmers—borrowed more and purchased more land during periods of high appreciation and land equity gains. Thus the gradual transfer of land between generations from more experienced to less experienced operators may slow during periods of rapid appreciation, while young and beginning farmers may find it easier to purchase land when land prices level out or decline. • Changing farm structure has led to changes in the distribution of income support over time. An ERS study tracked the effect of changes in farm structure on the allocation of direct financial assistance from commodity, conservation, and Federal crop insurance programs from 1991 through 2015. The study found that commodity program payments, some conservation program payments, and Federal crop insurance indemnities have shifted to larger farms as U.S. agricultural production continues to consolidate. Since the operators of larger farms have higher household incomes than those of smaller farms, commodity program payments and support through Federal crop insurance have also shifted to higher-income households. The authors briefed OSEC and House Agriculture Committee staff. The report has been cited in numerous trade and national media sources as well as by members of the Senate Ag Committee. • Agricultural production has shifted to much larger farming operations over the last three decades, even as the number of very small farms grows. Based on detailed farm-level data, an ERS report measured trends in consolidation and tracked developments in farm-level specialization as well as the organization of farming businesses. Consolidation of production and acreage into larger farms has been persistent, widespread, and pronounced in crop production. Structural change has been quite dramatic in some livestock commodities—such as dairy, egg laying, and hogs—but consolidation has been modest or nonexistent in pasture/grazing land and in the associated cow-calf sector. The long-term shifts toward agricultural consolidation have occurred in tandem with a shift toward greater farm specialization. Despite increased consolidation, most production continues to be carried out on family farms. The findings were presented at several USDA briefings, a USDA blog, and covered by media including the Wall Street Journal, NPR, the Farm Journal, Successful Farmer, and other outlets. • Many more farm households show positive economic returns to farming when tax benefits and asset appreciation are considered. A farm’s financial performance is commonly measured by net farm income, net cash farm income, and the farm household’s income or loss from the farm business. An ERS report examined returns to farming from a broader economic perspective, which also considers tax-loss benefits (such as the ability to write off farm business losses against other household income) from farming and appreciation in the value of farmland assets. In 2015, 43 percent of U.S. farm households earned positive income from farming. Meanwhile, average farm real estate values increased nearly every year from 1990 to 2015. When tax-loss benefits and the estimated appreciation in farmland values are considered, the share of farm households with positive returns from their farm operation increased to about 70 percent. Findings were also reported in multiple media outlets. • The ERS Commodity Outlook Program serves USDA stakeholders in the public and private sectors by delivering timely, independent and objective information about agricultural markets. The Commodity Outlook Program reports and data products are among ERS’s most widely used and ERS is committed to maintaining a strong and vibrant commodity outlook program. In 2018, ERS continued to focus on improving the user experience and accessibility to its data products, including greater use of data visualizations and machine readable files for Commodity Costs and Returns, Domestic Livestock Data, and Vegetable and Pulses Supply and Use Data. ERS also continues to implement a strategic plan focused on the actions necessary to strengthen this program; additional enhancements to the content and communication of commodity outlook materials including new visualizations for vegetable, pulses and rice; and implementing internal data and process improvements to provide high quality data in formats requested by users. • A variety of risk management programs are available to help crop and livestock producers mitigate losses to their income due to yield and price risk. ERS researchers examined the landscape of risk management programs, the rules governing eligibility, the formulas that determine payments, and the effects of programs on both farm producers’ revenues and changes in those revenues. Using historical data as well as simuŹlations, ERS illustrated the range of outcomes possible under different conditions, poliŹcies, and coverage levels, offering insights into the scope and depth of risk management programs available to producers. The goal of the analysis was to provide information about the current set of programs and the environment in which producers operate for decision makers involved in the 2018 Farm Bill policymaking process. • Rural America’s economy continues to experience increased employment but post-recession recovery lags that of urban areas. ERS provides up-to-date information on rural economic and demographic trends in an annual series, Rural America at a Glance. The latest report noted that the rural economy continues to recover from the Great Recession but more slowly than urban economies. For rural areas as a whole, employment has increased modestly since 2011 and median incomes are rising once again. Nonetheless, rural employment has not returned to its pre-recession level, and job growth since 2011 has been well below the urban growth rate. Rural poverty rates remain higher than in urban areas, especially in the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, and the Rio Grande Valley. Meanwhile, the rural population loss earlier in the decade may have ended, with signs of population recovery in many parts of rural America in 2015-16. The findings were communicated via a webinar and in briefings to senior USDA policy makers. • ERS-sponsored workshop highlighted new research on economic returns to infrastructure investment. USDA is placing renewed priority on meeting the infrastructure needs of rural industries and residents to promote economic development and a higher quality of life. In April 2018, ERS and the Farm Foundation cosponsored a national conversation in Washington, DC to explore how rural infrastructure investments impact economic activity. The more than 110 workshop participants included experts and leaders from universities, government, international development organizations, communities, and the private sector. Research presented at the workshop will be published in peer-reviewed journals and reports and will contribute to future policy discussions about rural infrastructure investment strategies. • Positive effects of Value Added Grants Program on rural business survival and growth. A recent ERS report assessed the impact of Rural Development’s Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program on the survival and employment growth of recipient businesses, outcomes that are related to the program goals of saving and creating jobs. The study found that businesses that received VAPG grants between 2001 and 2013 were less likely to have failed 6 years after receipt than similar businesses that did not receive grants, and larger VAPG grants had a larger impact on business survival. The grants also enabled recipients to employ more workers than similar non-recipient businesses; employment impacts were estimated to be 40 jobs per $1 million of grants. While some of the impact may be due to other assistance, VAPG may have played a catalytic role in leveraging sources of financial capital. The report’s findings were also presented in Amber Waves, a Chart of Note, and multiple briefings to policy officials in USDA and Congress. • Rural healthcare employment growth lags the Nation’s and shows modest local impact. The healthcare industry is growing faster than any other U.S. industry and is projected to add the most jobs of any industry by 2024. A recent ERS report analyzed trends in rural employment shares in inpatient healthcare between 2001 and 2015, and estimated the multiplier effect of rural inpatient healthcare facility jobs. The study found that rural healthcare employment has not kept pace with national trends, experiencing a 2 percent decline from 2011 to 2015. Inpatient healthcare facilities experienced modest employment gains in rural counties from 2001 to 2015. For rural areas as a whole, the gains did not generate additional local employment beyond employees in those facilities; among metropolitan counties, which are more urbanized than other rural counties, multiplier effects were slightly larger. • Rural residents were less likely than urban residents to engage in telehealth activities. The benefits of telehealth—health services or activities conducted via phone, Internet, and other technologies—may be greater in rural areas, where remoteness and provider shortages may make accessing health care more difficult for rural residents. Using detailed 2015 household data, ERS analysis shows that telehealth activities were less frequent in rural areas among consumers 15 years and older. The online activities studied include health research; health maintenance (communication with health providers, including communicating with medical practitioners, maintaining records, and paying bills); and health monitoring via devices that exchange data remotely with medical personnel. Engagement in telehealth activities was higher among those with more education. Protect and enhance the Nation's natural resource base and the environment Current Activities: The ERS conservation and natural resources economics research program improves understanding of the interrelationship between agricultural production and environmental outcomes, and assesses policy and program options for supporting sustainable production while enhancing the Nation’s natural resources. ERS research examines how economic incentives influence the adoption of management practices that can improve the environmental performance of agriculture and conserve scarce resources, including land, water, soil, air and biodiversity. ERS also contributes to USDA’s efforts to improve the science behind Federal environmental, water and air quality regulations and programs, including insights into policy options for controlling nonpoint source pollution. ERS develops models and other analytical techniques to estimate the impacts of alternative approaches used by farmers to adapt to changing weather conditions and resource constraints as the demand for agricultural production grows. The models predict responses of farmers to USDA programs, including voluntary incentives for drought mitigation and improved soil health and nutrient management. A related area of research addresses the implications of regional drought for U.S. agriculture, including producers’ production and investment decisions, and their participation in conservation and other risk-mitigating programs. ERS research on farmer responses and the implications for markets and natural resources builds on expertise in the economics of land use and land management, technology adoption, and conservation program design. Selected Examples of Recent Progress: • A new survey of irrigation organizations will provide a foundation for understanding local irrigation decisions and their impact on drought resilience. Increasing demands for limited water resources, and concerns for agricultural drought resilience under heightened water scarcity, has prompted renewed interest in water data development at the agricultural district scale. Working with partners both inside and beyond USDA, ERS is developing a national survey of irrigation organizations to provide the first updated dataset of local water-supply management entities since the 1978 Census of Irrigation Organizations. This initiative builds on ERS research collaborations addressing regional groundwater management—including managed aquifer recharge in California’s Central Valley and the Lower Mississippi alluvial aquifer, and groundwater sustainability in the High Plains. Survey findings and supporting geodatabase will inform future research efforts as well as an array of Federal and State program activities. A draft survey questionnaire and survey pre-testing are underway FY 2019. • Conservation tillage practices vary widely across crops and regions. Reducing tillage and increasing soil cover of farm fields can enhance soil health and lead to improved agricultural productivity, greater drought resilience, and better environmental outcomes. ERS researchers used field-level data to estimate tillage, residue and cover practice adoption. Almost 50 percent of corn, soybean, wheat, and cotton acreage was in no-till or strip-till at some time over a 4-year period but only about 20 percent of these acres were in no-till or strip-till all 4 years. For individual crops, the rate of no-till varies by region. Adoption of residue and cover practices also varies across crops and, to some extent, across tillage practices. • Simulated strategies for cost-effective nutrient reductions in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin involve a mix of practices. The Gulf of Mexico’s summer hypoxic zone, extending up to nearly 6,000 square miles, is fueled by nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB), a region with 73 percent of U.S. cropland. A recent ERS report assessed the most cost-effective way of achieving a 45 percent reduction in cropland nutrient loads to the Gulf, which would significantly reduce the average size of the hypoxic zone. The study found that reductions are achievable using a mix of strategies, including on field management practices, off-field practices such as wetlands and buffers, a shift in crops, and cropland retirement. Meeting the intended goal of reducing nutrient discharge, regardless of region of origin, focuses efforts in the Lower Mississippi sub-basin. A broader approach that requires regional nutrient reductions to be proportional to baseline contributions to the Gulf runoff spreads the conservation effort more widely across the MARB. Adopting such practices to meet water quality goals also increases commodity prices, resulting in more intensive production outside the MARB, and increased nutrient and sediment loadings to water in other watersheds. Briefings were provided to the Hypoxia Task Force Coordinating Committee and the FPAC Under Secretary. • Most farm operators and landlords do not own the oil and gas rights associated with their land. With the shale revolution, oil and gas production in the United States grew by 69 percent from 2005 to 2014, and almost 67 percent of the production occurred on farmland in 2014. ERS research examined the extent to which farm operators and landlords own the rights to the oil and gas beneath their land, which affects their ability to benefit financially from development and to shape the terms on which it occurs. In the counties with oil and gas production in 2014, only 13 percent of non-operator landlords and 10 percent of farm operators (including both owner-operators and renters) reported receiving payments from gas or oil production. Recipients owned $32.9 billion in oil and gas rights that generated $7.4 billion in payments through leases with energy firms—almost 17 percent of total net cash farm income for operators and non-operator landlords with land in these counties. The ERS report was cited in a number of media outlets. • Despite higher winter loss rates, U.S. honey bee colony numbers have remained stable or risen since 1996. Recent ERS research provided an overview of the pollination services market and the mechanisms by which beekeepers, farmers, and retail food producers adjust to increasing scarcity in the pollination services market. It also examined the evidence on pollinated crop production, pollination service fees, and annual numbers of honey bee colonies. Among pollinated crops, almonds and plums have had the largest increases in pollination service fees, rising about 2.5 and 2.4 times, respectively, in real (inflation-adjusted) terms since the early 1990s. For other pollinated crops, pollination service fees have risen at an average annual rate of 2-3 percent, and have not shown a marked increase since Colony Collapse Disorder appeared in 2006. This research was featured in a briefing to REE leadership and Office of the Chief Scientist, enabled ERS to respond to USDA and Congressional requests about pollinator markets and research, and has received substantial press coverage. Strengthen the international competitiveness of American agriculture Current Activities: ERS conducts research on the economic performance and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture in international markets. U.S. producers rely on export markets to sell agricultural and food products, to sustain and grow revenues, and to contribute to employment, particularly in rural communities. This research program examines emerging patterns of agricultural trade and the associated economic drivers including income and population growth, and domestic and trade policies, and provides information on the principal underlying factors affecting U.S. and global agricultural trade. ERS also conducts research on the state of global food security, including factors affecting food production and the ability to import food, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. By applying a demand driven framework to assess food demand across global regions and countries, ERS informs decision makers in the United States and throughout the world with its annual assessment of international food security. Selected Examples of Recent Progress: • Global agricultural trade, about $1 trillion in 2014, has risen 3.6 percent per year for the last two decades, facilitated by technological change, productivity gains, and trade liberalization. ERS research surveyed 20 years (1995-2014) of trends in world agricultural trade and summarizes key policy issues that will confront decision makers and shape agricultural trade in the coming years. Growth occurred across all major categories, with trade in oilseeds/oilseed products growing fastest; however, growth in trade across countries and regions was uneven. Agricultural exports by the five BRIIC (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia and China) countries grew much faster than the global average. Agricultural imports of emerging economies grew quickly, dominated by growth in China’s imports; while Europe’s agricultural imports grew much more slowly. The research showed that in general a country’s tariffs tend to be higher for imports that compete with domestic products, and additional duties can be applied for limited periods and in certain circumstances. The research also found that the amount of agricultural domestic support has remained about the same (or fallen) since the URAA for developed countries. Major emerging economies, however, have increased the support they provide to farmers, and recent emphasis on support for agriculture is a sharp departure from earlier policies in some of these countries that implicitly taxed agriculture. This report won the profession’s (AAEA) highest award for Quality of Communication in 2018. It was a key-note presentation at the U.S. Agricultural Exports Development Council’s annual meeting in Baltimore. In addition, ERS provided trade analysis and briefings solicited by OSEC, FAS/OCE, and the Under Secretary for Trade & Foreign Agricultural Affairs on the economic impacts of potential trade agreements and tariff changes. • While the United States is one of the largest suppliers of China’s agricultural imports, it has not been a major target of Chinese agricultural investment. Chinese companies are increasing their investments in foreign agricultural and food assets. Their broad aims are to gain profits for Chinese investors while achieving national food security. ERS research has explored Chinese agricultural investment trends to improve understanding of these ventures, their size and impacts for government and business decision makers. Apart from the large 2013 acquisition of Smithfield Foods, relatively little Chinese investment has targeted U.S. agriculture. Statistics for 2014 show that North America received only 2 percent of China’s farming, forestry, and fishing investment, the smallest share of any continent. Statistics tracking foreign farmland holdings in the United States show 12-to-25 Chinese acquisitions annually during 2008-13. Chinese investors tend to enter less-developed counŹtries where there are few competitors, potential to raise productivity using Chinese techŹnology, and potential to diversify suppliers of Chinese imports. A few companies with access to financing from Chinese banks are pursuing mergers, acquisitions, and partnerŹships with companies in more developed markets; most ventures have modest impacts on agricultural trade. This research has been featured in briefings to USDA leadership and offices including the Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Office of the Chief Economist and General Counsel’s Office; also, the broader foundational research portfolio on the economics of China’s food and agriculture enabled ERS to provide Congressional testimony. • Imports will be necessary to meet China’s growing demand for dairy products. ERS research examined trends in China’s dairy consumption, production and trade, and analyzed the extent to which future dairy demand would likely be met with domestic or foreign-sourced dairy. Chinese consumption of dairy products is growing rapidly from a historically low base, and China is the primary source of demand growth in global dairy markets. The Chinese government projected that dairy product consumption would grow over 27 percent during 2016-26, with imports rising 50 percent. The European Union and New Zealand are the leading dairy exporters to China; U.S. competitiveness in this market is challenged in part by unfavorable exchange rates. Chinese overseas investments in dairy production and trade are mainly in New Zealand and Australia. • Food security is projected to improve for many developing countries. ERS publishes the International Food Security Assessment to inform U.S. policymakers as well as international donor organizations of the food security situation in 76 low- and middle-income countries. The report provides projections of food demand and access based on ERS’s food security model, which allows for analysis of income and price changes on food security. Results were also presented in a well-received webinar and discussed by major press publications such as the WSJ. Given projections for ongoing low food prices and rising incomes, the 2018 report projects food security for most countries in the study to improve through 2028, with food insecurity rates falling from 21 percent in 2018 to 10 percent in 2028. Food-insecure people are defined as those consuming less than the nutritional target of roughly 2,100 calories per day per person. Despite improvements over the years, Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to remain the most food-insecure region in the world. The report was featured in a blog by IFPRI and there was substantial media pick-up of the results. • The 2014-15 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak had substantial impacts on the U.S. poultry sector, with differing impacts by particular commodities. ERS research examines market impacts of the HPAI outbreak, to inform ongoing efforts by USDA to continuously improve policy and planning for future potential outbreaks. This report found the U.S. poultry sector may be able to recover quickly from production losses from disease events, but other market impacts—such as trade losses and price instability—can persist. Also, disease events can result in disparate impacts across the poultry sector. Affected turkey and egg producers lost significant numbers of birds while egg and turkey producers who were not affected received the benefit of higher prices in the short run without bearing any of the high cost incurred by those directly affected. In addition, disease events can impact related industries even if the disease has no direct effect. The broiler industry lost less than 0.01 percent of its U.S. inventory to HPAI, yet the threat of potential infection was the basis of trade restrictions that contributed to much lower 2015 and 2016 broiler prices compared to pre-outbreak levels. These results were featured in a briefing to Administrators in USDA’s Research, Extension and Education Mission Area.