Assessing the US Feed the Future Initiative: A New Approach to Food Security?

Assessing the US Feed the Future Initiative: A New Approach to Food Security? Center for Global Development. Kimberly Ann Elliott and Casey Dunning. March 1, 2016.

Data on Feed the Future’s results are just becoming available, and there is strikingly little independent analysis of the program. The report assesses how Feed the Future performs against its stated objective of offering a new, more effective approach to food security. The integrated agriculture and nutrition approach emphasizes increased selectivity in aid allocations along with country ownership and capacity building to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of the initiative’s impacts. The report finds the initiative has led to an increase in the share of overall U.S. assistance for agriculture and nutrition, and that the Obama administration has increasingly concentrated this aid in selected focus countries. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 35 pages, 633.2 KB].

School Meals in Transition

School Meals in Transition. Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Katherine Ralston and Constance Newman. August 20, 2015.

School foodservice programs are adjusting to a complex mix of changes mandated by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. School meal programs are adjusting to stronger nutritional standards, but face challenges in maintaining paid lunch participation to meet revenue goals and to help avoid stigma toward children receiving free or reduced-price food. Summary [PDF format, 2 pages, 159 KB]. Full Report [PDF format, 25 pages, 1.87 MB].

Effects of Recent Energy Price Reductions on U.S. Agriculture

Effects of Recent Energy Price Reductions on U.S. Agriculture. Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kandice Marshall et al. June 2015.

Over the last half of 2014, energy prices, including crude oil and natural gas, fell sharply and are expected to remain low at least through 2016. Lower energy prices will benefit the agricultural sector mainly via lower production and transport costs.

[PDF format, 21 pages, 639 KB].

China’s Growing Demand for Agricultural Imports

China’s Growing Demand for Agricultural Imports. Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fred Gale et al. February 19, 2015.

The report examines China’s recent emergence as a major agricultural importer, analyzes U.S.-China trade patterns, summarizes projections of future imports, and discusses how Chinese officials are adjusting their strategic approach to agricultural trade as imports grow. Report Summary [PDF format, 2 pages, 182 KB]. Full Report [PDF format, 39 pages, 3,167 KB].

Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land

Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land. World Resources Institute. Tim Searchinger and Ralph Heimlich. January 2015.

The report shows that any dedicated use of land for growing bioenergy inherently comes at the cost of not using that land for growing food or animal feed, or for storing carbon. It recommends several policy changes to phase out forms of bioenergy that use crops or that otherwise make dedicated use of land. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 44 pages, 748.3 KB].

How Does Climate Change Alter Agricultural Strategies to Support Food Security?

How Does Climate Change Alter Agricultural Strategies to Support Food Security? International Food Policy Research Institute. Philip Thornton and Leslie Lipper. April 2014.

The negative effects of climate change are projected to affect the populations with the least capacity to adjust, but with the greatest need for improved agricultural performance to achieve food security and reduce poverty. The paper identifies how climate change affects how we should approach the process of transforming agricultural systems, including crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, to support global food security and poverty reduction in a sustainable way. It also identifies implications for FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and CGIAR priorities. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 48 pages, 1.02 MB].

Debt Use by U.S. Farm Businesses, 1992-2011

Debt Use by U.S. Farm Businesses, 1992-2011. Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jennifer Ifft et al. April 2014.

The report presents data on debt-use patterns by farm businesses and explores key trends over 20 years. Average leverage has declined across most farm categories over the past 20 years, as have the share of farms that are highly leveraged and their share of total farm business value of production. While older operators and crop farms are more likely to have benefited from increasing farmland values, livestock farms were also less leveraged in 2011, on average, than they were in 1992. Younger operators, large-scale family farms, and dairy and poultry farm businesses currently have the highest average debt-to-asset ratios. It is these farms that are at highest risk of debt repayment problems if farm income declines or interest rates increase. Nonetheless, most farm businesses appear to be well positioned to withstand such shocks.

[HTML format with links to summary and full text PDF files].

Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States

Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jorje Fernandez-Ornejo. February 20, 2014.

Genetically engineered (GE) crops, mainly corn, cotton, and soybeans, were planted on 169 million acres in 2013, about half of U.S. land used for crops. Their adoption has saved farmers time, reduced insecticide use, and enabled the use of less toxic herbicides. Research and development of new GE varieties continues to expand farmer choices.

[HTML format with links to PDF summary and full text files].

Energy Development’s Impacts on Rural Employment Growth

Energy Development’s Impacts on Rural Employment Growth. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jeremy Weber and Jason Brown. December 16, 2013.

A decade of higher energy prices and the expectation that high prices will persist have encouraged policymakers to promote domestic energy production. Three growing energy industries in the United States are unconventional gas, gas located in rock formations like shale that is impractical to extract with conventional methods, wind, and corn-based ethanol. From 2000 to 2010, all three industries more than doubled their output, with most of the growth occurring in rural areas with natural gas and abundant land for wind turbines and corn fields. Economic Research Service estimates suggest that counties where these industries expanded significantly experienced net gains in employment.

[HTML format, various paging].

Monopoly and Micro-Irrigation in Smallholder Water Markets

Monopoly and Micro-Irrigation in Smallholder Water Markets. RAND Corporation. Benjamin P. Bryant. October 30, 2013.

Many rural agricultural areas around the world are facing severely depleted groundwater resources, which farmers rely on to increase agricultural productivity through irrigation. If groundwater in these areas is to be sustainably utilized, total withdrawals must be diminished from their current levels, which may cause a welfare loss on the part of farmers and their communities. The level of welfare loss, if any, and its distribution will depend which of a wide array of policies are implemented to curtail water use. In theory, the policies may take many forms, including direct and indirect rationing, direct and indirect marginal pricing, tradable water rights, and subsidizing water efficient technologies such as microirrigation. The research contributes to a policy debate motivated by the situation in North Gujarat, India, where a mix of recently enacted policies has somewhat helped to improve the groundwater situation, but in an inefficient manner. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 198 pages, 10.2 MB].