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Archive for the ‘U.S. Department of Agriculture’ Category

Cost Containment in the WIC Program: Vendor Peer Groups and Reimbursement Rates

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Cost Containment in the WIC Program: Vendor Peer Groups and Reimbursement Rates
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This study looks at current WIC cost containment strategies in an effort to make them more effective, enabling the program to serve more participants with its fixed budget resources.

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Parents Projected to Spend $245,340 to Raise a Child Born in 2013, According to USDA Report

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Parents Projected to Spend $245,340 to Raise a Child Born in 2013, According to USDA Report (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual report, Expenditures on Children and Families, also known as the Cost of Raising a Child. The report shows that a middle – income family with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend about $245,340 ($304,480 adjusted for projected inflation * ) for food, housing, childcare and education, and other child – rearing expenses up to age 18. Costs associated with pregnancy or expenses occurred after age 18, such as higher education, are not included.

While t his represents an overall 1.8 p ercent increase from 2012, the percent ages spent on each expenditure category remain the same . As in the past, the costs by location are lower in the urban South ($230,610) and rural ($193,590) regions of the country. Families in t he urban Northeast incurred the highest costs to raise a child ($282,480).

Tree and forest effects on air quality and human health in the United States

July 29, 2014 Comments off

Tree and forest effects on air quality and human health in the United States
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Trees remove air pollution by the interception of particulate matter on plant surfaces and the absorption of gaseous pollutants through the leaf stomata. However, the magnitude and value of the effects of trees and forests on air quality and human health across the United States remains unknown. Computer simulations with local environmental data reveal that trees and forests in the conterminous United States removed 17.4 million tonnes (t) of air pollution in 2010 (range: 9.0-23.2 million t), with human health effects valued at 6.8 billion U.S. dollars (range: $1.5-13.0 billion). This pollution removal equated to an average air quality improvement of less than one percent. Most of the pollution removal occurred in rural areas, while most of the health impacts and values were within urban areas. Health impacts included the avoidance of more than 850 incidences of human mortality and 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms.

Lack of Planning in $34.4 Million Department of Agriculture Soybean Program in Afghanistan

July 29, 2014 Comments off

Lack of Planning in $34.4 Million Department of Agriculture Soybean Program in Afghanistan (PDF)
Source: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

The Honorable Tom Vilsack Secretary U.S. Department of Agriculture

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Thank you for your response to my inquiry letter dated April 17, 2014, concerning the Soybeans for Agricultural Renewal in Afghanistan Initiative (SARAI) funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). After examining the materials that you provided, I’m concerned about the viability of the project and the apparent lack of analysis and planning performed prior to the project’s initiation. I’m most troubled by the following issues:

• The USDA confirmed that soybean production in Afghanistan has not met expectations and that there are doubts concerning the long-term sustainability of a soybean processing factory built as part of the project.

• The project’s implementer, the American Soybean Association, did not conduct feasibility or value-chain studies prior to initiation of the project in 2010.

• Scientific research conducted for the UK Department for International Development between 2005 and 2008 concluded that soybeans were inappropriate for conditions and farming practices in northern Afghanistan, where the program was implemented.

• Despite the lack of prior planning and analysis, and despite evidence that may have put the success of the program in doubt, USDA provided $34.4 million in commodities, transportation, and administrative funds to ASA for SARAI.

Additionality in U.S. Agricultural Conservation and Regulatory Offset Programs

July 29, 2014 Comments off

Additionality in U.S. Agricultural Conservation and Regulatory Offset Programs
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

The Federal Government spent more than $6 billion in fiscal year 2013 on voluntary conservation payment programs to encourage the adoption of a wide range of conservation practices that address multiple environmental and resource conservation goals. Conservation payments can also come from private industry, particularly in the context of an agricultural offset market established as part of a cap-and-trade system designed to reduce nutrient or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Payments lead to improvement in environmental quality only if farmers and ranchers who receive them adopt conservation practices that would not have been adopted without the payment.

When a voluntary payment causes a change in practice(s) that leads to improved environmental quality, these changes are “additional.” For any type of voluntary payment, there is some risk that the farmers or ranchers who receive them would have adopted the required practice(s), even without the payment. This study measures additionality for a number of common conservation practices typically supported by voluntary conservation payments and examines ways to increase additionality.

The Effects of Premium Subsidies on Demand for Crop Insurance

July 21, 2014 Comments off

The Effects of Premium Subsidies on Demand for Crop Insurance
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Premium subsidies are a major factor in the current success of the Federal crop insurance program. This study measures the change in crop insurance demand across multiple crops and regions following a legislated increase in subsidies. Findings reveal the influence of premium subsidies on participation in the program.

Consumers’ Use of Nutrition Information When Eating Out

July 15, 2014 Comments off

Consumers’ Use of Nutrition Information When Eating Out
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that nutrition information be posted in many restaurants and fast food places.To establish a baseline against which to measure changes in the use of on-site nutrition information about food away from home (FAFH), the report examines demographic characteristics and dietary behaviors of FAFH consumers before implementation of the law.

The Effects of Phytosanitary Regulations on U.S. Imports of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

July 9, 2014 Comments off

The Effects of Phytosanitary Regulations on U.S. Imports of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Trade agreements have reduced tariff rates and worked to restrain the arbitrary use of nontariff measures, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures, since the 1980s. U.S. imports of fruits and vegetables have risen steadily during this period as more country-commodity combinations have been approved for importation to the United States.

International Food Security Assessment, 2014-24

July 2, 2014 Comments off

International Food Security Assessment, 2014-24
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

The number of food-insecure people is projected to fall 9 percent to 490 million in 2014 from 539 million in 2013 in the 76 low- and middle-income countries included in the ERS report. Over the longer term, the food security situation is projected to deteriorate with the share of the population that is food insecure projected to reach 14.6 percent in 2024 up from 13.9 percent in 2014.

Prevalence of U.S. Food Insecurity Is Related to Changes in Unemployment, Inflation, and the Price of Food

June 25, 2014 Comments off

Prevalence of U.S. Food Insecurity Is Related to Changes in Unemployment, Inflation, and the Price of Food
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Food security has remained essentially unchanged since the 2007-09 recession. Falling unemployment from early post-recession (2009-10) to 2012, absent any other changes, would suggest a modest decline in the prevalence of food insecurity. However, this report finds that potential improvement was almost exactly offset by the effects of higher inflation and the higher relative price of food in 2012.

An Economic Assessment of Policy Options To Reduce Agricultural Pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay

June 6, 2014 Comments off

An Economic Assessment of Policy Options To Reduce Agricultural Pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

In 2010, a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) was established for the Chesapeake Bay, setting limits on emissions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment necessary to reverse declines in the Bay’s quality. Agriculture is the largest source of nutrients and sediment in the watershed. The cost of achieving water quality goals depends heavily on which policies are selected and how they are implemented.

Immigration and the Rural Workforce

June 4, 2014 Comments off

Immigration and the Rural Workforce
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Inflows of immigrants of all skill categories have long augmented the nation’s labor force. At present, several labor-intensive U.S. industries including construction, hotels, restaurants, and agriculture, employ a large number of foreign-born workers, not all of whom are legally authorized to work in this country. ERS research has examined the characteristics of the farm labor force and studied the implications of possible changes in immigration policy on farm labor markets. This research is summarized below, along with background information on immigration as it relates to farms and rural communities…

Yearly Survey Shows Better Results for Pollinators, but Losses Remain Significant

May 27, 2014 Comments off

Yearly Survey Shows Better Results for Pollinators, but Losses Remain Significant
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

A yearly survey of beekeepers, released today, shows fewer colony losses occurred in the United States over the winter of 2013-2014 than in recent years, but beekeepers say losses remain higher than the level that they consider to be sustainable. According to survey results, total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent nationwide. That number is above the 18.9 percent level of loss that beekeepers say is acceptable for their economic sustainability, but is a marked improvement over the 30.5 percent loss reported for the winter of 2012-2013, and over the eight-year average loss of 29.6 percent.

More than three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators, such as bees, to reproduce, meaning pollinators help produce one out of every three bites of food Americans eat.

Pesticide Use in U.S. Agriculture: 21 Selected Crops, 1960-2008

May 23, 2014 Comments off

Pesticide Use in U.S. Agriculture: 21 Selected Crops, 1960-2008
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This report examines trends in pesticide use in U.S. agriculture from 1960 to 2008, focusing on 21 crops that account for more than 70 percent of pesticide use, and identifies the factors affecting these trends.

Air Attack Against Wildfires: Understanding U.S. Forest Service Requirements for Large Aircraft

May 16, 2014 Comments off

Air Attack Against Wildfires: Understanding U.S. Forest Service Requirements for Large Aircraft
Source: RAND Corporation

An aging fleet of contracted fixed-wing airtankers and two fatal crashes in 2002 led the U.S. Forest Service to investigate how to recapitalize its fleet of airtankers. The Forest Service asked RAND for assistance in determining the composition of a fleet of airtankers, scoopers, and helicopters that would minimize the total social costs of wildfires, including the cost of large fires and aircraft costs. The research team developed two separate but complementary models to estimate the optimal social cost-minimizing portfolio of initial attack aircraft — that is, aircraft that support on-the-ground firefighters in containing a potentially costly fire while it is still small. The National Model allocates aircraft at the national level, incorporating data on ten years of historical wildfires, and the Local Resources Model provides a more nuanced view of the effect of locally available firefighting resources, relying on resource allocation data from the Forest Service’s Fire Program Analysis system. Both models favor a fleet mix dominated by water-carrying scoopers, with a niche role for retardant-carrying airtankers. Although scoopers require proximity to an accessible body of water, they have two advantages: shorter cycle times to drop water and lower cost. Two uncertainties could affect the overall optimal fleet size, however: future improvements in the dispatch of aircraft to fires and the value attributed to fighting already-large fires with aircraft.

Working the Land With 10 Acres: Small Acreage Farming in the United States

May 1, 2014 Comments off

Working the Land With 10 Acres: Small Acreage Farming in the United States
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Approximately 294,000 U.S. farms operated on 10 or fewer acres in 2007. While most small acreage (SA) operations did little farming, about 50,000 had sales of $10,000 or more in 2007. This report focuses on SA farms, especially those grossing $10,000 or more per year, and examines such characteristics as production strategies, types of products, sales, household income, and financial performance.

Foreign Agriculture Service — Guide to the Foreign Service Officer Selection Process

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Guide to the Foreign Service Officer Selection Process (PDF)
Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

The United States Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is one of the U.S. Government’s four Foreign Affairs Agencies under the Foreign Service Act of 1980. Chartered in 1953, FAS is a small agency with a global mission and presence. FAS is responsible for a broad range of programs, activities and tasks designed to carry out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s statutory responsibility to promote U.S. agricultural interests overseas. The core mission of FAS is to facilitate trade and international cooperation, which are critical to the vitality of the U.S. agricultural sector. Staff includes about 850 people stationed in Washington, about 160 Foreign Agricultural Affairs Officers, and 350 locally employed staff overseas. Foreign Service officers represent the interests and needs of American agriculture at U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.

If you are interested in a Foreign Service career at FAS, there is plenty of opportunity, but entry is a competitive process that takes place only once every 12-24 months depending on the needs of the service.

CRS — Forest Service Appropriations, FY2010-FY2014: In Brief

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Forest Service Appropriations, FY2010-FY2014: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The Forest Service (FS) is responsible for managing 193 million acres of the National Forest System, as well as conducting forestry research and providing assistance to state, local, private, and international forest owners. Funding to complete such work is provided through both discretionary and mandatory appropriations (see Figure 1).

Although it is an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the FS receives its discretionary appropriations through Title III of regular Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bills. The FS has received additional discretionary monies through supplemental appropriations bills. In addition, continuing appropriations resolutions have been used to maintain funding for the agency when regular appropriations bills have not been enacted before the start of the fiscal year, and in some cases, to provide full-year funding.

The FS also receives annual mandatory appropriations under existing authorizing statutes. Laws authorizing mandatory appropriations allow the FS to spend money without further action by Congress. The budget authority for several of these mandatory spending accounts is dependent on revenue generated by activities on the national forests. Typically, these laws are permanent—such as the Timber Salvage Sale Fund—but sometimes the authorizations have a sunset date.

This report presents and analyzes the discretionary and mandatory appropriations for the Forest Service—including the President’s discretionary budget requests—over the last five years, from FY2010 to FY2014.

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

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Debt Use by U.S. Farm Businesses, 1992-2011
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This report presents data on debt-use patterns by farm businesses and explores key trends over 20 years.

Introduction of New Food Products with Voluntary Health- and Nutrition-Related Claims

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Introduction of New Food Products with Voluntary Health- and Nutrition-Related Claims
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

New food labeling regulations and new diet and nutrition information can affect food companies’ use of health- and nutrition-related claims. This report examines the use of these claims from 1989 to 2010.

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