Many of my current and recent projects relate to issues under active consideration in the context of the U.S. Farm Bill, including the economic consequences of farm commodity programs, the economics of human obesity and policies that affect it, and the economics of federal policies for financing and managing agricultural R&D.
Effects of Agricultural Policies on Human Nutrition and Obesity
Our work in this area has been supported by a NIFA grant and several cooperative agreements with the USDA, and conducted jointly with nutritionists from UC Davis and other economists from Iowa State University, USDA-ERS, and Cornell University. A primary aim has been to quantify the nature and extent of the effects of economic factors and selected agricultural policies on human nutrition and obesity, and link these findings to extension and educational activities. We have focused on the main elements of agricultural policies applied in the United States: commodity price and income supports, import barriers, public agricultural R&D, and specific nutrition-related policies and programs. Details can be found on the project web site. Other elements of work in this general area have related to the impacts of food stamps on obesity, and BMI as a measure of obesity.
Agricultural R&D and Productivity
This project involves studies of agricultural science policy and its consequences, conducted jointly with colleagues at other U.S. Universities, the USDA Economic Research Service, and overseas. It is linked to the regional research project, NC-1034. It has three main continuing elements: (1) an international comparisons project involving the documentation and analysis of institutional arrangements and investments in agricultural research around the world; (2) empirical studies of agricultural productivity patterns and their determinants, and (3) empirical studies of the benefits and costs of agricultural R&D and technological change. Publications and other details can be found at the InSTePP web site. Recent elements have emphasized the recent agricultural productivity slowdown, as discussed in our 2010 book Shifting Patterns, and the returns to U.S. public agricultural R&D, as discussed in our 2010 book Persistence Pays.
Collective Action Programs
Collective action programs are important as a mechanism for funding and conducting agricultural R&D and mandated commodity promotion programs, among other things, as discussed in our 2005 book on The Economics of Commodity Promotion Programs.
As well as directing the Robert Mondavi Institute Center for Wine Economics, and leading various Center events, I have several research projects underway on different aspects of wine economics, including a major project on the economics of Pierce's Disease of winegrapes as vectored by the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter, a project on the causes and consequences of high and rising alcohol content of wine, and a project on grape genetic improvement, with emphasis on resistance to powdery mildew.
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