2013 Annual Report

Programs and Projects Accomplished in 2013

Perspectives on the 2013 Farm Bill

The last two years have been a challenging period for agricultural policy makers. Budgetary pressures and an increasingly contentious debate about the appropriate role of the federal government in food and agriculture have complicated development of a successor to the 2008 Farm Bill.

Whatever the fate of the 2013 omnibus “farm bill,” it is clear that this debate is far from over. To help inform the debate with diverse perspectives, Farm Foundation, NFP, and the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP) have commissioned a series of essays on the various titles of the legislation. Our intent is to enrich the discussion by provide access to the ideas and perspectives of some of the best thought leaders in our nation on how to shape the farm bill legislation.

To read essays, go to here

USDA Cochran Program for Azerbaijan on Value Chain Development

In June of 2013, we hosted 9 Azerbaijan participants for Cochran Program, along with their interpreter. The program included showing the Azerbaijan delegation the food chain for produce in the USA, making special note of the importance of differentiation and organic products for the produce value chain. The differentiation was especially apparent in the retail market where we saw a small organic market chain in the San Francisco area, the Davis Co-op, Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and farmers markets in Northern Nevada. Each of these establishments has found a niche in the food produce market place. We believe that the Azerbaijan delegation was impressed with the variety of retail outlets which are functioning profitably in the USA. This situation is apparently quite different than what typifies the market place in Azerbaijan where the retail markets are not so well developed. In our value chain discussions, we reviewed the niches for the different retail stores and discussed the segment of the market on which they were focusing.

Kazakhstan FAO Project

Based on the book published in 2013 in English and Russian, “Extension in Kazakhstan and the Experience of the USA: Lessons from a Working National Model“, written by Rector Yespolov, Stan Johnson and others, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) commissioned a project in Kazakhstan that is implementing the recommended approach for developing a broader, deeper and local participatory extension system. The Kazakh National Agrarian University and the Ministry of Agriculture have agreed to cooperate with UN FAO and NCFAP in implementing the project. This three year project started during 2013, and will bring in to NCFAP a significant funding. It has great potential for being expanded to the Central Asian Republics all of which are struggling to set appropriate extension systems. During this year we have held a National Forum for Extension attended by about 60 leaders from Kazakhstan and concluded seven pilot projects demonstrating the value of as good extension program for Kazakhstan. The programs were for youth, local participation and agricultural marketing. In the coming year we will have another national Forum for Extension, review the outcomes of the past years pilot projects, implement new pilot projects and develop a road map for the future of extension in Kazakhstan.

Cooperative Agreement with USDA/OCE

The cooperative agreement with USDA/OCE has been completed this year with the submission of four research papers. The work began with a Technical Report investigating the relationships between agricultural feedstock prices for different commodities and different petroleum products. We used these results of the Technical Report to reduce the agricultural feedstock prices considered in the three following papers. This Technical Report is available on our NCFAP website. The purpose for the research projects was to determine the relationship between agricultural feedstocks and petroleum product prices. The initial paper was developed by analyzing monthly data from 1990 – 2010 using time series analysis of spot prices of these commodities. In summary, this analysis showed that there is no long-term relationship between these agricultural feedstock and petroleum prices and only a hint of a short term relationship, which occurred around the period of the mandated gas additive for ethanol, There is however a relationship between petroleum and ethanol prices (paper # 2). This paper has been accepted for publication by the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. Paper # 3 was completed using the same analytic approach, but with near tern futures prices for agricultural feedstocks and petroleum, monthly data (1990 – 2102). The relationship found between petroleum and agricultural feedstocks was even weaker than that for spot prices. Paper # 4 was based on available budgets for ethanol production, and relating the implicit price of ethanol produced from agricultural feedstocks to prices of ethanol produced using cellulose based feedstocks. Here we found that ethanol production from agricultural feedstocks was far more competitive than ethanol produced from cellulose based feedstocks. This analysis essentially puts to rest many of the “feed versus fuel” arguments that have been advanced against US ethanol production.

Women’s Farm and Forestry Alliance

The Women’s Farm and Forestry Alliance was organized through NCFAP to provide WEgrow, an online skills training for leadership, financial and business management that is targeted for women who produce and market all types of agricultural or forestry products. A Board of Incorporators was established to shape the vision, and Stan Johnson, NCFAP Chairman of the Board, served as one of the original members. The Alliance launched a website and hosted a National Gathering on March 11-12, 2013. The program was transitioned to the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota for the purpose of developing and recording on-line curriculum modules. WEgrow is now a program under the Women, Food and Ag Network (WFAN).

Farm Bill Essays

NCFAP partnered with the Farm Foundation to create a series of Farm Bill Essays. The essays are posted on the Farm Foundation website, as well as the NCFAP site, and seek to clarify issues related to the specific titles of the present Senate and House versions of the proposed legislation, and were a resource to members of the Conference Committee.