Based in Washington, D.C., the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy fosters and conducts objective, non-advocacy research, analysis, and education to inform public policy on food, agriculture, natural resources, environmental quality, and rural economics. It was founded in 1984 with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. By virtue of its location in our nation's capital, the National Center has unique access to national policy leaders. In February 2004, the National Center significantly increased its research capacity and networks with policy researchers, analysts and institutions when it entered into a cooperative agreement with the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.
The National Center does not duplicate or attempt to compete with existing research and educational institutions. Rather, through partnerships with a network of universities, federal agencies, and other institutions, it accesses the most appropriate data, analysis and expertise for the policy issues at hand, and molds the resulting information into products and services to inform policy. Stakeholders are provided a balanced perspective on the likely outcomes of alternative policy approaches, including how gains and losses are distributed.
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
NCFAP is currently engaged in a cooperative agreement with the Office of the Chief Economist of USDA for investigation the relationship of petroleum and agricultural feedstock prices. The result has been that a sophisticated time series analysis of monthly prices for the period 1990 – 2010 has shown that there is no relationship, except for short tern period that were brought on mainly by government policy. This result will be published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics during 2013. We have also shown that with current technology switch grass and corn stover are not competitive with grains for biofuel. Our last project is now being completed and is focused on the relationships of futures prices for petroleum products and agricultural feedstock. These papers will put a halt to the specious claims that agricultural feedstock used for fuel are diminishing the potential for feeding the world with grains, a constant clam of various groups that are watching technology and used of agricultural products worldwide. It also drives a stake in the rhetoric about alternative feedstock and their potential use for agricultural feedstock for producing petroleum like products.
NCFAP will assist in a four year research project proposed and coordinated by The Norwegian Center for Rural Research and financed by The Research Council of Norway. The overarching objective of AGRISPACE is to provide comprehensive knowledge on challenges and opportunities for sustainable growth in production and innovation in land-based bio-production across space. Through interdisciplinary research and innovative and ambitious methods of spatial analysis AGRISPACE will explore the four interrelated thematic areas of: Spatial variation and the effects of this variation on the utilization of land resources; Spatial variation in products and production methods (types); Factors and conditions that promote or restrict value creation in biobased value chains; Goals and goal conflicts in agricultural policy and policy instruments--and will evaluate the effects of these for a bio-economic transition in land-based production. AGRISPACE will further discuss different development trajectories or scenarios for Norwegian agriculture and suggest policies to achieve desirable outcomes.
NCAP has contracted with the American Veterinary Medical Association for a study to develop estimates of price and income elasticites for the veterinary services provided by the nearly 100,000 veterinary service providers in the US. This will be a three-year project, and will utilize data from zip codes, census tracts, records of individual practices and other results from previous studies to develop these estimates. To date, veterinarians have used only cost based pricing schemes, more or less ignoring systematic information from the demand side of the pricing equation. We will develop these elasticity estimates for different kinds of veterinary practices, large animal, dogs and cats, equine and mixed practices. Also, the analysis will provide new information on over supply of veterinary services in different locations and opportunities for expanding services in markets that are under served. With this information on elasticities, the veterinary services providers will be better positioned to serve their customers in the US.
This project had a different name, the John Deere Project, in the summary report last year. It has now evolved to the Family Farms Group, a set of 70 farmers that farm about 600,000 acres in the US and Canada. The Family Farms group will serve as a test bed for the decision aids that are developed from John Deere and other major machinery manufacturers’ data bases. We expect this agreement to come into actual funding and operation this year as a research activity with major land grant universities. Included in this project will be Michigan State University, Purdue University, the University of Nebraska, and The Ohio State University. Other land grants will likely follow as we expand the scope of the decision aids for farmers. Early applications are for yield models, soil performance classifications, and irrigation efficiency decision aids.
NCFAP will cooperate in a new major project designed to estimate the relationship of government funded research on research findings and published results on the advancement of science. The grant is to America Institutes for Research (AIR) and covers the USDA, HHS, NSF and other agencies that fund research at major universities. The research approach will be to use new key word association, searching grant proposals and the literature for coincidence in key words or groups to identify areas of research and outcomes in terms of published journal articles and technical reports. NCFAP's responsibilities will be to relate the development of the statistical models for this "scanning" analysis with the identification of the key words for linking research areas in the proposals and the published research outputs. This new area of research is being led by several major research institutions in the US.
The Gates Foundation has grated America Institutes for Research (AIR) a contract to evaluate one of its projects in Africa. The Foundation has funded a number of health and food related projects in Africa during the past several years and is interested in their impacts relative to their objectives stated in the research proposals and nationally. NCFAP will assist in the research project, designing the evaluation exercises and conducting the analysis to determine the progress that has been made with the aid of the Gates Foundation research grants. The project which is possibly the first of these projects to be evaluated will be in Kenya, and has just begun.
NCFAP has contracted with “AgroInvest,” a USAID funded project to assist in the development of new agricultural policy in Ukraine. We will work through the University of Missouri in providing this policy assistance. Thus far we have provided a background paper on food security policy that followed an initial food security law that was vetoed by the Ukraine President. This law was rather confused relating food security to agricultural production rather than treating it as a social problem to be addressed directly. We provided comments on this initial draft law from last year and now the Ukraine government is considering rewriting it and submitting it again to the political process. NCFAP is also working on the development of a major agricultural reform which is set to be considered next year. This reform if enacted will bring the Ukraine closer to a set of policies that are more market oriented.
NCFAP is in the process of assisting in the commercialization of a process for converting animal manure into a soil enhancement ingredient or low NPK fertilizer. We are supervising the research on the stability of the fertilizer output, the soil capacity for accepting the low NPK fertilizer, and other technical issues. We expect to have these research projects completed in about one year, and be ready to commercialize the conversion process. The process uses hydro-dynamic cavatation to produce a fertilizer that is pathogen free, drug residual free and has no odor. It also includes many of the micro nutrients needed for soil health productivity. Projections made for the commercialization indicate that the related company could be quite profitable producing the converted fertilizer at about the same price per ton as compost. We are prepared to start this process this year and have a lead scientist for the University of California, Davis to manage the technical aspects of the research needed to secure patents and operating permissions from state environmental offices.
In April, NCFAP will host a delegation from Brazil through the USDA Cochran Program. The Brazil Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA) would like to learn how the USDA handles organic products and the procedures established to guarantee compliance with regulations. The general goal of this training program is to build bilateral cooperation between MAPA and USDA. Further, the FAS office in Brazil seeks to improve transparency and market access requirements, and reduce bureaucracy, in order to promote exports of organic products from the United States to Brazil. These general objectives will be accomplished by personal instruction and visits to USDA to learn of the federal regulations and enforcement procedures, as well as to farms in Nevada and California to learn about farmer perspectives and local regulations.
NCFAP has a project with FAO for assisting to build an agricultural extension system for the country. As a part of the effort, we presented a proposal for developing an annual agricultural sector model for the nation. The project would build a model partnered after the FAPRI system of national models. We are set to learn about the acceptance of the proposal this spring. If agreed we will start with major commodities, wheat, grain sorghum, barley and others and proceed to more specialty crops for Kazakhstan. The first version of the model should be available by the end of 2014.