I’m currently conducting a blog series where each week I give an overview of the responsibilities of a government agency regulating our food and agriculture system. I think it’s a helpful reminder for everyone on just how complex our regulatory system really is. It’s a game of Who’s Who for government players in the U.S. food and agriculture economy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) Economic Research Service (“ERS”) reports to the Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics. ERS is a social science research agency communicating findings via briefings, analyses and major reports for issues relating to agriculture, food, natural resources, and Rural America. Structurally, it has four divisions:
1. Food Economics Division (with Branches on Diet, Safety and Health Economics, Food Assistance and Food Markets);
2. Information Services Division (with Branches on Applications Development, Information Technology Services, Publishing Services, Research Support);
3. Market and Trade Economics Division (with Branches on Agricultural Policy and Models, Animal Produces and Cost of Production, Crops, Food Security and Development, International Demand and Trade); and,
4. Resource and Rural Economics Division (with Branches on Agricultural Structure and Productivity, Farm and Rural Business, Farm and Rural Household Well-Being, Production Economics and Technology, and Resource, Environmental and Science Policy).
Specifically, ERS conducts research on animal products (e.g., marketing issues, aquaculture, dairy, eggs, etc.), crops (e.g., corn, cotton, sugar), farm economy (e.g., farm labor, federal tax, land use), farm practices and management (e.g., biotechnology, irrigation), food and nutrition assistance (e.g., SNAP, WIC, food security, child nutrition), food choices and health (e.g., obesity, access to food, food labeling), food markets and prices (e.g., local food movement, food consumption), international markets (e.g., trade policy, global food security), natural resources and environment (e.g., climate change, conservation programs, organic agriculture), and rural economics (e.g., migration, rural poverty).