Scholarly Works, Agricultural and Applied Economics

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Research articles, presentations, and other scholarship


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  • Trends, Insights, and Future Prospects for Production in Controlled Environment Agriculture and Agrivoltaics Systems
    Dohlman, Erik; Maguire, Karen; Davis, Wilma V.; Husby, Megan; Bovay, John; Weber, Catharine; Lee, Yoonjung (2024-01-11)
    Investments in alternative food production systems by public and private entities have increased in recent years. Two systems, controlled environment agriculture (CEA) and agrivoltaics (AV), have been highlighted for their potential to provide socioeconomic benefits beyond food production. CEA is the use of enclosed structures—including hydroponic and vertical farming structures—for growing crops, primarily specialty crops. CEA may provide access to local production of nutritious food in communities that lack space for traditional outdoor production, improve access to local foods in urban areas, and serve as a potential tool for adapting to or mitigating climate change. The CEA sector is expanding in large part due to technological advancements. The number of CEA operations more than doubled between 2009 and 2019. Further, more than 60 percent of production for some prominent CEA crops (primarily vegetables) were grown using nontraditional technological systems in 2019. AV is the colocation of agricultural production and solar panels. AV may allow for expanded solar development to address climate change without land use conflicts associated with traditional large-scale solar developments. As of 2021, most AV sites were solar farms planted with pollinator-friendly vegetative cover that, in some cases, were grazed by sheep. Funding for research on a variety of AV systems with specialty crop and/or livestock production continues to increase.
  • Achieving Water Quality Goals in the Chesapeake Bay: A Comprehensive Evaluation of System Response
    Scientific & Technical Advisory Committee (EPA, Chesapeake Bay Program, Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, 2023-05-04)
  • Battling bots: Experiences and strategies to mitigate fraudulent responses in online surveys
    Goodrich, Brittney; Fenton, Marieke; Penn, Jerrod; Bovay, John; Mountain, Travis (Wiley, 2023-06)
    Declining survey response rates have driven many researchers to seek out cost-effective methods of increasing participation, such as conducting surveys online, paying incentives, and using social media to engage hard-to-reach populations. Malicious actors can exploit the monetary incentives and anonymity of online surveys, threatening the integrity of survey data. We share two recent experiences conducting online surveys that were inundated with fraudulent responses. Our objective is to increase awareness of this emerging issue and offer guidance for others to mitigate the effects of fraudulent responders in their own research.
  • Economic impact of nature-based tourism
    Gupta, Anubhab; Zhu, Heng; Bhammar, Hasita; Earley, Elisabeth; Filipski, Mateusz; Narain, Urvashi; Spencer, Phoebe; Whitney, Edward; Taylor, J. Edward (Public Library of Science, 2023-04)
    Protected areas (PAs) can help address biodiversity loss by promoting conservation while fostering economic development through sustainable tourism. Nature-based tourism can generate economic benefits for communities in and around PAs; however, its impacts do not lend themselves to conventional impact evaluation tools. We utilize a Monte Carlo simulation approach with econometric estimations using microdata to estimate the full economic impact of nature-based tourism on the economies surrounding three terrestrial and two marine PAs. Simulations suggest that nature-based tourism creates significant economic benefits for communities around PAs, including the poorest households, and many of these benefits are indirect, via income and production spillovers. An additional tourist increases annual real income in communities near the PAs by US$169-$2,400, significantly more than the average tourist's expenditure. Conversely, lost tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic costs of human-wildlife conflict have disproportionately large negative impacts on local incomes.
  • An Integrated Pest Management Program Outperforms Conventional Practices for Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) in Cambodia
    Porras, Mitzy F.; Malacrino, Antonino; An, Chanratha; Seng, Kim Hian; Socheath, Ong; Norton, George; Miller, Sally; Rosa, Cristina; Rajotte, Edwin G.; O'Rourke, Megan E. (American Phytopathological Society, 2022-04)
    For several years, pest management in tomato production in Cambodia has generally focused on the use of synthetic pesticides. We compared conventional pest management (farmers' traditional practices) with an integrated pest management (IPM) program on 12 farms in the northwestern part of Cambodia. The IPM program combined cultural, biological, and chemical practices. We found that IPM practices reduced aphid damage by 46%, and diseases such as Fusarium wilt and damping-off were substantially reduced. Our results indicate that the IPM package increased tomato yield and income by an average of 23 and 34%, respectively, compared with conventional practices during both dry and rainy seasons.
  • Nitrogen Management Can Increase Potato Yields and Food Security for Climate Change Adaptation in the Andean Region
    Delgado, Jorge A.; Barrera, Victor H.; Alwang, Jeffrey R.; Cartagena, Yamil E.; Escudero, Luis O.; Neer, Donna; D'Adamo, Robert; Zapata, Angelica C. (Springer, 2023-04)
    The Andean region of Ecuador is being impacted by climate change, and improved best management practices for agriculture are needed to increase yields and food security. We conducted a study comparing different nitrogen (N) rates to determine the optimum N application rate for potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) systems in this region. We examined five application rates of N: 0, 100, 200, 300, and 400 kg N ha(- 1). The results suggest that an N application rate of 300 kg N ha(- 1) increased productivity and net income by 87% and 146%, respectively, compared to no application of N. We transferred these improved practices to farmers, and all farms increased their yields and net economic returns. The average yields and net economic returns for these farmers increased by 50% and 64%, respectively. Additional N use efficiency (NUE) studies are needed to continue increasing yields and economic returns for farmers in the Andean region.
  • Outstanding in the Field: Impacts of Public Small Grains Breeding in Virginia
    Garber, Ben; Alwang, Jeffrey R.; Norton, George W. (Cambridge University Press, 2022-11)
    New production from public and exclusive varieties released by the small grains breeding program at Virginia Tech generated cumulative discounted benefits of $41 million from 2000 to 2018. Fitted yields from field trials were combined with acreage estimates to generate weighted average yields based on adoption of new varieties. Benefits were estimated as the value of additional production from the release and adoption of improved varieties. Public varieties were responsible for most program benefits. The program was found to have a significant impact in Virginia and out-of-state, with much of these benefits due to public-private collaboration.
  • Why Gender Matters in Breeding: Lessons from Cooking Bananas in Uganda
    Nasirumbi Sanya, Losira; Ssali, Reuben Tendo; Namuddu, Mary Gorreth; Kyotalimye, Miriam; Marimo, Pricilla; Mayanja, Sarah (MDPI, 2023-04-22)
    This study examined the gender-differentiated trait preferences of cooking banana (matooke) for farmers and consumers in Central Uganda to inform banana-breeding strategies. Women and men banana farmers might have differing production objectives, norms, and values which drive decisions on which varieties to adopt and grow. However, breeders rarely consider this in their variety development programs, leading to lost opportunities for equitable breeding. An exploratory sequential mixed-method approach was used to obtain a richer understanding of the trait preferences of women and men, which explains the acceptability of cooking bananas. Consumer preference tests for the candidate banana varieties and released hybrids were also conducted. The results showed that the universal attributes for variety selection were bunch size, taste, resistance to pests and diseases, drought tolerance, food texture/softness, maturity period, and finger size. Men appreciated agronomic and market-related traits, such as tolerance to drought and poor soils, bunch size and compactness, maturity period, and shelf life, while women valued processing and cooking traits such as flavour, food colour, ease of peeling, finger size, and agronomic traits such as plant height. These are plausible attributes for the gender-responsive breeding of bananas. The findings highlight the need to redesign the banana-breeding pipeline and process in Uganda to deliver varieties with attributes desired by women and men along this commodity value chain. A participatory demand-driven and gender-responsive process involving stepwise selection criteria that commences with quality traits followed by production traits while integrating gender-specific preferences should be employed to ensure the acceptability of cooking banana hybrids by women and men end users. This requires integrating different disciplines, including social scientists and gender experts, along the entire breeding process for more inclusive products and equitable outcomes.
  • US grass-fed beef premiums
    Wang, Yangchuan; Isengildina-Massa, Olga; Stewart, Shamar (Wiley, 2022-12)
    This study examined monthly retail-level price premiums for grass-fed beef (relative to conventional grain-fed beef) in the United States from 2014 through 2021. We found that premiums were heterogeneous, with premium cuts, such as sirloin steak, tenderloin, ribeye and filet mignon enjoying the highest premiums. Premiums were not consistent with price levels, as the lowest premiums were observed for short ribs, skirt steak and flank steak. Our findings suggest that grass-fed beef price premiums were negatively affected by the consumption of food away from home. Changes in income, increased information about taste, protein and minerals, fat, revocation of the USDA grass-fed certification program in 2016 and COVID-19 pandemic, also affected premiums for several individual cuts. Premiums were not sensitive to changes in information about climate change.
  • COVID-19-Related Financial Scarcity is Associated with Greater Delay Discounting But Not Probability Discounting
    Downey, Haylee; Freitas-Lemos, Roberta; Curran, Kelsey M.; Serrano, Elena L.; Davis, George C.; Stein, Jeffrey S. (2023-01-01)
    Prior laboratory studies suggest that scarcity increases delay discounting (devaluation of delayed outcomes) and disturbs other decision-making processes. Recent evidence on the effect of COVID-19 on delay discounting is mixed. In addition, no study has examined the effect of COVID-19-related scarcity on probability discounting (devaluation of probabilistic outcomes). The present study examined cross-sectional associations between COVID-19-related scarcity, delay discounting, and probability discounting. During April 2020, 1012 participants with low income were recruited on Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) and completed measures of delay and probability discounting of money and food (grocery gift card), COVID-19-related financial impacts, stress, and food security. Regression analyses indicate that compared to those with no COVID-19 related financial impacts, those with severe COVID-19 related financial impacts had greater delay discounting of money and greater delay discounting of food. In addition, greater food insecurity in the past month was associated with greater delay discounting of food but not money. COVID-19 related financial impact was not associated with probability discounting of money or probability discounting of food. Combined with laboratory experiments, the present study provides additional support for the idea that scarcity or income shock may increase delay discounting, particularly during the onset of COVID-19.
  • Utilisation des médias par les jeunes et perceptions sur le climat et pratiques agricoles
    Sembene, Maguette; Mbaye, Tamsir; Toure, Katim; Mills, Bradford (2022-06-01)
    Cette note de recherche a pour objectif i) d’analyser l'utilisation des médias par les jeunes adultes (télévision, radio et médias sociaux), ii) d’observer les perceptions climatiques des jeunes adultes et les stratégies d'adaptation mises en place et iii) examiner les fromes d’utilisation des médias et d'autres variables comme des stratégies d'adaptation au climat.
  • Utilisation des variétés améliorées dans le bassin arachidier du Sénégal
    Toure, Katim; Mbaye, Tamsir; Diatta, Pierre; Fonceka, Daniel; Faye, Issa; Mills, Bradford (2022-06-01)
    Cette note de recherche détaille l'utilisation par les agriculteurs des variétés d'arachide au coeur du bassin arachidier. Plus précisément, nous examinons les variétés d'arachides utilisées par les agriculteurs de la région, la manière dont les variétés sont obtenues et les rendements estimés des variétés au champ.
  • Accès aux champs et productivité dans le bassin arachidier du Sénégal
    Mills, Bradford; Kakpo, Ange (2022-06-01)
    L'accès aux terres arables pour la production agricole est de plus en plus menacé en Afrique subsaharienne (ASS) à cause de disponibilités foncières de plus en plus réduites. Cette faible disponibilité en terres peut exacerber les disparités suivant l’âge et le sexe en matière d'accès à la terre et de productivité agricole. La présente note de recherche vise à examiner les déterminants de l'accès des membres du ménage aux terres pour la culture de l’arachide dans le bassin arachidier du Sénégal, et les implications d'un accès limité à la terre pour la productivité des jeunes et des femmes producteurs d'arachide. Dans cette étude, on entend par jeune, un homme ou une femme ayant entre 16 et 29 ans.
  • Biais d'estimation de la taille des champs d'arachide
    Toure, Katim; Mills, Bradford; Mbaye, Tamsir; Diatta, Pierre (2022-06-01)
    Cette note de recherche examine l'exactitude des estimations de la taille des champs autodéclarées par les chefs de ménage en tant que méthode pour établir la taille des champs d'arachide dans le bassin arachidier du Sénégal. Nous trouvons un lien significatif entre les estimations autodéclarées de la taille du champ et la taille mesurée, mais la précision des estimations de la taille du champ peut être encore améliorée en demandant des informations supplémentaires sur le membre du ménage qui gère les champs et sur la quantité de semences d'arachide utilisées dans les champs.
  • Gestion de la matière organique du sol dans le bassin arachidier du Sénégal
    Mbaye, Tamsir; Mills, Bradford; Toure, Katim; Sembene, Maguette; Diatta, Pierre; Diédhiou, Ibrahima (2022-06-01)
    Cette note de recherche examine les pratiques actuelles de gestion de la fertilité des sols et les contraintes à une gestion efficace de la matière organique du sol. Les contraintes de gestion de la fertilité des sols des jeunes (16 à 29 ans) et des femmes sont mises en évidence. La note discute ensuite des interventions potentielles pour permettre aux agriculteurs d'améliorer les pratiques de gestion des sols à court et à long terme.
  • Are US consumers willing to pay a premium for bee-friendly beef?
    Larochelle, Catherine; Chishimba, Elizabeth (AgEcon, 2022-08-01)
    The loss in biodiversity has resulted in a decline in bee populations which threatens our food production systems due to the reliance of wild plants and agricultural crops on bee pollination services. Thus, the restoration of pollinator habitats calls for concerted efforts from all actors, including producers, retailers and consumers. This study examines consumer willingness to pay for bee-friendly beef using data from a nationwide choice experiment survey of 2,162 U.S. beef consumers. Using a fully correlated mixed logit regression we show that U.S. beef consumers prefer bee-friendly ground beef compared to conventional ground beef and are willing to pay $1.06 - $2.36 more per pound for bee-friendly ground beef. The willingness to pay value varies depending on whether beef consumers donate or volunteer to an environmental organization, are knowledgeable about pollinator population decline, feel they have a role to play in restoring pollinator populations or if the beef consumer considers the environmental impact of food production when purchasing food. The analysis from this study identifies one incentive that can be used to encourage beef producers to contribute to the restoration of pollinator populations by adopting and maintaining wildflower-enhanced pastures on their ranches.
  • Economic impact of giving land to refugees
    Zhu, Heng; Gupta, Anubhab; Filipski, Mateusz; Valli, Jaakko; Gonzalez-Estrada, Ernesto; Taylor, J. Edward (Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, 2023-01-19)
    This paper adds to a sparse but growing literature on the economic costs and benefits of hosting refugees, including a unique policy of providing refugees with access to cultivable land. We construct a general equilibrium model from microsurvey data to simulate the spillover effects of giving land to refugees on income and production in the host-country economy surrounding a refugee settlement in Uganda. Reduced-form econometric analysis of land allocations at the refugee settlement, robust to several specifications, confirms the simulation finding that providing refugees with agricultural land significantly improves their welfare and self-reliance. Simulations reveal that refugee aid and land allocations generate positive income spillovers in the local economy out to a 15-km radius around the refugee settlement. Host-country households benefit significantly from the income spillovers that refugee assistance creates, and host-country agriculture is the largest beneficiary among production sectors.
  • Viewpoint: An Assessment of Recent SNAP Benefit Increases Allowing for Money and Time Variability
    Davis, George C. (2022-01-03)
    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the largest welfare safety nets in the United States. The purpose of SNAP is to provide low-income eligible families with sufficient funds to reach the cost of a nutritious diet. To mitigate the effects of COVID-19, the maximum SNAP benefits were temporarily increased through September 2021 by a total of 20.3%. On October 1, 2021 the maximum SNAP benefits were permanently increased by 21% from the pre-pandemic levels. A sizeable literature had shown that the pre-pandemic maximum benefit levels were insufficient to reach the full cost of a nutritious diet because individuals spent an insufficient amount of time in food production. This viewpoint considers the question: Are those increases in the maximum SNAP benefits enough to reach the full cost of a nutritious diet when we account for possible changes in home food production labor? In light of the recent pandemic-induced labor market disruptions, this research assesses the needs for additional time inputs to the pre-pandemic food production time amounts given different levels of maximum SNAP benefit adjustments in order to reach the ‘full’ cost of a nutritious diet. We evaluate the feasibility of meeting those additional time needs in the context of reallocating portions of the ‘windfall’ of time normally devoted to working and commuting before the pandemic. Focusing on single headed households we find the temporary 20.3% and the permanent 21% increase both would have to be matched by an increase of about 9 hrs per week in food production in order to reach the full cost of a nutritious diet. This increase seems very unlikely based on historical time allocation patterns. More is needed to be done to increase SNAP benefit adequacy either through further increases to benefit levels and/or through education and outreach efforts designed to improve skills of home meal preparation and time management.
  • The Impact of Recreational Homes on Agricultural Land Use
    Towe, Charles; Chen, Zhenshan (2023-02-01)
    When nonresidents purchase agricultural properties, the land use decision can make farmland operate below potential, still allowing for tax credits. We empirically investigate how nonresident ownership affects the agricultural land use decisions in upstate New York. A difference-in-difference matching approach shows a causal link between purchases by nonresidents and a loss of 11% of acreage to a lower-productivity use. A generalization shows this conversion counts for one-seventh of the decreased agricultural land in intensive uses in similar counties. Perhaps a simple opportunistic use of the tax-credit criteria, this phenomenon contradicts the policy’s objective and might impose other consequences on rural communities.
  • Reversing the Tide: Reducing Poverty and Boosting Resilience in Zimbabwe
    Sharma, Dhiraj; Alwang, Jeffrey R.; Chingozha, Tawanda; Hoy, Christopher; Kurasha, Flora; Paez Rodas, Ananda (World Bank, 2022-10-01)
    Despite an improvement in human development indicators since 2010, the extreme poverty rate in Zimbabwe increased steadily in the 2010s, climbing from 23 percent in 2010/11 to 30 percent in 2017, 38 percent in 2019, and reaching a peak of 49 percent in 2020 soon after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Zimbabwe Poverty Assessment report, the first since 1996, explores how poverty and inequality have evolved in Zimbabwe in recent years, shedding light on the main forces shaping their progression. It identifies four main proximate causes of the increase in poverty: macroeconomic instability and inflation, natural shocks, slow spatial and structural transformation, and exogenous shocks such as the pandemic. Among the policy priorities for poverty reduction are improving agricultural productivity, increasing the resilience of smallholder farmers to climate change, carrying out reforms for structural transformation of the economy, planning organized urbanization, and strengthening the social assistance system to make it more shock responsive.