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How much can the Sodsaver Provision in the 2014 Farm Bill save sod? It depends on crop prices.

Established in the 2008 Farm Bill and re-authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, the Sodsaver Provision aims to dis-incentivize converting native grassland to cropland by restricting crop insurance coverage or premium subsidy to cropland that is newly converted from native sod.  We recently published a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics that […]

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Why will the coming years see more interest for interstate food supply linkages?

Why should a cattle rancher in Texas care about a severe drought hitting the Corn Belt states? Although genuine sympathy could be part of the answer, the main reason might be less charitable: cattle farmers in Texas are major buyers of corn from the Midwest. A drought in the Corn Belt would increase the corn […]

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To Harvest Stover or Not: Is it Worth it?

Corn stover is a readily available source of biomass for the production of biofuels. Three U.S. refineries – Poet, Abengoa and Dupont – are converting it at commercial scale to biofuel. These biofuel facilities partner and contract with farmers to procure the stover feedstock used in processing. Farmers face a choice of whether or not […]

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Questioning the Final RFS Rule, Part 2: the Meaning of the Word “Supply”

This article continues the discussion of EPA’s final rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The previous article in this series provided background on the RFS and a general review of the final rule. This article looks specifically at EPA’s interpretation of the word “supply” in the waiver provision “inadequate domestic supply” and what Congress […]

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Questioning the Final RFS Rule, Part 1: the Rule and Background

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published the final rule that establishes the volume requirements for calendar years 2014, 2015, and 2016 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Previous discussions about EPA’s arguments for use of the general waiver authority in the RFS statute reviewed a leaked version of the proposed rule and the proposed […]

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Redirected flood waters lead to unintended consequences

An intricate system of basins, channels, and levees called the Headwaters Diversion carries water from the eastern Missouri Ozark Plateau to the Mississippi River south of Cape Girardeau. The system protects 1.2 million acres of agricultural lands in southeast Missouri from both overflow from the Mississippi River during flooding events and from Ozark Plateau runoff. […]

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Holiday Spirits: Notes from the Bourbon Trail

Good fortune recently provided me a brief, pre-holiday detour on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail with my dad and brothers. The amber of the value-added agricultural products and the informative tours included a few interesting bits of farm policy and history – starting with the fact that our visit (unintentionally) coincided with the 82nd anniversary of the […]

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Can peers help improve crop revenues in villages in India?

Why do some farmers earn more than others? Scholars have worked to explain the large observed differences in economic outcomes across firms, households, and industries. In developing countries, where small farmers often face limited access to agricultural markets, their agricultural revenues can vary dramatically within the same region, even after accounting for differences in capital […]

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Wetter Wet Seasons, Drier Dry Seasons Harm Agriculture and Fuel Conflict in Asia

Climate change is set to disrupt weather patterns in many parts of the world. Many places will become hotter on average, some will see more rainfall than they used to, others less. But changes to average temperatures and precipitation are not the only thing we should worry about. Recent evidence shows that, over the past […]

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Small Farmer Fertilizer Subsidies and Child Health — Evidence from Malawi

In a previous post I wrote about the potential significance of new “smart subsidies” for agricultural inputs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Zambia, Tanzania, and Malawi have initiated such programs to help populations of small farmers acquire mineral fertilizer and hybrid seed at a lower cost. One key objective is to increase staple cereal yields from these […]

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