Agricultural Policy Review home

Articles from Fall 2014

Food Safety Modernization Act: The Case for Complementary Public Regulation and Private Standards

Sebastien Pouliot (pouliot@iastate.edu) and Helen H. Jensen (hhjensen@iastate.edu)
President Obama signed into law the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 (FSMA) in January 2011. FSMA is a set of regulations that modifies U.S. food safety laws and extends their scope. FSMA is considered to be the first major reform of U.S. food safety laws since 1938. FSMA specifically targets products that are under the jurisdiction of FDA and thus impacts products such as produce, dairy, seafood, fresh eggs and eggs used as ingredients. The stated objective of FSMA is to shift the focus from response to food contamination to prevention.

Weather Adjusted Yield Trends for Corn: A Look at Iowa

Lisha Li (lisa1107@iastate.edu), Dermot Hayes (dhayes@iastate.edu), and Chad Hart (chart@iastate.edu)
Yield growth in agricultural crops is of importance to those who make long-term projections of food availability and price levels. Menz and Pardey (1983) found that the trend growth in corn yields was lower in the 1970s than in the previous two decades. Tannura, Irwin, and Scott (2008) cited a number of crop experts and seed companies who believe that improved technology, particularity biotechnology, will increase the rate of yield growth in corn. Yu and Babcock (2010) found that percentage losses due to drought have been reduced over time, offsetting one of the major impediments to stronger yield growth. However, other researchers have argued that climate change will slow or even reverse the rate of yield growth (World Bank 2013).

Crop Insurance in Iowa

Alejandro Plastina (plastina@iastate.edu) and Chad Hart (chart@iastate.edu)
Farmers across the nation rely heavily on crop insurance as a risk management tool—in Iowa alone over 93 percent of corn and soybean planted area was insured in 2014, but that participation rate hasn’t always been the case. Participation in crop insurance declined substantially in the early 1990s after the mandate that required producers to purchase crop insurance in 1989 and 1990 to collect drought assistance in 1988 dissipated.

Strong Demand, but Inconsistent Profitability

Chad Hart (chart@iastate.edu) and Lee Schulz (lschulz@iastate.edu)
With the arrival of fall, the leaves change, the temperatures drop, and agricultural producers prepare for the winter ahead. This winter looks to be a reversal of fortunes across the agricultural complex. Over the past few years, crop producers have enjoyed record prices and profits, while livestock producers have suffered from high feed costs and negative returns. Now, several sectors of the livestock industry are looking forward to strong prices and good profitability. Meanwhile, the crop sector is staring at the lowest returns in several years. While there are some key differences in the structure of crop and livestock markets, the one similarity they share right now is strong demand for agricultural products.

Price Expectations and Risk Profiles Drive Commodity Program Choices

Alejandro Plastina (plastina@iastate.edu) and Chad Hart (chart@iastate.edu)
The optimal commodity program choice depends as much on the specific production system in each farm as on the producer’s expectations about future yields and prices. Furthermore, the risk profile of producers will weigh heavily in the decision. This article illustrates the role of price expectations and risk profiles in commodity program choice using the ISU Farm Bill Analyzer (MS Excel file).