The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University conducts innovative public policy and economic research on local, regional, and global agricultural issues. CARD uses contemporary and time-honored economic theories, quantitative methods, and interdisciplinary approaches to inform, engage, and benefit society.
CARD’s research focuses on six key areas—biorenewables, resources and the environment, food and nutrition, agricultural risk management, science and technology, and trade and agriculture. Research initiatives at CARD focus on the economic, environmental, and societal impacts of policy topics such as the cost-effectiveness of the Clean Water Act, changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, adjustments to trade tariffs, changes to the EFNEP and SNAP programs, carbon sequestration, and the use of neonicotinoids in agriculture, to name a few. The Center is also responsible for the Iowa Lakes Valuation Project and the annual Iowa Land Value Survey, which is one of the longest-running research projects at the university.
CARD communicates research findings with state and federal policymakers, the research community, agricultural, food, and environmental groups, individual decision makers, and local and global audiences.
CARD is located in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Iowa State University. CARD is one of several centers that support CALS’ mission. The CARD Director reports to the Senior Associate Dean of CALS. See the CALS organizational chart for more information. Sixteen faculty members, supported by seven full-time staff, conduct research at the center. Grants obtained through governmental agencies such as USDA, NSF, and EPA, state agencies, and university research initiatives help support our research.
In 2017, CARD faculty began working closely with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences on a joint research project. The collaboration led to the creation of the Center for China-U.S. Agricultural Economics and Policy. The Center hosts several visiting scholars from China that collaborate with CARD faculty researching economic policies that affect both China and the United States.
In 1956, a group of Iowa farmers addressed James Hilton and Floyd Andre—then president of Iowa State College and the dean of agriculture, respectively—about the college’s role in finding solutions to the problems they faced. In 1958, Early Heady became the first director of the newly formed Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, and began using quantitative analysis to study agricultural policies and the problems—especially the unintended consequences—they can create.
For over 60 years, CARD’s mission has remained the same. However, our approach to our mission has evolved to meet the new challenges facing agriculture and farmers in the United States. The Center’s history and evolution have been documented in CARD: The First Ten Years, CARD: 1985-1996, and CARD’s 50th Anniversary: Taking Stock of Our Past--and Future.