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APR: Fall 2013 Articles

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The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy to Address Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia

Catherine L. Kling
Since 1985, the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico has been measured every July via a cruise on the Pelican, a ship operated by the Louisiana University Marine Consortium under the direction of Dr. Nancy Rabalais. The hypoxic zone, colloquially referred to as the “dead zone,” is an area where nutrient-enriched waters coming from freshwater rivers and streams in the watershed cause excess growth of plants which, in turn, deplete oxygen levels as they decompose. The extent of oxygen depletion is nearly complete in that it creates unsuitable habitat for animals living in the region. The result of this year’s annual cruise indicated an area of low oxygen level of about 5,800 square miles, an area roughly three times as large as the targeted goal. A significant source of the nutrients that flow into the Gulf originate from agricultural sources, specifically row crop land in the corn belt.

Country Of Origin Labeling: Who Wants It?

Sebastien Pouliot
After years of discussions, compromises, and revisions, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published the final interim rule on August 1, 2008, regarding Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). Full enforcement of COOL began on March 16, 2009.

Agricultural Trade Opportunities with China

Dermot J. Hayes
China now produces about 52 million tons of pork and 14 million tons of poultry per year. Increased consumer demand, a reduction of available producers and available land, disease, and other factors all contributed to a spike in pork prices in the summer of 2008 and 2011. The Government responded to these price increases by allowing for short term, massive increases in meat imports. It must now decide whether it wishes to achieve food security and affordability by allowing imports to moderate price levels or to target meat self-sufficiency by means of trade barriers.

The School Meals Program

Helen H. Jensen
The National School Meals Programs affect the lives of almost all school children in the United States today. The National School Lunch Program, available in 99% of US public schools and 83% of private and public schools combined, serves over 31 million school children on a typical school day—nearly 64% of school-age children. The total federal cost of the School Meals Programs was $14.9 billion in 2012, and most of the funding is provided to school districts through federal reimbursement for free and reduced-price meals, with cash payments for the National School Lunch Program representing about 70% of the total federal funding for the school food programs. Children from households with incomes at or below 130% of poverty can receive a “free” lunch and those from households with incomes between 130% and 185% of poverty can receive a “reduced-price” lunch. During the 2013–2014 school year, the basic cash reimbursement for lunch is set at $2.93 for free lunches, $2.53 for reduced-price lunches, and $0.28 for other qualifying lunches. In addition, schools participating in the National School Lunch Program receive USDA Foods (“entitlement” foods) valued at 22.75 cents in school year 2013 for each lunch served.

Demand for Iowa’s Agricultural Products

Chad Hart and Lee Schulz
Demand is a subject talked about a lot in agricultural circles—moving farm products through wholesalers to retail markets, demand can shift based on economic conditions, trade policies, and consumer tastes and preferences. For the livestock side of agriculture, demand is typically evaluated at two levels—the wholesale level for animals and retail level for meat. For livestock, demand is usually measured in terms of inflation-adjusted value of the industry. For meat, demand is measured in terms of inflation-adjusted value of per capita meat consumption. For crops, tracked by the bushel, demand is measured at the product’s first use. As a regular feature of the Ag Policy Review, we will track agricultural demands for livestock and crops and explore the reasons for shifts in demand. First, we will look back over the last decade to see how agricultural demand has already changed.

Greetings from CARD!

CARD researchers and affiliates have a long tradition of developing and applying the tools of economics to create knowledge that supports good agricultural policy, and to help us continue in that tradition we have created the Agricultural Policy Review. I am delighted that economics faculty with extension appointments will join CARD faculty and staff in producing a timely, relevant publication that I am confident readers interested in many facets of agricultural policy including energy, nutrition, food security, international trade, and the environment will find highly valuable. Our goal for the Agricultural Policy Review is to create a publication that is not only succinct and timely but also two directional—an outreach publication to disseminate information from CARD researchers to readers, and in turn, from readers to us.

Ask an Ag Economist

If Iowa is the leader in corn production and has a poor corn crop, how can there be a bumper crop for the nation?