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APR: Fall 2015 Articles

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A New Risk Management Tool for Crop Producers

Dermot J. Hayes (
A new crop insurance product, “Margin Protection,” was introduced by the USDA this fall. The product provides corn and soybean producers in Iowa (and rice and wheat producers in selected states) with a margin guarantee. The product was developed by economists at Iowa State and Watts and Associates in Bozeman, Montana. The sales closing date for MP in Iowa is September 30.

The Unintended Consequences of Household Phosphate Bans

Alex Cohen ( and David Keiser (
In 2010, seventeen US states implemented mandatory bans on the sale of phosphates in automatic dishwasher detergent, due to concern over the adverse effects that arise from excess phosphorus loads to our lakes, rivers, and streams.1 Excess phosphorus can lead to harmful algal blooms, excessive aquatic plant growth, and alterations to the composition of aquatic species, among other changes. Accordingly, the US EPA considers nutrient pollution to be one of the most important environmental challenges we face in the twenty-first century (USEPA 2009). Effectively and efficiently addressing this challenge requires a sound understanding of phosphorus control policies. We find that the effectiveness of these bans to reduce phosphorus pollution is highly dependent upon regulations that are in place at wastewater treatment facilities and that pre-existing regulations at certain wastewater treatment facilities render these bans ineffective precisely in the areas in which phosphorus pollution is most problematic.

The Commonalities and Differences between Chinese and U.S. Agriculture

Wendong Zhang (
With one in four rows of soybeans planted in Iowa exported to China, it is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the Chinese economy and its consumers have for US agricultural producers and the farm sector in general. However, there is a lack of understanding of China’s agricultural industry and, in particular, the life and work of a typical Chinese agricultural producer. Having been born and raised in a rural Chinese county, I want to share some of my observations regarding the commonalities and differences between Chinese and US agriculture.

China’s Importance in U.S. Ag Markets

Chad Hart ( and Lee Schulz (
There’s been a lot of news about China in the last few weeks, from their currency devaluation to significant stock market fluctuations to recent agricultural purchase agreements. Many of these news stories try to address the question of the importance of China to the US economy and assess the impact of Chinese economic shifts on the United States. For agriculture, the importance of the Chinese market has grown significantly over the past decade; however, the impact is targeted at specific sectors within agriculture.

Degraded Water Quality in Lakes: Consequences for Use

Hocheol Jeon (, Catherine L. Kling (, and Yongjie Ji (
Iowa, like many states in the Midwest, suffers from poor water quality. Excess nutrients in the state’s lakes and streams contribute to odor, limited clarity, excess algae and plant growth, and can contribute to a number of other undesirable changes to habitat and water quality. These changes, in turn, can reduce the usage and enjoyment of lakes and streams. Likewise, improvements in water quality brought about by reduced nutrient pollution or lake improvement projects can increase the number of visitors and their enjoyment of natural environments. To better understand what Iowans value about their natural environment and how changes in water quality and other factors alter that value, the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), with funding from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the US Environmental Protection Agency, initiated a set of household surveys in 2002.