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APR: Fall 2018 Articles

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World’s Largest Pork Producer in Crisis: China’s African Swine Fever Outbreak

Yongtong Shao, Minghao Li, Wendong Zhang, Yongjie Ji, and Dermot Hayes
After suffering a major blow from trade disruptions with China and Mexico, U.S. pork producers are keeping close watch on African Swine Fever in China and other countries. The first case of African Swine Fever in China was confirmed August 2, 2018 in the northeastern city of Shenyang. According to our information, by the end of October 2018, there were 45 cases of ASF in China with 5,439 pigs infected and 3,841 pigs dead.

Using Markets to Balance Agricultural Expansion and Forest Conservation

Guilherme DePaula and Leandro Justino
How can we balance agricultural expansion and forest conservation in developing countries? Brazil has a productive agricultural sector with potential for expansion and a rich endowment of natural vegetation resources located on private land. According to the last Agricultural Census, Brazilian farms possessed about 98.5 million hectares of forestland, a little less than the combined land area of France and Germany. In 1975, when agricultural production was concentrated in southeast Brazil, about 60 percent of farmland was native vegetation. However, since then, technological change and market reforms have enabled national agricultural expansion. By 2006, the share of native vegetation within private properties had decreased to 46 percent.

The Blessing and Curse of Productivity

Lee Schulz and Chad Hart
Can you have too much of a good thing? In the case of agricultural products, the answer from a market perspective is yes. Over the past six years, the United States has produced a series of bumper crops, greatly expanded pork production, and seen a significant rebound in beef production. But those production gains have come at the cost of lower prices and incomes. Arguably the largest challenge in agricultural markets today is finding enough demand growth to keep pace with production increases.

The Costs and Benefits of Nutrient Reduction Programs

Chuan Tang, Yau-Huo Shr, Gabriel E. Lade, David Keiser, and Catherine Kling
In the fall of 1997, the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force was established to better understand and address hypoxia concerns in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2008, the Task Force released an action plan outlining a national strategy to tackle recurrent hypoxic conditions in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and improve water quality in the Mississippi River Basin. The report suggests that at least a 45 percent reduction in riverine total nitrogen and phosphorus is needed in order to control the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Complementary efforts by EPA have encouraged individual states to establish frameworks to reduce nutrient pollution in their states. The EPA underscores that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution could become “one of the costliest and the most challenging environmental problems [in the United States].”