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APR: Winter 2023 Articles

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Climate Change and Aflatoxin in Corn

Jina Yu, David Hennessy, Jesse Tack, and Felicia Wu
There are many possible impacts of climate change on field crop production including nuanced effects through impacts on grain composition, safety, and quality. When conditions are warm and dry in mid-summer and the crop is stressed, Aspergillus flavus can colonize the corn ear, feeding on kernels and producing aflatoxins. The resulting grain is not just waste—the toxins will cause morbidity and even mortality at high doses when fed to almost any species. Changing summertime weather patterns in the US central Corn Belt can provide an opening for increased aflatoxin damage in corn and Illinois will see a large increase in damage done, as will Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.

World Spending on Agricultural Research and Development

Alejandro Plastina and Terry Townsend
In May 2020, the US Department of Agriculture reported that China, followed by the European Union, the United States, India, and Brazil spent the most public funds on agricultural research and development. However, US public expenditures on agricultural R&D were about one-third lower in real terms in 2019 than at their peak in 2002. In contrast to the decline in US public expenditures since 2002, China’s public expenditures on agricultural R&D rose by a factor of approximately five in the two decades since 2000. EU expenditures rose by about one-third, India’s approximately doubled, and Brazil’s rose by about half. Accordingly, the United States’ advantage in agricultural productivity is less now than a decade ago.

USDA's Outlook for 2023

Lee Schulz and Chad Hart
Every year, the US Department of Agriculture brings together industry, academic, and government experts to discuss the major agricultural issues of the day and examine the near-term market outlook for agriculture. This year’s forum follows two of the best years ever for net farm income when farmers across the nation captured higher prices and returns for most commodities. However, with concerns about recession and inflation dominating the general economic discussion, the projections for 2023 highlight some challenges for agriculture in the year ahead.

Declining Firm Entry and Self-Employment in Small Markets

Peter F. Orazem and John V. Winters
The pace of new firm entry has declined in the United States over the past 30 years, falling from an average of 15.6% in 1978 to 10% in 2000, and to 8.2% in 2019. The declining pace of firm entry has important consequences for employment and economic growth with new establishments being responsible for about one-third of new job creation. How can small towns attract new firms? Iowa small towns that have had the highest start-up rates since 1994 had relatively educated populations, higher per capita incomes, more diverse local economies, and local availability of customers and input suppliers. These factors were too important to be counteracted by local tax or subsidy policies.