ISU Economists Use Survey of Iowa Grain Handlers to Study Crop Segregation Costs

Researchers in ISU's Department of Economics and Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) are using responses from a 2002 survey of Iowa grain handlers to study issues that arise in the handling of specialty crops and those free of genetically modified (GM) materials. Nearly 18 percent of firms surveyed reported handling specialty grains. One important issue is the added costs of differentiating products. On average, firms reported costs of 32¢ per bushel for handling. In a preliminary analysis of the data, the ISU researchers find that significant differences in specialty crop handling costs and investment exist between cooperative handlers and privately held firms and corporations. Subsequent work will address reasons for these differences. More analysis of the survey data is planned to help sort out the industry effects of providing new systems for segregating non-GM and specialty crops. A paper describing the preliminary study, "Product Differentiation and Segregation in Agricultural Systems." Contact John Miranowski, 515-294-6132, Helen Jensen, 515-294-6253, or Sandy Clarke, CARD communications, 515-294-6257.

(Released April 2004)