In February, after nearly three years of debate, President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 into law. The so-called Farm Bill addresses a vast array of issues, including farm risk management, land conservation, nutrition assistance, international food aid, and rural development. It’s a $489 billion, multi-year roadmap. And it’s complicated.
No less complicated is the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, among many other reports. Policy-making is complex.
Researchers at OSU’s Center for Agricultural and Environmental Policy help decision makers and others make sense of complex policies such as the Farm Bill, and assess the impacts such policies have on agricultural economies, rural communities, and the environment.
“The center is the ‘go to’ place in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest for objective economic analysis of policies related to agriculture, natural resources, and food systems,” said JunJie Wu, the center director.
Decision makers must make choices that balance environmental sustainability with economic viability, now and into the future, Wu said. The Center for Agricultural and Environmental Policy provides tools to help decision makers consider complex human-natural systems as they design policies related to land, water, air, and ecosystems.
Working with colleagues across OSU and at the University of California, the center addresses complex questions from multiple perspectives. For example, how do extreme climate events affect crops and irrigation management? Or, how do changes in conservation and safety-net programs affect farm income, local economies, and water quality?
”There are significant challenges facing agriculture, the environment, and rural communities that are intertwined and interdependent,” said Susan Capalbo, head of OSU’s department of applied economics and one of the center’s principal scientists. “Our research helps assess policies and how they impact a wide range of interrelated issues, from rural poverty to global competition, climate change, and food safety.”