The following themes are planned for the 3rd Quarter 2005 issue of Choices
. Please see our thematic coverage page
for a complete list and schedule of past and planned future themes.
Consumers and Markets
Supply Chains in the Agricultural Sector
The agricultural production, processing, and distribution industries are increasingly being characterized by more tightly aligned supply or value chains rather than more traditional coordination or governance structures of open access market systems. Benefits are generated through better flow scheduling and resource utilization, increased ability to manage and control quality throughout the chain, reduction of risk associated with food safety and contamination, and increased ability to respond quickly to changes in consumer demand for food attributes. This theme will explore the various business and policy implications of the development of value/supply chains in the agricultural sector.
Consumers and Markets
Valuing the Quality of the Environment and Human Health: Nonmarket Valuation for Informing Public Policy Debates
The quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the environment around us affects our mental and physical well-being in many direct and indirect ways. However, the cleanliness of natural environments and their effects on human health are not directly priced in markets. An accurate economic analysis obviously requires all the benefits and costs of an action to be included. Economists have developed ways to estimate the monetary values that people place on cleaner water, safer food, better health, and publicly provided outdoor recreation activities. Incorporating such values into policy analysis can provide balance and reveal the way the environment and environmentally related actions contribute to economic well-being. The collection of papers in the forthcoming issue will provide a nontechnical introduction to the economic principles and methods that underlie commonly used nonmarket valuation techniques along with examples of usage of the results.
Resources and the Environment
Developing New Energy Sources from Agriculture
As recently as the early 1900s, energy sources around the world were mostly agriculturally derived, and industrial products were primarily made from plant matter. Early motor fuels also came from agriculture—Henry Ford used ethanol in his original engine, and Rudolf Diesel's engine could run on peanut oil. By 1920, petroleum emerged as the dominant energy source for transportation fuels and industrial products. For more than 80 years, the United States and other industrialized countries have relied on petroleum as an economical and dependable source of energy. However, this reliance on petroleum is becoming a major issue as our domestic oil supplies shrink and our dependence on oil imports grows. The papers in this theme will look at agriculture's current role as an energy producer and explore opportunities for agriculture as our nation struggles to secure its energy future.
We are working on future theme coverage on supply chains, nonmarket valuation, biofuels, GMOs, checkoff programs, the Farm Bill, and tilling Latin American soils. See our thematic coverage page for a complete list and planned schedule.