Letter from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association

Given current discussions in Washington about the federal budget for agricultural research and with discussions about reorganization of the USDA in the air, the leadership of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) was compelled to compose a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture and other Congressional leaders.  

Here's an excerpt.

The AAEA highly values the support for economic research, education, extension, and analysis that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides to the food and agricultural sector. We understand that this is a critical time for the development of this sector, as the sector embarks on important visionary activities and the USDA develops a new action plan for the Research, Education, and Economics (REE) Mission Area. As these activities unfold, we want to emphasize the value of social science research; point out the strength of the current USDA economic research, education, and extension programs; and highlight principles for continued success in economic research to serve the U.S. agricultural, food, and resource sectors and the public good. It is our perspective that economic programs within the USDA should be guided by the following five principles:

• Provide accurate, timely, and precise information on the state of the food and agricultural economy to improve the decision making of farmers, consumers, agribusinesses, and policy makers.
• Uphold and respect statistical directives and privacy laws; maintain the independence of principal statistical agencies from policy-advising units within government.
• Conduct applied and fundamental research to better understand the drivers of the health of the U.S. population, the robust nature of the U.S. food and fiber system, and the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.
• Ensure that policy makers have timely and through analysis to ensure evidence-based policy that results in high quality, up-to-date evaluation of policies and programs.
• Increase the quality and quantity of economic and social science research conducted by the USDA.

The full letter is here.