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Schools form ag alliance

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Economists at Oregon, California universities partner for farm policy


By MITCH LIES


Capital Press


Elected officials in coming months may have a new resource to help them develop farm policy.


The Partnership for Agricultural and Resource Policy Research has recently formed to show how farm bill policies affect agricultural economies, rural communities, the environment and consumer access to healthful, affordable food and nutrition.


The partnership, established through a $910,000 USDA grant, is a collaboration of economists at Oregon State University and University of California-Davis.


"The Partnership for Agricultural and Resource Policy Research will be the 'go to' place in the Western United States for high-quality objective economic analysis of critical policy issues related to agricultural, resource and food systems," JunJie Wu, an OSU economist and director of the partnership, said in a prepared statement.


The partnership is starting at a time when Congress has begun reworking the 2008 Farm Bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee last week passed a draft of the 2012 Farm Bill to the Senate floor.


Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said he expects the full Senate to take up the issue in the next few weeks.


"There are significant challenges facing agriculture, the environment and rural communities that society must address," said Susan Capalbo, head of OSU's department of agricultural and resource economics and one of the principal scientists in the new program.


Capalbo said she expects the partnership to provide Congress input as it develops the 2012 Farm Bill.


"A number of titles of the 2008 Farm Bill expire at the end of 2012," she said. "The question is what are those going to be replaced with.


"Our research will assess how revisions to the farm bill and other policies will affect a wide range of these issues, from rural poverty to global competition, climate change and food safety," she said.


Capalbo said the western partnership, one of four established nationally, will utilize existing research already done at the institutes in its initial phase.


OSU and UC-Davis are national leaders in policy research relating to agricultural and resource economics, according to JunJie. Two key investigators on the partnership, John Antle of OSU and Daniel Sumner of UC-Davis, have served as staff economists on the President's Council of Economic Advisers and testified before Congress.



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