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Public Agricultural Research Spending and Future U.S. Agricultural Productivity Growth: Scenarios for 2010-2050

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Author Info

  • Heisey, Paul W.
  • Wang, Sun Ling
  • Fuglie, Keith O.

Abstract

• By 2050, global agricultural demand is projected to grow by 70-100 percent due to population growth, energy demands, and higher incomes in developing countries. Meeting this demand from existing agricultural resources will require raising global agricultural total factor productivity (TFP)1 by a similar level. Maintaining the U.S. contribution to global food supply would also require a similar rise in U.S. agricultural TFP. • TFP growth in U.S. agriculture is predicated on long-term investments in public agricultural research and development (R&D). Productivity growth also springs from agricultural extension, farmer education, rural infrastructure, private agricultural R&D, and technology transfers, but the force of these factors is compounded by public agricultural research. • The rate of TFP growth (and therefore output growth) of U.S. agriculture has averaged about 1.5 percent annually over the past 50 years. Stagnant (inflation-adjusted) funding for public agricultural research since the 1980s may be causing agricultural TFP growth to slow down, although statistical analyses of productivity growth trends are inconclusive. • ERS simulations indicate that if U.S. public agricultural R&D spending remains constant (in nominal terms) until 2050, the annual rate of agricultural TFP growth will fall to under 0.75 percent and U.S. agricultural output will increase by only 40 percent by 2050. Under this scenario, raising output beyond this level would require bringing more land, labor, capital, materials, and other resources into production. • Additional public agricultural R&D spending would raise U.S. agricultural productivity and output growth. Raising R&D spending by 3.73 percent annually (offsetting the historical rate of inflation in research costs) would increase U.S. agricultural output by 73 percent by 2050. Raising R&D spending by 4.73 percent per year (1-percent annual growth in inflation-adjusted spending) would increase output by 83 percent by 2050.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service in its series Economic Brief with number 138919.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ags:uerseb:138919

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Keywords: Productivity Analysis; Public Economics;

References

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  1. Fuglie, Keith O. & Walker, Thomas S., 2001. "Economic Incentives And Resource Allocation In U.S. Public And Private Plant Breeding," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 33(03), December.
  2. V. Eldon Ball & Jean‐Pierre Butault & Carlos San Juan & Ricardo Mora, 2010. "Productivity and international competitiveness of agriculture in the European Union and the United States," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 41(6), pages 611-627, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Jin, Yu & Huffman, Wallace E., 2013. "Reduced U.S. Funding of Public Agricultural Research and Extension Risks Lowering Future Agricultural Productivity Growth Prospects," Staff General Research Papers 36796, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  2. King, John L. & Toole, Andrew A. & Fuglie, Keith O., 2012. "The Complementary Roles of the Public and Private Sectors in U.S. Agricultural Research and Development," Economic Brief 138925, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

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