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Impact Analyses and Decision Strategies for Agricultural Research


To estimate the expected and actual flow of benefits and costs of research for agriculture, and related areas, including the incidence of their distribution. <P>Nebraska sub-objective 1a. Evaluate market impacts and the potential economic benefits and costs of new technologies that will include (1) continued change in grain ethanol technology with byproducts primarily destined for cattle feedlots, (2) biomass ethanol production from switchgrass and corn stover, (3) biodiesel production from soybeans, and (4) beef slaughtering technology to reduce food-borne pathogens. <P>Nebraska sub-objective 1b. Evaluate alternative methods for estimating aggregate agricultural productivity gains and identify factors affecting their reliability, and estimate returns to research investments where possible.

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Non-Technical Summary: New technologies impact private and community decision-makers, and represent one of the primary products of university research. This project examines impacts on markets and private decision makers, and flows of benefits and costs, of such new technologies as ethanol from biomass, biodiesel, and food safety techniques in slaughtering technology. <P> Approach: Procedures for sub-objective 1a. The procedures used in the research program of technology evaluation will vary depending on the new technologies being considered, but will follow some general patterns as follows. (I). Costs considered here will generally consist of engineering cost estimates (budgets estimated from discussions with engineers or manufacturers and/or from costs of similar technologies) for the adoption and use of the technology. Estimation and distribution of these cost estimates will be an important product of this research program, as they will be useful to both private decision makers and public policy makers. (II). Benefits of a successful new technology accrue in the first instance to decision-makers who are early adopters, but as increased adoption begins to affect prices, these benefits are passed in part or in whole to others. This research program will utilize comparative statics to examine impacts on prices and welfare. The impact of public policies impacting the use of new technologies will be similarly evaluated. In the case of food safety technology, market prices and quantities cannot be directly used to estimate the benefits of reduced food pathogen levels. These benefits come in the form of reductions in medical costs, in deaths, in lost work time, and in reduced time and suffering. Procedures for sub-objective 1b. The project will examine the implications of spatial econometric models for estimating neighborhood spillover benefits of state agricultural research expenditures, both private public. The consistency of alternative methods of measuring of agricultural productivity will be evaluated by comparing their results for annual increments in country-level agricultural productivity in Africa. Methods to be compared include shifts measured by frontier production functions, both contemporaneous and cumulative DEA (data envelopment analysis.)

Perrin, Richard
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
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