Sowing Seeds of Change

Informing Public Policy in the Economic Research Service of USDA

John F. Geweke, James T. Bonnen, Andrew A. White, and Jeffrey J. Koshel, Editors

Panel to Study the Research Program of the Economic Research Service

Committee on National Statistics

Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.



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Sowing Seeds of Change Informing Public Policy in the Economic Research Service of USDA John F. Geweke, James T. Bonnen, Andrew A. White, and Jeffrey J. Koshel, Editors Panel to Study the Research Program of the Economic Research Service Committee on National Statistics Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.

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NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support of the work of the Committee on National Statistics is provided by a consortium of federal agencies through a grant from the National Science Foundation (Number SBR-9709489). The project that is the subject of this report is supported by Agreement No. 43-3AEJ-6-8102 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Sowing seeds of change : informing public policy in the Economic Research Service of USDA / John F. Geweke . . . [et al.]. p. cm. "Panel to Study the Research Program of the Economic Research Service, Committee on National Statistics, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council." Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-07152-6 1. United States. Dept. of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. 2. Agriculture—Economic aspects—United States. 3. Agriculture and state—United States. I. Geweke, John. II. National Research Council (U.S.). Panel to Study the Research Program of the Economic Research Service. HD1761 .S82 1999 338.1'0973—dc21 99-6262 Additional copies of this report are available from National Academy Press , 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418. Call (800)-624-6242 or (202)-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) This report is available on line at http://www.nap.edu Printed in the United States of America Copyright 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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Panel to Study the Research Program of the Economic Research Service JOHN F. GEWEKE (Chair), Department of Economics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis DENNIS AIGNER, Graduate School of Management, University of California, Irvine JAMES T. BONNEN, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University IVERY D. CLIFTON, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia GEORGE G. JUDGE, Graduate School, University of California, Berkeley ROBERT C. MARSHALL, Department of Economics, Penn State University CHARLES RIEMENSCHNEIDER, Food and Agricultural Organization, United Nations, New York ROBERT L. THOMPSON, World Bank, Washington, D.C. SARAHELEN THOMPSON, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois, Urbana ANDREW A. WHITE, Study Director JEFFREY J. KOSHEL, Study Director (until December 1997) KAREN HUIE, Research Assistant JOSHUA S. DICK, Senior Project Assistant

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Committee on National Statistics 1998–1999 JOHN E. ROLPH (Chair), Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California JOSEPH G. ALTONJI, Department of Economics, Northwestern University JULIE DAVANZO, RAND, Santa Monica, California WILLIAM F. EDDY, Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University WILLIAM D. KALSBEEK, Survey Research Unit, Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina RODERICK J.A. LITTLE, School of Public Health, University of Michigan THOMAS A. LOUIS, Division of Biostatistics, University of Minnesota CHARLES F. MANSKI, Department of Economics, Northwestern University WILLIAM D. NORDHAUS, Department of Economics, Yale University JANET L. NORWOOD, The Urban Institute, Washington, DC EDWARD B. PERRIN, Department of Health Services, University of Washington PAUL R. ROSENBAUM, Department of Statistics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania FRANCISCO J. SAMANIEGO, Division of Statistics, University of California, Davis RICHARD L. SCHMALENSEE, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIRON STRAF, Director (on leave) ANDREW A. WHITE, Acting Director

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Acknowledgments This report reflects the efforts of many people. The panel was established under the auspices of the Committee on National Statistics, directed by Miron Straf, who was instrumental in developing the study and provided guidance and support to the staff. The panel gratefully acknowledges the funding received from the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The administrator of the ERS, Susan Offutt, and its division directors and other senior staff provided publications, documents, information, and consultation that were essential and helpful in the panel's work. The panel benefited greatly from consultation with current and former agency heads, economists, other social scientists, and historians who gave generously of their time. In particular we would like to thank Harry Ayer, Sandra Batie J. Roy Black, William Browne, David Chu, Willard Cochrane, Lynn Daft, Kenneth Deavers, Clark Edwards, Brian Fisher, Dale Hathaway, James Hosek, John Lee, Jr., John Miranowski, Janet Norwood, Wayne Rasmussen, Sherman Robinson, Vernon Ruttan, John Schnittker, David Schweikhardt, Matthew Shapiro, Ed Simms, David Smallwood, Joshua Sosland, David Sundig, Laurian Unnevehr, Abner Womack, and Gene Wunderlich, as well as others who wished to remain anonymous The panel's task could not be completed without an excellent, well-managed staff. In particular, the report would not have been possible without the efforts of a number of staff members. The panel is indebted to Joshua Dick, senior project assistant, who skillfully guided the report through numerous rounds of editing in preparation for publication and ably and cheerfully handled the administrative

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tasks presented by the panel. Karen Huie, research assistant, provided valuable research assistance. Patricia Eisele and Beryl Watters at Michigan State University patiently keyed and rekeyed numerous versions of the history of ERS. Finally, we are indebted to our study directors. Jeffrey Koshel managed the overall work of the panel and provided counsel during the first half of the panel's work. Upon his departure from the Committee on National Statistics, Andy White ably stepped in to manage activities and help us to meet our deadlines. Together Jeff and Andy worked on all aspects of the project and were always dedicated, responsible, and in good humor. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation to the review of this report: David S.C. Chu, RAND, Washington, D.C.; Kenneth R. Farrell, Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley; Bruce L. Gardner, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland; Eric Hanushek, Wallis Institute of Political Economy, University of Rochester; Janet Norwood, Urban Institute, Washington, D.C.; Vernon W. Ruttan, Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota; Francisco J. Samaniego, Department of Statistics, University of California, Davis; and G. Edward Schuh, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Although the individuals listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. I close by expressing my appreciation to fellow panel members for their willingness to devote long hours to this project. Coming from diverse backgrounds, they worked together well and patiently. A number of panel members prepared drafts for the panel's use. James Bonnen, in particular, devoted many weeks to drawing together hundreds of sources to provide a comprehensive background and history of ERS and its predecessor agency, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. All panel members responded in an extremely helpful way to the requests I made of their time. JOHN GEWEKE, CHAIR PANEL TO STUDY THE RESEARCH PROGRAM OF THE ECONOMIC RESEARCH SERVICE

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Contents     Executive Summary   1 1   Overview   13 2   Informed Public Economic Policy   17 3   The Lessons of History   32 4   Current Issues and Problems   70 5   Evaluation as a Framework for Management   91 6   Administration of Research, Information, and Policy Analysis   116 7   Organization and Placement   139     References   147     Biographical Sketches   153     Index   157

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