Three series of background papers were completed for the Agriculture Update Study: Agency Papers, Technology Papers and Finance papers.

T0: Introduction to Agriculture Technology

This is the overview for the second series of papers in the Agriculture Update. This portion of the Agriculture Update elaborates on farm management of crops and animals, traditional and genetic engineered plant breeding, and the technologies affecting pesticides, water and soils.

T1: Overview of Farm Management

This is the first in the technology series of papers for the Agriculture Update. This paper provides an overview of farm management from the 20th century to present.

T3: Genetic Engineering and Genetically Modified Organisms in the Food System

This is the third paper in the technology series of background papers for the Agriculture Update. The issues surrounding genetic engineering are complex and overlapping, rendering most attempts to generalize about GE foods misleading. The abundant information and misinformation on the topic adds complexity to issues ranging from government policy to individual health considerations. This paper has provided information to stimulate informed discussion of the federal government’s role in balancing consumer, farmer and industry interests.

T4: Overview of Pesticide Management

This is the fourth paper in the technology series of the Agriculture Update. “Pesticides” is an umbrella term referring to substances that prevent damage from weeds, diseases, or animals. Pesticides are applied to growing crops to maintain crop yields, crop quality, and appearance, as well as post-harvest storage to prevent mold and animal infestation.

T5: Overview of Soil Management

This is the fifth in a series of technology background papers for the Agriculture Update. From an agricultural perspective, healthy soil means a soil that sustains or enhances productivity, ensures profits and is sustained for future generations. A broader perspective may include its ability to maintain or enhance biodiversity, nutrient cycling and biomass production. In today's world, all soil functions—regulating water, filtering pollutants, sustaining plant and animal life, cycling nutrients and supporting structures—are important.

T6: Overview of Water Management

This is the sixth paper in the technology series of background papers for the Agriculture Update. Water is an essential component of all agricultural production. The supply of adequate water for irrigation and the need to improve water quality in our streams, rivers and lakes will continue to be major environmental, political and economic issues.

T7: Overview of Animal Management

This is the seventh in the technology series of papers for the Agriculture Update. In the past two decades, four important trends have emerged in the livestock sector: (1) growth and concentration; (2) shifting geographic location; (3) increasing scale; and (4) the movement of meat processing from urban centers to rural communities.

T8: Overview of Nanotechnology and Other Technologies

This is the eighth and final paper in the technology series of background papers for the Agriculture Update. Adopting new technologies is part of farm operations. Farmers make these decision based on their specific circumstances. New technologies require an investment in both labor and capital. Farmers need to know the value of the investment. Obvious technologies that tend to provide small but sure gains at limited cost are adopted quickly. Less obvious technologies take time to be adopted because of many factors including education, costs, labor requirements, and a slower rate of return. Farmers need to evaluate technology based on what they can gain from it, and look at all ideas—even those that seem to be luxuries.

F1: Overview of Agricultural Subsidy

This is the first in the finance series of background papers for the Agriculture Update. The federal government supports the agricultural sector through a variety of direct and indirect subsidies. The direct subsidies are the ones that get the most attention in the press and in Congress, as they tend to involve some type of direct payment to farmers. The government also indirectly subsidizes agriculture through its funding of activities such as agricultural research and development, extension programs, and maintaining agricultural databases.