The Agriculture Update will focus narrowly on: 1) current technology issues in agriculture including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), herbicides, pesticides, agriculture water pollution, aquifer depletion, antibiotics in livestock, and accurate food labeling; and 2) current agriculture finance issues including consolidation in agriculture industries, crop subsidies and the federal agricultural regulatory process.

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.

Agriculture Update: Suggested Readings

The Committee has identified three specific background documents that provide a broad and relatively neutral overview of the complex set of issues addressed by U.S. agricultural policy and three websites that provide similar types of information, but from the website sponsor’s point of view.