15 February 2017. Series of policy papers commissioned by the Farm Journal Foundation. While commissioned by the Farm Journal Foundation, these policy documents reflect the views of the authors, and are intended to stimulate interest and debate on these issues as Congress begins to consider the next Farm Bill and other relevant legislation.

Taken together, they kick off a much needed dialogue on how US agriculture can maintain its comparative strength, share its extraordinary knowledge, tools, and know-how, and drive economic growth and stability, while ensuring US competitiveness in tomorrow’s agricultural export markets.

First paper: Enhancing U.S. Efforts to Develop Sustainable Agri-Food Systems in Africa

Dr. Thomas Jayne, Hon. Chance Kabaghe, and Dr. Isaac Minde. Farm Journal Foundation, 16 pages

This policy brief describes the changed landscape and the opportunities being created for developing innovative and effective new partnerships between US and African institutions engaged in African agri-food systems. It outlines a strategic framework to maintain US engagement in this effort, which centers on sustained commitment to capacity strengthening and leadership of African agricultural institutions.

Why should US citizens care? Investing in Africa’s economic growth is in the United States’ national interest. US exports of agricultural products to sub-Saharan Africa totaled $2.6 billion in 2013 and will grow rapidly if Africa continues to develop. (…) US

farmers and agribusiness can help themselves by helping Africa to meet its rapidly growing food needs, by investing in the region’s agri-food systems, and by supporting a sustainable and efficient global food system. (page 4)

The time has arrived for the US to find effective ways to support capacity building. This should include African universities, agricultural training colleges, vocational schools, crop research organisations, extension systems and policy analysis institutes. International private companies, universities and NGOs have important but increasingly redefined roles that put African institutions in the lead.

Mr. Ammad Bahalim and Dr. Joseph Glauber, Farm Journal Foundation, 10 pages
  • This paper describes the obstacles that farmers in developing countries face in accessing international markets for their products, and how greater US investment in providing trade technical assistance to those countries can help instill confidence by potential participants in the international trading system. 
  • It notes that for developing country exporters of agricultural products, it is lack of capacity to deal with sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) standards, not hefty import tariffs, which presents the greatest problem in accessing markets in the United States and other developed countries. 
  • The paper recommends an increased US focus on providing experienced personnel and the appropriate equipment to address SPS issues in developing countries and improved coordination between USG agencies involved in these activities. Improved coordination with other donor countries on SPS matters is also encouraged.
by Philip G. Pardey and Jason M. Beddow
This paper was commissioned by the Farm Journal Foundation. 16 pages

This paper describes the downward trends in US public agricultural research and development (R&D) funding and argues for a doubling of such spending over the next eight to 10 years to ensure that US agriculture maintains its global competiveness. 
To address the decline, the US government can reverse current trends in public agricultural R&D spending by creating incentives for increased research funding from state governments and national commodity groups, much as the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is designed to leverage private sector R&D funding. This paper also suggests ways to better coordinate agricultural research activities both between US government agencies and between US and international research institutions, and proposes more precise targeting of USDA funds to those places where agricultural production actually occurs. 

This post was originally published at PAEPARD and has been republished with permission.

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