Agricultural Policy Review

Fall 2023

  • Jian Chen, Hongli Feng, Elizabeth Hoffman, and Luke Seaberg

    In 2022, Iowa ranked first in the United States for percentage of state electricity produced by wind energy, which contributed 62% of its net electricity generation. In contrast, in 2023, Iowa ranks 34th in solar generation, which represents only 1% of its total electricity generation (Glover 2023). Over the past two decades, solar energy systems have improved in efficiency and declined in cost of installation. At present, solar energy represents the most economical option for electricity generation based on the metrics of the average levelized cost of energy. Given the availability and consistency of high-quality solar natural resources across Iowa, coupled with its cost-effectiveness, solar energy can play a crucial role in attaining Iowa’s established goal of reaching 100% clean power by 2035 and further driving down electricity rates.

  • Phil Gassman, Yongjie Ji, and Tássia Mattos Brighenti

    The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy establishes a goal of reducing nutrient discharge by 45% to Iowa streams and water bodies by 2035, consistent with the nutrient reduction goal reported in the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan. The INRS also embraced an interim Hypoxia Task Force goal to reduce nutrient losses 20% by 2025. However, formidable challenges remain to attaining these goals as evidenced by pervasive elevated in-stream nitrogen and phosphorus levels in Iowa streams. Mitigation of the seasonal hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico, which is driven by nutrient export from the Mississippi River, has also proved elusive.

  • Lee Schulz and Chad Hart

    USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report outlines the current view for agricultural markets over the next 12–18 months. In general, extreme weather events and domestic and international economic concerns have shaped the agricultural projections for the near future. While US meat demand remains resilient, cattle numbers have continued to decline due to drought and high production costs. Meanwhile, USDA projects the pork and poultry industries will grow. Livestock prices have a mixed outlook for 2024, with beef and pork prices expected to increase, while prices for broilers and turkeys fall.

  • Ariel Singerman and Sergio H. Lence

    Collective action is advocated as a solution to common challenges encountered by agricultural producers, including accessing new markets, sharing capital investment expenses, and negotiating with companies both upstream and downstream in the supply chain. Collective action is also proposed as a solution to problems related to externalities and public goods within the agricultural community and between farmers and other economic actors. Recently, there is growing interest in utilizing collective agri-environmental strategies to efficiently deliver public goods, such as biodiversity, water availability and quality, resilience against fires and flooding, storage of carbon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhanced agricultural landscapes. 

  • Katherine Harris-Lagoudakis and Beomyun Kim

    This article discusses changes in federal food policy following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the policy options that were created in response to high rates of unemployment and school closures have now sunset. This article discusses the implementation and phase-out of food policy options that were designed to assist households during the pandemic.