USDA Reports

The GW Regulatory Studies Center has worked with the United States Department of Agriculture in a series of cooperative agreements since 2015 to better understand agricultural regulations.

The Relationship Between Regulatory Form & Productivity: An Empirical Application to Agriculture
(2017-2018 Report)

Under a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center produced this four-chapter report detailing the findings of its research on the relationship between regulation and agricultural productivity.

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Full Report

Co-authors Julie Balla, Daniel R. Pérez, Aryamala Prasad, and Zhoudan Xie detail their findings on the relationship between regulation and agricultural productivity in this four-chapter report.


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By: Linda Abbott -- Director of the Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture

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Executive Summary

This report attempts to shed light on the relationship between regulation and agricultural productivity through both theoretical discussion and empirical analysis. In particular, the report highlights the importance of considering different forms of regulation—defined by the particular policy mechanisms adopted—in examining the impact of regulation. The report consists of four chapters.


Chapter One

Regulation & Economic Growth: Theoretical Foundations & Empirical Findings in Agriculture

This chapter begins by summarizing scholarship on the economic effects of regulation and then focuses on the literature linking regulation and productivity. Section III reviews available proxies for measuring regulation, their strengths and weaknesses, and section IV reviews studies that have focused on measuring the effect of regulation on agricultural productivity. Section IV explores why the policy instruments used to effectuate a regulation (i.e., the regulation’s form) may be a key determinant of its economic effects, and Section V concludes.

Chapter Two

A Taxonomy of Regulatory Forms

We propose a more robust method for measuring regulation—namely by supplementing existing measures with the policy instruments or “forms” that a regulation employs to achieve its intended policy outcomes. This taxonomy is the first comprehensive typology of regulation by form that can be applied to regulations across policy areas. We expect the taxonomy to be useful for practitioners as well as researchers to better understand the relationship between regulatory activity and public outcomes.

Chapter Three

Unpacking the Forms of Regulation Affecting Agricultural Industries

Application of the Taxonomy involves analyzing regulations to identify the specific mechanisms they employ to achieve intended outcomes. For example, introducing tolerance levels for pesticide residues is a form of performance standard intended to reduce human exposure to pesticides. We identified a set of regulations that were most relevant to agriculture, and used qualitative coding techniques to generate a dataset that classifies regulations according to form.

Chapter Four

Does the Form of Regulation Matter?: An Empirical Analysis of Regulation & Land Productivity Growth

In this chapter, we conduct empirical analysis to assess whether different forms of regulation have different effects on productivity growth. Using data from 25 agricultural industries for the period of 1971-2017, we examine the relationship between growth in regulation and growth in land productivity. In particular, we attempt to answer two questions: (1) What is the relationship between growth in agriculture-related regulation and growth in agricultural productivity? (2) Does the relationship vary depending on the form of regulation?


Annex one

Alternatives to Regression: Partial Dependence Plots

Annex One:
It is natural to wonder how robust our conclusions are to possible errors in model specification and, more generally, to model uncertainty. To find out, we applied a useful innovation from machine learning: an ensemble of several hundred non-parametric (classification and regression tree) models fit to the data, with the frequency distribution of predictions of yield growth over the entire population of models providing a quantitative indicator of the extent of model uncertainty.

Annex Two

Code of Federal Regulations Parts in the Sample

Annex Two:
This annex lists the CFR parts we examined (as described in Chapters 3 and 4). We selected the sample first based on the industry relevance estimates in RegData and then refined it according to expert judgement from USDA.


Agricultural Statistics: Transatlantic Agriculture & Regulation
(2015 - 2016 Report)

As part of a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center produced a five-chapter report on regulatory differences between the United States and the European Union and their effects on agricultural productivity. 


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Full Report

Each of the individual reports that comprise the first cooperative agreement between the USDA and GW Regulatory Studies Center.

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Agricultural Statistics

By: Susan E. Dudley, Lydia Holmes, Peter Linquiti, Brian Mannix, Daniel R. Pérez, Aryamala Prasad & Zhoudan Xie

This chapter provides an overview of key statistical comparisons between the agricultural sectors of the U.S. and the EU. Its purpose is to highlight key economic indicators, describe the role that agriculture plays in each economy, and highlight differences in each jurisdiction’s respective factor endowments and trade patterns. In addition, this chapter updates key statistics contained within the USDA Economic Research Service’s (ERS) 2004 report: U.S. – EU Food and Agricultural Comparison.

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Agricultural Productivity and the Impact of Regulation

By: Aryamala Prasad & Zhoudan Xie

This chapter provides focuses on the impact of agricultural policy, specifically regulation, in influencing agricultural productivity across jurisdictions. It begins by tracing agricultural growth in the EU and U.S. to illustrate their respective trends for agricultural productivity. Then, drawing from the literature, it identifies measures and methodologies used to estimate the impact of regulation on productivity. Finally, it outlines important differences regarding how regulations can affect agricultural productivity and other measures of agricultural performance such as output and production costs in the EU and the U.S.

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Transatlantic Approaches to Agriculture Policy

By: Susan E. Dudley, Lydia Holmes, Daniel R. Pérez, Aryamala Prasad & Zhoudan Xie

This chapter reviews the institutions and procedures governing regulatory development in the U.S. and EU, details several notable differences in their respective regulatory approaches towards agriculture, and then presents and compares relevant regulations affecting agricultural production in each jurisdiction. It first provides an overview of the U.S. and EU procedures for developing and implementing regulation and how they differ. It then describes how the jurisdictions approach regulation of the agricultural sector. Finally, it discusses five areas of agricultural policy: (i) agri-environmental regulations, (ii) organic farming, (iii) genetically modified organisms (GMO), (iv) pesticides, and (v) fertilizers. The regulations discussed are initiated at the EU level and the U.S. federal level. The roles of member states (in the EU) and states (in the U.S) are outlined wherever applicable, but a complete accounting of the effects of implementation and enforcement present at this level falls outside the scope of this paper.

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Water Pollution from Agriculture

By: Peter Linquiti & Zhoudan Xie

This chapter reviews how the U.S. and EU regulate water pollution from agriculture, particularly nutrient contamination from fertilizer use on crops and from the management of manure from livestock. The chapter first reviews the core environmental problem—the process by which nutrient pollution occurs and the adverse environmental and human health consequences it causes. It also provides a broad overview of the institutions and policy frameworks that shape water quality polices relevant to agriculture in the two jurisdictions and proceeds by characterizing the specific policy instruments used in the U.S. and the EU to implement these broader policy frameworks. The chapter concludes by describing the on-the-ground implementation experience and the degree to which retrospective program evaluations are performed.

Image of a harvester collecting grain.

Regulatory Impact on Corn Farming

By: Daniel R. Pérez, Aryamala Prasad, & Zhoudan Xie

This chapter examines the impact of environmental and food safety regulations on corn production in the U.S. and EU. We provide quantitative estimates for differences in farm-level outcomes that result from different regulatory requirements between jurisdictions. The chapter begins by identifying and discussing regulations affecting corn production and proceeds to estimate the economic impact of each regulation at the farm level. We selected France and Spain as case studies to illustrate the differences that result from EU member states’ translation and implementation of agricultural regulations at the country level. Our use of a typical farm approach is meant to demonstrate relative differences in outcomes for farms among different jurisdictions rather than provide an exhaustive list of the costs facing a representative corn farm within any particular geographic region.