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The Role of Community Food Services in Reducing U.S. Food Insufficiency in the COVID-19 Pandemic

We use state-level Census Household Pulse Survey data to examine the role of community food
services such as food banks and pantries in reducing food insufficiency during the COVID-19
pandemic in the United States. Food insufficiency increased for all income classes during the
pandemic, and especially for the lower and middle classes. We adopt a fixed effects filtered
estimator to estimate the coefficients on time-invariant regressors in a fixed effects panel model.
Estimation results suggest community food services contribute to mitigating food insufficiency,
especially for the middle class and in the early months of the pandemic.

Authors: Zheng Tian, Claudia Schmidt, Stephan J Goetz

Publication: Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics Date Published: October 1, 2021


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Female farmers in the United States: Research needs and policy questions

The literature on women in agricultural production in developing countries is vast. While female farmers in the United States have recently received more attention, their general characteristics and practices pursued have not received as much consideration by agricultural economists. Here we examine U.S. female farmers’ characteristics and factors associated with county level female farm shares using Census data. We find that these shares are higher near metropolitan core counties and that their presence is associated with agritourism activity as well as horticultural and small livestock production. We conclude with several policy questions and future research needed to assess the roles and impacts of female farm operators in the U.S.

Authors: Claudia Schmidt, Stephan J. Goetz, Zheng Tian

Publication: Science Direct Date Published: May 1, 2021

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Rural Development Implications One Year After COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching impacts on most sectors of the U.S. economy, and these impacts have been uneven across rural and urban areas. On the one hand, rural areas were already lagging behind urban areas in many sectors before the pandemic (Ajilore and Willingham, 2019; U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2018), including in terms of educational attainment, access to health care and broadband, and general economic progress (e.g., Dobis et al. 2020; Goetz, Partridge, and Stephens, 2018). On the other hand, lower rural population density and greater reliance on personal as opposed to public transportation likely reduced the rural populations’ exposure to the virus (Goetz et al., 2020). This special theme issue of Choices was commissioned by the Council on Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics (C-FARE) to examine how COVID-19 affected rural areas and prepared in collaboration with the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development on behalf of the Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs).

Authors: Stephan J. Goetz, Jane Kolodinsky

Publication: Choices Magazine Date Published: April 1, 2021


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If You Build Them… Will it Matter? Food Stores’ Presence and Perceived Barriers to Purchasing Healthy Foods in the Northeastern U.S.

Policies incentivizing store entry or store improvements are aimed at increasing access to healthy foods; however, findings about their effectiveness to improve diets are mixed. Similarly, little is known about whether food stores’ presence affects consumers’ perceived barriers to purchasing healthy foods, which reflect the subjective hardships experienced by shoppers to purchase and consume healthier foods. In this study, we assess the relationship between the two most widely studied perceived barriers to purchasing healthy foods (price and availability) and the local retail food environment using individual-level survey data collected across the northeastern US and census data on the numbers of grocery stores and warehouse clubs and supercenters. Our results indicate that unobserved heterogeneity plays an important role in determining the sign and magnitude of the relationship between store presence and perceptions. The likelihood that an individual cites price or availability as a perceived barrier depends upon the barrier considered, whether respondents live in the zip code where they shop, and the method of controlling for unobserved heterogeneity. Thus, policies focusing on improving access to a given store type may only mitigate some of the negative perceptions associated with one’s food environment.

Authors: Lauren Chenarides, Alessandro Bonanno, Anne Palmer

Publication: Applied Economics Perspective and Policy Date Published: October 12, 2020

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Google Searches Reveal Changing Consumer Food Sourcing in the COVID-19 Pandemic

In this commentary published in 2021, we examine how consumer interest changed since the advent of the pandemic, by observing Google search trends.

Authors: Claudia Schmidt, Stephan J. Goetz, Sarah Rocker, Zheng Tian

Publication: Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development Date Published: May 21, 2020


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Americans’ Food Spending Patterns Explain Devastating Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns on Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service’s Food Expenditures by Outlet data provide insight as to why the lockdowns related to COVID-19 have been so devastating for U.S. farmers.

Authors: Stephan J. Goetz, Claudia Schmidt, Lisa Chase, Jane Kolodinsky

Publication: Journal of Food Systems, Agriculture, and Community Development Date Published: May 21, 2020

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Small and Minority Farmers’ Knowledge and Resource Sharing Networks, and Farm Sales: Findings from Communities in Tennessee, Maryland, and Delaware

A network analysis can quantify the depth and breadth of a farmer’s relationships with other local farmers, buyers and sellers, or other groups and organizations. Such an analysis can potentially also reveal farmers’ incentives, situations, and behaviors, and it may explain their economic success more generally. This study examines small and minority farmers’ networks using a primary survey in three farming communities. We emphasize networks related to production, marketing, and resource-sharing activities of 127 farmers (nodes) in Tennessee, 46 in Maryland, and 23 in Delaware, and compute three different measures of network importance or “centrality” for each farmer. We then use generalized least squares analysis relating farmer’s age, gender, race, educational attainment, labor use on the farm, and farm location to the farmer’s centrality position or importance in the network, defined by number and strength of links or connections. In additional regression analyses, we find significantly positive effects of the centrality position on farm sales of specialty crops: our model predicts that a farmer who adds one additional link or connection can expect a 19% to 25% increase in sales, all else equal. Our results can potentially be used not only to disseminate information more efficiently, but also to identify farm­ers who would benefit the most from more targeted extension services.

Authors: Aditya R. Khanal, Fisseha Tegegne, Stephan J. Goetz, Lan Li, Yicheol Han, Stephan Tubene, Andy Wetherill

Publication: Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development Date Published: April 17, 2020

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Religiosity and Regional Resilience to Recession

Literature shows that religiosity can provide individual resilience to life shocks as well as regional resilience to disasters caused by natural hazards. Related work has examined the complicated links between religion and economic growth. Yet few, if any, studies examine the role of regional levels of religiosity on a region’s resilience to recession—or how quickly the employment rate returns to pre-recession levels (a common measure of resilience in the economics literature). As the recovery period of the Great Recession cools and economists warn of future economic downturns, all known variables that may be linked with regional resilience are worthy of exploration. Using survey results from the Gosling-Potter Internet Project and General Social Surveys, we applied logarithmic functions to pre- and post-Great Recession employment data for 2,836 U.S. counties. We found a modest and statistically significant association between religious belief and regional resilience to recession. Religiosity was the strongest of sixteen psychosocial variables that we examined in association with the speed of job recovery; despite having negative links with other economic variables. This has particular salience for more rural economies; policy implications are discussed.

Authors: Raphael E. Cuomo, Daniel B. Davis, Stephan J. Goetz, Josh D. Shapiro, Mary L. Walshok

Publication: Risk, Hazards, and Crisis in Public Policy Date Published: March 23, 2020

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Explaining the spatial variation in American life expectancy

Since 1980, average life expectancy in the United States has increased by roughly five years; however, in recent years it has been declining. At the same time, spatial variation in life expectancy has been growing. To explore reasons for this trend, some researchers have focused on morbidity factors, while others have focused on how mortality trends differ by personal characteristics. However, the effect community characteristics may play in expanding the spatial heterogeneity has not yet been fully explored. Using a spatial Durbin error model, we explore how community and demographic factors influence county-level life expectancy in 2014, controlling for life expectancy in 1980 and migration over time, and analyzing men and women separately. We find that community characteristics are important in determining life expectancy and that there may be a role for policy makers in addressing factors that are associated with lower life expectancy in some regions.

Authors: Elizabeth A. Dobis, Heather M. Stephens, Mark Skidmore, Stephan J. Goetz

Publication: Social Science & Medicine Date Published: February 1, 2020

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The Role of Craft Breweries in Expanding (Local) Hop Production

Hop production has expanded dramatically in recent years along with the number of local craft breweries, but to date the relationship between these two phenomena has not been explored systematically. Using a state-level pooled count data model with observations from 2007, 2012, and 2017, we examine the independent lagged effects of breweries on the number of hop farms and acres grown, holding constant fixed effects and key economic and geographic factors. Our results confirm that the number of breweries is associated with more hop production (farms and acres) five years later, while warmer temperatures and higher land prices discourage it. (JEL Classifications: L66, Q11, R30)

Authors: Elizabeth A Dobis, Neil Reid, Claudia Schmidt, Stephan J Goetz

Publication: Journal of Wine Economics Date Published: October 22, 2019

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