To improve public and private decision making by providing the highest quality, objective economic analysis of critical public policy issues concerning agriculture, natural resources, food systems, and the environment.



With the growing deficit and national debt, funding for farm commodity and safety net programs is facing increasing scrutiny for fiscal prudence, environmental performance and congruence with national goals. A comprehensive effort is needed to assess the impacts of these potentially substantial policy changes on agricultural economies, rural communities, the environment, and consumer access to healthy, affordable food and nutrition.

More broadly, society must address significant challenges facing agriculture and rural communities. Rural poverty, job loss, declining health services, and weakening community structures have caused the quality of life to deteriorate in many rural communities. Global competition, changes in market structure, and increasing demands for recreational and environmental services from rural places have also changed the environment within which rural economies operate. Society must also address environmental challenges such as biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution of land, air, and water, which require policies that balance stewardship of natural resources with the economic viability of industries that harness those resources to meet societal needs. Food quality, safety and affordability and the health consequences of diet choices comprise a related set of concerns that are at the core of agricultural policy. This center intends to address these issues using economic analysis and modeling.

This new partnership represents an institutional innovation towards productive regional collaborations between Land Grant institutions. The overarching goals are:

  • To inform the debate and design of policies, including the Farm Bill, that affect agriculture, food, rural communities, and ecosystem services.
  • To be the “go to” place in the Western United States for highest quality, objective economic analysis of agricultural, resource, environment, food systems and technology-related policy issues.
  • To complement agricultural policy analysis that emphasizes traditional agricultural commodities by focusing on specialty crops, food concerns and conservation issues, with an emphasis when appropriate on the Western United States.