drop of water creating ripple effect in larger body of water

NERCRD impacts: Some recent examples

The NERCRD’s work strengthens the capacity of land-grant research institutes, the Cooperative Extension System, and policy makers, thereby effecting change in the communities served by these key stakeholders. This page provides a running list of selected examples of these impacts. (Last updated December 19, 2023.)

Recent Research Impacts

  • NERCRD research has been used at the highest level of Federal Government. The 2019 Economic Report of the President (pdf) cited three scientific papers written by NERCRD and collaborating researchers. One examines the economic conditions of Rural America during the current administration. The other two focus on the determinants of self-employment and its effects on the local economy. Learn more about how the research was used (pdf).
  • NERCRD research has been cited in groundbreaking studies on the economic mobility of Americans. The NERCRD social capital data collection is widely recognized as the standard measure of social capital for use in economic analyses, and it has proven to be a valuable resource for the research community, with more than 660 citations (Google Scholar). For example, it was used in work by the Equality of Opportunity Project, a research team led by economists from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley. That research was featured on the National Bureau of Economic Research website. The report, titled “Where is the land of opportunity? The geography of intergenerational mobility in the U.S,” was written by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline, and Emmanuel Saez.
  • Leading a seven-year USDA AFRI project, NERCRD convened more than 40 researchers to explore the extent to which a more robust regional food system in the Northeastern U.S. could improve food access in low-income communities and improve the long-term food security of the entire Northeast. This resulted in significant ripple effects including a four-year follow up study funded by USDA-NIFA examining supply chain barriers to expanding Northeast ruminant meat production and  follow-up study on regional food systems that resulted in a report released in 2022.
  • NERCRD research that examined the impact of Extension programming on the number of farmers was used by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities to support their funding requests and policy recommendations.
  • NERCRD research has appeared in highly ranked general science or interdisciplinary journals. Under the leadership of Stephan Goetz, NERCRD has published more than 100 peer-reviewed studies, in interdisciplinary journals such as Research Policy, Social Science and Medicine, and PLoSOne and in leading disciplinary journals such as Food Policy, International Journal of Production Economics, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Economics, Economic Development Quarterly, Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Small Business Economics, Journal of Labor Economics and Transportation Research Record. View recent NERCRD research publications here.
  • Research conducted by Delaware State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Tennessee State University, and NERCRD, resulted in a training manual on conducting network analysis, which was used to help form the First State African American Farmers Association.
  • Policy makers and citizens have a greater understanding of how households have been affected by the pandemic in terms of food insufficiency, and of the role of food pantries early in a pandemic. This research resulted in two awards in 2023. (Tian et al., 2022)
  • A model developed by NERCRD can potentially show supply-chain vulnerabilities to future shocks, such as pandemics or climate-change impacts:
  • Statistical models developed by NERCRD researchers and collaborators can help assess how many craft-beverage operations a community can support:
    • Cleary, Rebecca, Stephan J. Goetz, and Claudia Schmidt. 2020. “Population Thresholds Models for Local Alcoholic Beverage Manufacturing.” Presented at the 14th Annual Conference of the American Association of Wine Economists, Verona, Italy, June 27.
  • NERCRD is uniquely positioned to convene experts to expand our understanding of difficult issues. For example, NERCRD helped convene a special issue of Choices Magazine examining COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on rural areas. As a result, researchers and practitioners have a better understanding of the gaps and opportunities exposed by the pandemic:
  • Brewing professionals, destination marketing organizations, and others learned about craft-beverage collaborations to promote tourism (e.g., beer trails), and the challenges and opportunities presented by these ventures. More than 500 readers have downloaded the Center-published guide to setting up craft-beverage trails as an economic development strategy that also benefits local hop farmers:
  • Consumers of news media, including agricultural service providers, are more aware of the importance and unique characteristics of female farmers in the U.S. (Schmidt et al., 2021b):

Recent Outreach and Extension Impacts

  • Through the support of the NERCRD, the National Extension Tourism (NET) group has grown to a 750-member collaborative network, which has leveraged (1) a $650,000 multi-state NIFA-AFRI grant; (2) $85,000 in funding and technical assistance from Extension Foundation that resulted in organizational growth, stability, and expanded reach; (3) a new multi-state Hatch project (NE-2251) focused on post-Covid rural tourism recovery; and (4) a new Outdoor Recreation Working Group that will help support USDA NIFA, Rural Development and the Forest Service in implementing programs to support the nation’s outdoor recreation economy. Learn more about NERCRD and NET’s long-standing partnership here.
  • Through an intensive stakeholder-engagement process, the NERCRD and the other Regional Rural Development Centers identified the investments seen as the most critical for U.S. rural communities to build capacity and improve quality of life. (Entsminger et al., 2023)
  • Through a national collaboration, researchers, practitioners, financiers, and others have expanded their understanding of community-driven, evidence-based policies and investments to strengthen rural prosperity.
  • With NERCRD support, a strategic business-planning curriculum for farmer groups was piloted and awarded additional funding to expand the curriculum development and its reach. (ACRE project/Duncan Hilchey)
  • In its first four years, NERCRD’s small-grants program engaged 53 Extension educators in 12 states, resulting in new collaborative networks, which in turn have leveraged additional funding for community-based projects, including a $1M Rural Opioid Technical Assistance grant in Maryland, a grant to implement a rural tourism curriculum in developing nations, and numerous locally funded projects, e.g., an $18,000 municipal park improvement effort in Michigan. Explore the outcomes of funded projects.