Food Systems, Nutrition Security, and Agriculture

From agricultural profitability and market opportunities to nutrition and environmental stewardship, researchers and Extension professionals across the region provide analysis, training, and technical assistance designed to help individuals, businesses, and communities make balanced and informed decisions about the many opportunities associated with regional food systems.

Recent Publications

Household Hardship and Stimulus Payments during the Pandemic: Differences Across Ethnic Minorities in the United States

This study examines the impact of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Economic Impact Payments (EIP) on alleviating household hardship, primarily food insufficiency and expense difficulty, among ethnic groups in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (HPS) from 2020-2022, the study investigates who received the payments and how they used them. The study employs quasi-difference-in-difference models to address the issue of non-repetitive samples in the HPS dataset. The findings suggest that Black, Hispanic, and Other Races individuals reported consistently higher probabilities of food insufficiency and expense difficulty compared to Whites and Asians. The study further reveals that individuals across all ethnic groups reported less food insufficiency or expense difficulty after the distribution of the ARPA EIP in March 2021. In addition, individuals of all ethnic minority groups who used EIP for saving had a larger decrease in the probability of food insufficiency compared with the corresponding change for Whites. The study highlights the importance of targeted stimulus policies to address distinct problems faced by different ethnic minority groups.

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

Publication: Presented at 2023 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Meeting   Date Published: July 23, 2023


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Impact of Broadband Access on Agritourism Operations in the United States

Agritourism is a growing sector that can provide opportunities for rural entrepreneurs and boost rural development in the US. Online presence is crucial for agritourism operators because they cater to consumers. In this study, we employ count data regression models to investigate the relationship between broadband adoption and the number of agritourism operations. Our analysis shows that access to fast broadband internet in 2012 significantly increased the number of agritourism operations in 2017, underscoring the pivotal role of broadband connectivity in facilitating farmer-consumer interactions.

Authors: Claudia Schmidt, Luyi Han, Arian Khaleghi Moghadam, Stephan J. Goetz

Publication: Presented at 2023 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Meeting   Date Published: July 22, 2023

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Racial Inequality in Diet Quality

Although a large and growing literature has investigated the diet and nutrition disparities (see Kozlova, 2016; Allcott et al., 2019 for earlier work), little research has analyzed the impact of COVID-19 on racial/ethnic disparities in diet quality. We complement the existing literature by providing causal estimates of how COVID-19 impacted the racial gaps in diet quality and by examining the causes of racial gaps.

Authors: Yuxuan Pan, Linlin Fan, Stephan J. Goetz, Alexander Stevens

Publication: Presented at 2023 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Meeting   Date Published: July 23, 2023


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International Workshop on Agritourism 2022 Conference Proceedings

The International Workshop on Agritourism (IWA) 2022 Conference Proceedings is intended to increase access to the scholarship that was shared during the three-day conference, which was hosted by University of Vermont Extension in Burlington, Vermont, USA, on August 30 – September 1, 2022. It contains 27 peer-reviewed papers. NERCRD staff provided editorial, project management, and graphic design support to this effort.

Authors: Edited by Lisa Chase, Chadley Hollas, Xinyi Qian, and Claire Whitehouse

Publication: Published jointly by the National Extension Tourism Network and the Global Agritourism Network, with support from the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development   Date Published: July 13, 2023

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Agritourism and Direct Sales Clusters in the United States

Agritourism and direct-to-consumer sales are increasingly used as diversification strategies to generate additional farm revenue streams. Yet despite their growing importance, the impacts, interactions, and adoption of these strategies remain poorly understood. Here we use univariate and bivariate local Moran’s I statistics to identify agritourism and direct-to-consumer sales hotspots in the United States and a Seemingly-Unrelated-Regression Spatial Durbin Model to examine the association between agritourism and direct farm sales to consumers. We find that agritourism and direct sales reinforce each other within the same county but not consistently across neighboring counties.

Authors: Claudia Schmidt, Zheng Tian, Lisa Chase, Chadley Hollas and Stephan J. Goetz

Publication: Agricultural and Resource Economics Review   Date Published: April 17, 2023

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Current NERCRD Projects

Creating an Effective Support System For Small And Medium-Sized Farm Operators To Succeed In Agritourism

Agritourism activity has the potential not only to keep small- and medium-sized farms in business but also to provide important local economic development spillover effects. While agritourism is not profitable or even appropriate in all communities, various stakeholders report that key barriers currently prevent farmers who would like to provide agritourism services from doing so. These barriers represent opportunity costs and include not only lack of information among producers, consumers, supporting organizations and policy makers, but also regulatory gaps across the states. Drawing on extensive stakeholder input, guidance and collaboration, the goal of this four-year project is to develop and disseminate practical information that will allow small- and medium-sized farmers and rural communities to benefit from the growing consumer interest in agritourism activities. Supporting objectives include to understand the roles and educational needs of various organizations in supporting agritourism; improve understanding of factors that contribute to growth in agritourism across U.S. counties; and deliver peer-reviewed educational materials to farmers as well as supporting organizations and policy makers.

Funding Agency: USDA NIFA

Principal Investigator: Claudia Schmidt, Penn State

Accompanying Institution(s): University of Vermont, Oklahoma State University

Start Date: July 2020   End Date: June 2024

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