2020 Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference Day 2

Sponsored and Hosted by The Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics Session Descriptions


Tuesday, November 10, 2020: Agricultural and Environmental Policy 12:00- 2:00 P.M. EST


Day two of the 2020 Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference evaluates the state of US policy as it relates to agriculture and the environment one week following the November 3rd US election. Campaigns in 2020 have offered platforms and plans covering taxes, healthcare, biofuels, climate change, immigration, and other important topics, but what do these plans mean for agriculture and the environment? Experts from The Ohio State University and other land-grant universities will cover three important topics for agricultural producers and consumers: institutional carbon markets, access to a stable and healthy labor force, and the future of biofuels.


Brent Sohngen, Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics in AEDE will examine the rush of companies to announce carbon emission reductions and even carbon neutrality goals, including the likes of food sector giants like Cargill, ADM, Nestle, Coca-Cola and McDonalds. Even energy companies long associated with fossil fuels consumption, like American Electric Power and BP, are getting into the act and driving the economy towards carbon neutrality. Given that the agricultural sector has one of the world’s largest carbon footprints, it is useful to ask why are these companies joining the battle against climate change, and how far up the supply chain will their ambitious goals reach?


Margaret Jodlowski, Assistant Professor in AEDE and new to OSU, will discuss the enduring impact of COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures, as well as the continued immigration policy uncertainty, on farms’ access to a stable and healthy labor force. COVID-19 caused significant disruption to the non-farm economy; the loss of off-farm jobs or a reduction in opportunities to earn income off-farm can have significant impacts on finances for both the farm business and the farm household.


Joining the program from the University of California at Davis is Aaron Smith, Deloach Professor of Agricultural Economics, to cover the outlook of the U.S. biofuels sector. Great attention has been placed on biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel during 2020. Renewable Volume Obligations setting refiner blending compliance will closely be watched in the coming weeks as the Short-Term Energy Outlook for gasoline demand remains volatile, along with a reset of Congressionally set targets for biofuel by the Environmental Protection Agency potentially coming in the near future.


The session will conclude with a panel discussion titled “Evaluating the Viability, Sustainability and Effectiveness of the Federal Safety Net”. Panelists include Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Director, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Jonathan McCracken, Senior Advisor to Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry member Sherrod Brown, and Wayne Stoskopf, Director of Public Policy for Risk Management, National Corn Growers Association. Traditional farm, food, and conservation programs outlays under the authorized 2018 Farm Bill have been dwarfed by ad hoc spending the last couple years. The current Farm Bill does not sunset until 2023, but many in Congress are questioning the effectiveness of the current farm safety net.