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Economics & Policy of Production, Technology and Risk in Agricultural & Natural Resources

Professor David Zilberman - Fall 2002

Course Information

Grade Formula: 50% based on policy analysis assignment and 50% on the final examination. The examination will include two technical questions and two essay questions. Assignments: Four optional homework assignments will be distributed. They will be checked and returned and answers will be provided.

Office hours: Thursdays, 3:30 -5:00 p.m., 337 Giannini Hall. For appointments, send an e-mail to or call 642-6570.

To students who consider ARE 241:

I invite you to take the following course, for credit or as an auditor. The course is titled "Agricultural Policy " but in reality it is Economics & Policy of Production Technology and Risk in agricultural & Natural Resources. The material in the course is useful for

(1) ARE students in all fields; and

(2) ESPM students who are interested in policy and economics;

(3) Economics students interested in natural resources and agriculture;

(4) School of Public Policy students interested in natural resources It covers material relevant to all fields in our department-resources & environment, development and agriculture.

In particular it covers:

    * Family production function
    * Alternatives models of production, Resource and environmental risk management.
    * Adoption and diffusion
    * Innovation and intellectual property rights
    * Production and demand Agricultural and environmental policies
    * Water Pest control
    * Biotechnology
    * Optimal control over space and time

We have 3 homework assignments, a policy project and a final.


Some segments of the course require advanced understanding of microeconomics, but most of the course requires solid understanding of microeconomics and some mastery of calculus. Policy Analysis Assignment (will be given last month of class) Each student will be assigned a policy topic by a random lottery. If students donÕt like the first topic they pick, then they can have another chance to make another random selection from the remaining pool.

The assignment is to prepare a comprehensive economic analysis of the policy topic. It should include the following:

¥ Citation of two or three major papers on the issue.

¥ Opinions of two or three experts in the topic area.

¥ Discussion of the pros and cons of the policy in question.

¥ Economic framework for analyzing the issue.

¥ Quantitative measures of the policy impact.

¥ Analysis of the potential gainers and losers from the policy.

¥ Discussion of the political context of the policy.

The analysis should be prepared within one week after the assignment is given and presented in a paper about five pages in length.

Last's year topics included:

   1. The use of BST (Bovine Semi Tropin). Is it economic?
   2. The Sugar Subsidy Program in the United States. Who gains and who loses?
   3. Acid Rain. WhatÕs really happening? Is it a problem and for whom?
   4. Economic Impact of the Food Stamp Program in the United States.
   5. The Economics of Increasing Costs of Federal Grazing Permits.
   6. Trading in Air Pollution Rights. Is it working?
   7. Are There Barriers to U. S. Exports in Asia? What can be done about it?
   8. What Is the Optimal Management of Agricultural Research in California?
   9. Foreign Agricultural Aid. Should it be continued and how?
  10. Conservation Reserve Program. Is it working?
  11. GATT. Does it have negative environmental implications?
  12. Endangered Species Act. Should it be changed or dumped?
  13. Structural Adjustment Lending Policies. Do they do more damage than good?
  14. Cooperative Extension and the Land Grant System. Is it effective? Should it be modified?
  15. Crop Insurance. A real thing or a pork barrel?
  16. Cooperatives in Agriculture. Do they have a future?
  17. The Political Economy of the Farm Bill.
  18. U.S. Agricultural Policy and the World.
  19. Rural Poverty and Agriculture in the U.S.
  20. Agriculture and WTO Ð What will happen?
  21. Agriculture and Information Technology Ð Does it have an impact?
  22. Does the digital divide exist? If so, how can it be removed?

    1. You may consider any of the above topics as well as the following: 1. The Economics of Reform in Eastern Europe and Its Impact on Agriculture. 2. Sustainable Development. What does it mean? Is it an applicable concept? 3. The Political Economy of the Restoration of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. What are the alternative plans and what do they imply? 4. The New Farm Bill. What is it all about and who benefits and who loses?   Tell A Friend