Essays on Food and Agricultural Policy
Type of DegreeDissertation
Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology
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The study provides insight into the policy provisions that provide a safety net for low income families and agricultural producers in the United States. Private food assistance along with Food Stamp Program and Federal Crop Insurance program are considered. Demographic characteristics and attitudes of food pantry directors and food-needy persons in a two-state region of the South (Alabama and Mississippi) are compared. Noteworthy differences in race, education, and religiosity emerge. Not significant differences in terms of key social attitudes are found. Directors responded with a mix of sympathy and suspicion when asked specifically about food pantry clients. While, a substantial portion of directors attribute poverty to structural causes, some consider the clients seeking food assistance as having unsavory motivations for doing so. Also, the effect of Food Stamp Program participation on food security is estimated. Results are counterintuitive, Food Stamp Program participation and food insecurity being positively correlated. Target-MOTAD was used to determine the optimal crop insurance options for nine representative cotton and peanut farms in southern Alabama. Results showed that, for five of the farms, no crop insurance option was risk reducing given their yield history. For other farms, given the target income assumed, risk reduction involved acquiring a higher level of insurance or decreasing the land used.