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I post Ag Data News articles every Wednesday.  At least, Wednesday is my goal. Sometimes, other work gets in the way and I'm a day or two late. Here's a convenient list of past articles based on whether they include R code, use data from our apps, address the effects of events or policies, or were written in my ARE 231 class.

The Gas Tax Holiday is a Bad Idea

This week, the Biden Administration proposed to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes to relieve pressure on consumers facing high fuel prices. They proposed to eliminate the 18c per gallon gasoline tax and the 24c per gallon diesel tax for 90 days. 

From an economic perspective, this is a bad idea.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how elasticities matter for understanding the benefits of international trade. This week, elasticities will tell us why this tax holiday is a bad idea.

New Zealand Agriculture Proposes To Tax Itself, But How Much?

At the core of its climate policy, New Zealand has an emissions trading scheme (ETS) in which regulated firms must acquire an emissions credit for every tonne of greenhouse gas they emit. Agriculture is currently not required to participate in the ETS, but is slated to join in 2025.

Do We Have an Elastic Product?

Twenty years ago this week, the tv show "The Wire" premiered on HBO. It is, in my opinion, one of the best shows ever made. 

One reason I liked it --- not one of the main reasons, but a reason nonetheless --- was that drug kingpin Stringer Bell went to night school to take economics classes. Several times in the series, the viewers and other characters benefit from his acquired wisdom.

Where is the Wheat?

The world is preparing for the 2022 wheat harvest. Major producers including the USA, Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union will harvest most of their crop in the next three months. Canada will harvest at the end of summer, and Argentina and Australia will harvest six months from now. India and Pakistan just completed their harvest.

Does Insulating Houses Reduce Energy Consumption?

Following the 1973 energy crisis, US policymakers sought to reduce fossil fuel consumption by mandating improvements in energy efficiency. In 1975, the federal government established minimum fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards for new vehicles. In 1978, California adopted the nation’s first state-level energy building codes, establishing minimum energy efficiency requirements for new buildings.

California Wine: Down, Up, and Sideways

California wine grape production recovered somewhat in 2021 after a miserable 2020, but was still lower than any other year since 2008. The most produced varieties in 2021 were Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, each with about 600,000 tons of grapes, or about 400 million bottles of wine. The next three were Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and French Colombard.

Is this Another Handout to Farmers?

Today, the Biden Administration called for Congress to allocate $33 billion for "critical security and economic assistance to Ukraine." The request includes $20.4 b for security and military assistance, $8.5b for economic assistance, and $3b for humanitarian assistance. 

I don't have the expertise to assess whether the amounts in each category are appropriate, but those all seem like good things,

Ukraine, Russia, and Sunflowers

The sunflower originated in North America and was domesticated by Native Americans. Spanish explorers carried the plant back to Europe around 1500, where it became a popular ornamental flower. It was first commercialized for oil production in Russia and Ukraine in the 19th century.

Ag Data: Where Do I Find It?

The main impetus for my project to make agricultural data more easily available was that I, as someone who spends much of my time working with agricultural data, often found it difficult to find simple pieces of data. I can imagine how tough it is for people new to the field. 

Environmental Outcomes of the US Renewable Fuel Standard: A Reply

Since 2013, 10% of essentially every gallon of US gasoline has been ethanol made from corn. In February, my co-authors and I published a peer-reviewed paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences arguing that additional corn ethanol does not reduce carbon emissions relative to gasoline once you account for changes in land use. 

Russia, Ukraine, and Food Supply: Look at the Prices

Three weeks ago, I wrote that the world is not facing a food crisis in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

I argued that the invasion's effects on food commodity markets were big but not historic. The US should not respond by incentivizing additional production, in part because the proposed measures would do little to alleviate the pressure in winter wheat markets. 

Changing Ethanol Policy Isn't Going to Help

How do you know if your industry is a political football? 

Answer: people think the solution to the latest crisis is to change the policies regulating your industry. 

To counteract high gasoline prices, ethanol advocates have proposed relaxing restrictions limiting the percent of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline. Their theory is that ethanol is cheaper than petroleum, so using more of it will lower gasoline prices. 

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