Sample Research Paper on US Food and Agriculture

Research Paper on U.S Food and Agriculture


The research paper provides an overview of the U.S food and agriculture sector.  Agriculture remains a key sector in the economy of the United States, and the country is a net of food globally (Earthscan 2011). Towards this end, the paper will present the general composition and structure of the U.S. agriculture sector, along with the key components of this sector. Focus shall also be on the policies that govern the U.S food and agriculture sector such as initial governance and modern policy changes and governance. Finally, the paper will shift focus to the regulatory standards and measurement in the food and the agriculture sector in the United States.

U.S. Food and Agriculture composition/structure and key components

Composition and structure

The United States’ federal government has a unique agricultural structure. In 2010, the government spent more than $20 billion on the agricultural sector to support an output of $280 billion (Edwards, 2009). The country’s agriculture sector maintains barriers to the importing of certain commodities as a means of protecting local agriculture. In addition, trade has also been incorporated in the country’s agricultural sector (Edwards, 2009).

The quantity of agricultural exports from the U.S has grown dramatically over half a century and is continuously growing nine times currently than it used to in the 1950s (USDA, 2012). Since productivity of the US sector has grown better than that in the fiber and domestic demand, the agriculturalists in the county heavily rely on the export markets so as to sustain the revenues and prices. The agricultural export earnings has accrued to 30% of the U.S farm income in the last 30 years (Cook, 2012). The projection is expected to remain at the same level over the coming years. Besides, nonsubsidized commodities account for the bulk of exports from the agricultural sector the United States (USDA, 2012). Historically, very bulky products such as oilseeds, cotton and tobacco have accounted for most of the exports in the sector. The country is the global leader in the agricultural production due to favorable land resources and cost advantage. Additionally, the country has a better labor to capital ratios than the competitor countries in the market. The state has already adopted biotechnology as well farm consolidation to boost their net productivity.

The trade agreements have substantially promoted reforms of the U.S commodity support programs, a significant advance in the sector for agriculture. The U.S has implemented several trade agreements with other different countries and is currently undergoing free trade agreements with more countries. All these agreements are geared towards the improvement of market access for the agricultural products as well as other services and other goods (USDA, 2012). A good example of these type of deals is the NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement), which was implemented in 1994. The agreement has spurred better market integration among commodities and business in Canada.

Trade negotiations in the country have offered better opportunities in removing market distortions as well as increasing access to foreign markets of U.S exports, where agricultural products are also inclusive. The American agricultural sector enjoys agricultural trade liberation. At the global market, land, agriculture and resources are best used when all the farmers in all the competing countries face similar price signals. Trade barriers and export subsidies distort the price signals that farmers receive and limit economic gain (U.S Census Bureau, 2012). Trade liberation in the U.S has or at least reduced these issues.


U.S. Policies that govern food and agriculture

 Initial governance

The genesis of the food policy that govern the food and agriculture sector in the U.S is a long one. It began in the 1880s where the plans were being conducted by the US agricultural department (U.S. FDA, 2009). In 1883, Dr. Willy was appointed to head the department of agriculture where he turned his primary focus on creation of the public awareness to the problems that has adulterated food. He developed standards in which agricultural foods had to be processed under, and campaign for pure Drug and Food Act (U.S. FDA, 2009).The Act was later modified by lawmakers to include the livestock and fisheries imported into or exported  from the United States. A bureau of animals was established to cater for diseased livestock and ensure they cannot be eaten as food. It, therefore, became a policy to test the meat and food being imported and exported before actual consumption took place.

A Federal Agricultural Food Inspection Act was passed into law in 1910 to bar further production and sale of misbranded agricultural food meat or fish (Earthscan, 2011). The body was to focus on the general foods and meat as well as identify and certify the quality and classes and conditions of the agricultural sector products. It was done through labeling wholesome agricultural products depending on quality after inspection.

In 1965, more changes took place where reorganization of the Consumer Department and Marketing Services brought the federal agricultural products under one single program. The egg products inspection department Act was passed as from 1970 (U.S FDA, 2009). It required the state to make a consistent inspection of all the products made from eggs.


Modern policy changes and governance

Following an outbreak of E-coil in 1995, the inspection of the products from agriculture began their attention in more scientific tests in contrary to the sensory inspection. In 1999, the body issued a pathogen reduction system that ensured the illnesses that caused pathogens were reduced in raw agricultural products (U.S. FDA, 2009). From 2005, the ministry of public health took over the ultimate responsibility to set the safety standards as well as enforce the set standards through inspections and regulation.

While the safety of agricultural food may have been motivating the earlier food policies initiatives, modern public policies being developed are better in consumer protection. Modern consumer safety includes dietary guidance manuals and food labeling (United States Department of Agriculture, 2012). However, the role that poverty plays in escalating food insecurity in the agricultural concerns has dominated the current overheating debate in the US legislature over recent few years.

Various entities at local, state and federal levels in the U.S. Are involved in makign important decisions on food and agriculture policies. The major areas federal involvement in the food and the agriculture include the food safety, labeling and guidance of dietary, nutrition and agriculture (U.S FDA, 2009). This section also encompasses industrial projects in the food and agricultural sector, as well as the roles of organizations that advocate for the development of policies on food and agriculture. However, the three arms of the government namely the legislature, the judiciary and the executive, have all played a key role in facilitating the achievement of the modern food and agricultural policies in the U.S.


Regulatory standards and measurement

Regulation of the agricultural products produced by the biometry started on Atlantic but later took different paths. The first step towards regulation in the US was cautious. In the year 1980, a high-level scientist crew made a temporary moratorium on genetic engineering. The position was reaffirmed by a conference of Asilomar biologists. Five years later, the National Institute of Health introduced regulations for all laboratories that conducted experiments funded by the federal governments on genetic engineering (Earthscan, 2011). However, the practice of the scientific community to apply strict regulatory control was later undermined by growing biotechnology commercial potential awareness.

The growth of experimenting that was privately funded became increasingly irrelevant. The United States federal government has been facing to critical issues while deciding on the best regulatory approach for genetically modified agricultural products (Earthscan, 2011).

The US Senate Committee on Agriculture held its first-ever Congressional hearing on the GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods and in December 2007, legislation was brought in the house of Congress requiring labeling of the genetically modified foods. The FDA held a sequence of hearings to reexamine whether GMO foods should be classified as an addictive and thus carry a mandatory labeling. The organization further explored the needs for further testing of these kinds of food to ensure that all consumers were safe (Edwards, 2009). For this reason, the EPA(Environmental Protection Agency) deemed it necessary to start reviewing its policies with a view to ascertaining if GM seeds and food applied to pest control regulations. Accordingly, the EPA issued a directive in 2013 to the effect that all companies in the U.S involved in marketing of corn products should endeavor to assist farmers to volunteer in planting a traditional seed known as buffer zone corn. This directive was sen as an attempt by the EPA to protect the monarch butterflies.


The United States’ food and agriculture department has decided to assumed ore risk adverse policies as regards GMOs. The U.S has also been characterized by successive failures in regulation to the point where they had threatened to jeopardize public confidence at the national level. However, implementing of these policies have enabled regulatory officials in the food and agriculture sector to realize significant progress in their quest to ensure public safety and health.



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            Managing systems at risk. Milton Park, Abingdon: Earthscan.

Edwards, C. (2009). Agricultural Subsidies: Overview. Retrieved from

U.S Census Bureau (2012). Agriculture: Agricultural exports & imports. Retrieved from


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (2012. Exports. Retrieved from


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (2012). Foreign Agricultural Trade of the

            United States (FATUS): Overview. Retrieved from


U.S Food and Drug Administration (2009). Activists in the 1906 Legislation Campaign.

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