Signing of the IWR-USDA Economic Research Service MOU

WASHINGTON - During a special ceremony July 28, 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Economic Research (ERS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Institute for Water Resources (IWR) signed a partnership agreement designed to increase the sharing of information and collaboration on transportation-related economic research between the two agencies.

Susan E. Offutt, Administrator, Economic Research Service, and Robert A. Pietrowsky, Director, Institute for Water Resources signed the partnership agreement (pdf, 17KB) during a signing ceremony at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

This partnership agreement will enable ERS and IWR to collaborate in executing each agency’s responsibilities for developing and using economic data and analysis for both applied research and public dissemination. The USDA-ERS and USACE-IWR share a mutual interest in expanding our understanding of the relationship between intermodal freight transportation movements and U.S. economic activity. More specifically, both agencies are interested in the quality of data and analysis describing economic commodity flows occurring within the geography of the United States.

The USACE interest stems from the Corps Civil Works mission which includes developing, operating and maintaining the Nation’s inland waterway navigation system. IWR supports this mission by performing research and analysis aimed at improving the data, evaluation methods, and analytical tools used to inform agency investment decision-making. The Institute is currently conducting an ambitious research program - the Navigation Economic Technologies (NETS) program - to support this mission by developing state-of-the-art, independently-verified economic models, tools and techniques for assessing the economic feasibility of water transportation investments at the Nation’s ports and waterways. Learn more about NETS research activities currently underway and completed.

The USDA serves as the focal point within the federal government on issues related to agriculture and rural development, and is actively engaged in assessing the safety, security and efficiency of the U.S. food distribution systems, and by extension, the transportation infrastructure system for shipping agricultural products from the U.S. farmer to the ultimate consumer within the U.S. or overseas.

The agreement formalizes a collaborative approach to conducting national economic studies through the creation of an Economic Working Group between the Economic Research Service and the Institute. The working group will combine IWR expertise in economics, transportation policy and systems planning, with ERS expertise in agricultural economics, production/consumption patterns, and national economic models. It is expected that the partnership’s focus on joint research and the development of a common framework for economic model development will also help improve communications and sharing of economic data related to estimating the geographical distribution of production and consumption activities for agriculture products in the U.S.