Grants Further Environmental Policy Research

May 21, 2014

Two grants totaling almost $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture were recently awarded to Cornell faculty members.

Mildred Warner, professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning, will partner with colleagues in the Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI); Binghamton University assistant professor George Homsy (M.R.P. '04, Ph.D. '13); the International City/County Management Association (ICMA); and the American Planning Association to explore how rural communities balance economic development and environmental protection as part of a $495,168 grant.

"Climate change is a contentious area of public policy that pits the drive for economic development against the global imperative of environmental protection. Thrust into the middle are rural governments which struggle, often on their own, to protect both local jobs and the environment — a challenge made worse since the recession," Warner said.

Absent national leadership on climate change, local governments have recognized many ways they can promote sustainability — through building codes, zoning rules, government purchasing, and service provisions such as transit and home weatherization, Warner said. Her preliminary research — presented in a briefing paper from the ICMA Center for Sustainable Communities — identified rural municipalities that are unlikely pioneers in their responses to climate change.

"The majority of Americans live in smaller communities under 25,000 [in] population. The national surveys conducted under this project will explore the factors that lead these communities to act and the constraints they face, and provide guidance for local, state, regional and national policy," she added.

The second grant, in the amount of $499,998, was awarded to Harry de Gorter, a professor at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and will allow researchers to delve deeper into the intricate interactions between crops and biofuel policies at home and abroad, and their implications for the international competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.

"Understanding the new era of crop prices and biofuels policies is important not only for price forecasting and market analysis, but also for environmental and social welfare issues," said de Gorter, who will be evaluating the implications of evolving domestic and international biofuel policies on food grain and oilseed markets and value-added agriculture, and their effectiveness in meeting energy, environmental and agricultural policy goals.

Adapted from a story by Stacey Shackford, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, that appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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