Specialty crops have become increasingly important relative to other categories of agricultural production in the United States over the past 50 years, especially during the past 25 years. The growth in the value of production of specialty crops has not been matched by commensurate growth in public agricultural research spending. The specialty crops' share of spending on crops research (or on all agricultural research) has remained approximately constant during a period when the specialty crops' share of the value of production has increased significantly. This article reviews trends in the economic importance of specialty crops, and public funding for specialty crops research, and examines arguments and evidence about whether the total funding for specialty crops research is too little and whether the share of agricultural research funding allocated to specialty crops should increase. Although the evidence is mixed, we conclude that specialty crops research is underfunded and that a case can be made for increasing the share of agricultural research funding going to specialty crops. A producer check-off program with a matching government grant could be developed to give incentives to both the industry and the government to help enhance research funding.
Julian M. Alston and Philip G. Pardey
Jennifer Drew, Chengyan Yue, Neil O. Anderson, and Philip G. Pardey
The value and role of intellectual property (IP) rights pertaining to plant innovations and their economic consequences on plant values is largely unknown. A hedonic pricing model was adapted to the characteristics of the U.S. wholesale ornamental plant market, specifically the bedding, garden plant and nursery plant markets, to analyze two forms of IP rights used on plants (i.e., plant patents and trademarks). By controlling plant-specific attributes and a variety of market variables that might affect plant values, our empirical analysis reveals sizable price premiums for plant patents that may have been masked in other studies. As expected, plant patent premiums vary considerably between species where the costs of producing and marketing new cultivars differ greatly. Surprisingly, we find that the use of trademarks have a negative effect on plant prices.