EPAS's work is largely quantitative market and program analysis - supply, demand, price, incoming, participation rates, and outlay estimates/projections. These responsibilities are divided among the six individual groups composing EPAS. EPAS employees have an economics or agricultural economics background - about three-fourths with doctorate degrees and one-fourth with masters' degrees. Along with relatively high educational backgrounds, come noticeably above-average writing, computer, and quantitative skills.
The combination of EPAS's responsibilities and talents results in its significant interface with the Foreign Agricultural Service, Economic Research Service, World Board, Chief Economist, Office of Budget and Program Analysis, Congressional Budget Office, Office of Management and Budget, and producer/trade organizations. This interface contributes to EPAS (1) having very current insights into market, program, and policy issues, and (2) being called upon to brief policy officials and foreign visitors. Lastly, EPAS analysts have long been USDA's chief resource for drafting, summarizing, and analyzing farm program legislative proposals.
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Structure and Organization of EPAS
DSA serves as the Farm Service Agency's (FSA's) primary analytical resource for formulating, developing, analyzing, and evaluating national program policies, determinations and program alternatives for dairy, livestock, and sugar (sugarcane, sugar beets, and honey), including detailed summaries of impacts on supply, demand, price, income, and CCC outlays. DSA staff produce a broad range of analysis assessing USDA commodity program and policy effectiveness.
The Farm Loan Analysis Group serves as a primary analytical resource in the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for several diverse program areas. FLA's responsibilities include the formulation, development, analysis, and evaluation of county loan rates for the marketing assistance loan and loan deficiency payment programs for wheat (5 classes), feed grains, and oilseeds. The group serves as FSA's primary analytical resource for the economic analysis and evaluation of FSA's farm loan programs, including both direct and guaranteed loans made to farmers and ranchers. In addition, FLA is also responsible for conducting analyses of the projected impacts of payment limitation proposals, and for tracking the distribution of program benefits among various political jurisdictions, such as States and congressional districts.
The Feed Grains and Oilseeds Analysis Group serves as Farm Service Agency's (FSA's) primary analytical resource for the formulation, development, analysis and evaluation of marketing loan and income support programs for feed grains (corn, sorghum, barley, and oats), oilseeds (soybeans, sunflower seed (oil and non-oil types), safflower, flaxseed, rapeseed, canola, mustard seed, crambe, and sesame), as determined and announced by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). The group provides economic and marketing analyses of feed grains and oilseeds production and utilization, evaluating existing program policies and assessing the impact of program alternatives on existing operations.
Fibers, Peanuts and Tobacco Analysis Group (FPTAG) staff serves as the Farm Service Agency's (FSA's) primary analytical resource for the formulating, developing, analyzing, and evaluating marketing loan and income support programs for cotton, wool, mohair, peanuts, and tobacco as determined and announced by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). FPTAG staff produces a broad range of analysis for assessing the effectiveness of USDA commodity programs and policies.
The Food Grains Analysis Group conducts policy and market analysis on wheat, rice, and pulses and advises USDA policymakers on programs for these crops. They project program outlays and commodity loans; analyze market and policy information for setting loan rates for rice, dry peas, lentils, and small chickpeas; and provide input for determining the weekly loan repayment rate for rice. The group is also a major contributor to the Department's monthly and baseline forecasts of supply, demand, and prices for food grains.
The Natural Resources Analysis Group (NRA), Economic Policy and Analysis Staff, serves the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and USDA as the primary analytical resource for the analysis of economic issues related to existing and proposed natural resource policies and programs. NRA provides analyses to assist FSA managers in carrying-out conservation programs. Most work relates to the Conservation Reserve Program. Much of this work involves confidential analyses and is not published. NRA also conducts cost-benefit assessments in support of the rule-making process for FSA conservation and disaster programs.
The Regulatory Review Group (RRG) provides central direction and coordination for the drafting, clearance, and codification of regulations covering the activities administered by FSA to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Federal Register Act, Administrative Procedures Act, Paperwork Reduction Act and other regulatory review procedures mandated by the Department and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). RRG serves as the liaison between the Agency and the Department, OMB, the Office of the Federal Register and other agencies regarding issues relating to the publication and codification of FSA and CCC regulations and other Federal Register documents.