This is the debut of a sporadic digest of somewhat more weighty documents than typical digest items. The "Research" digest will include scientific papers, policy reports, and similar academic items.
Today's edition is a collection of Congressional Research Service reports. If you have never heard of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), that's not surprising. Although the organization spends $100 million in taxpayer funds each year, the reports are officially reserved for members of Congress and their staffs, and therefore most never make it off of Capitol Hill. But some groups, like Open CRS, collect reports for distribution to the public (there is also a company that sells the CRS reports for a hefty fee). Open CRS has RSS feeds to help you stay on top of their latest acquisitions. If you are interested in food policy at the Congressional level, it's a must-read feed. The reports are handy to have when you want to dig up statistics on Farm Bill spending or other policy-related topics.
Here are some recent CRS reports addressing food and agriculture (at least the ones that have been leaked):
Food Safety: Selected Issues and Bills in the 110th Congress: This report reviews food safety-related legislation pending in the 110th Congress.
International Food Aid and the 2007 Farm Bill: A review of current international food aid programs, how the House-passed Farm Bill ( H.R. 2419) addresses food aid, and what the Senate's bill might contain.
Possible Expiration of the 2002 Farm Bill: What happens if Congress can't pass a Food and Farm Bill before the September 30 deadline.
Sugar Policy and the 2007 Farm Bill: How the Food and Farm Bill might affect current sugar policy, which is a complex mish-mash of quotas, subsidies, and other gimmicks.
The House-Passed 2007 Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) at a Glance: A summary of the House-passed legislation and comparisons to current law.
Meat and Poultry Inspection: Background and Selected Issues: How the current inspection system is designed and legislation proposed that will change it.