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CBEAR projects

Center for Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Research receives USDA grants

The Center for Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Research (CBEAR), a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) national Center of Excellence that is housed in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has recently received multiple new grants to support innovative behavioral economics research at the nexus of agriculture and the environment.

These projects have all received funding from the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Foundational Program and the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS):

• Understanding Agricultural Water Use Behavior Through Randomized Controlled Trials. Mark Masters, director of the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center at Albany State University, will be leading an initiative to use a randomized controlled trial to study participation in a voluntary information reporting program. The project will be conducted in Georgia and Colorado, where producers will be asked to report their monthly irrigation water usage to the program.

• Behavioral Economics of Time Preferences, Risk Preferences and Agri-Environmental Program Participation among U.S. Producers. Paul J. Ferraro, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Business and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, will lead a team that will use both theoretical and experimental methods to understand how producers view the benefits and costs of USDA programs. The results of these studies are expected to inform researchers how to elicit time and risk preferences from agricultural producer populations.

• Conference on Advancing Behavioral and Experimental Economics Methods and Applications to Sustainable Environmental and Agricultural Management. Leah H. Palm-Forster, assistant professor in UD’s Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, will be organizing the Conference on Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Research: Methodological Advancements and Applications to Policy. This conference will showcase experimental and behavioral economics research that addresses agri-environmental management and policy challenges. Additional information is available on the webpage.


CBEAR is a collaborative group of researchers that incorporates behavioral insights into program designs, primarily within USDA, to achieve greater levels of participation and satisfaction, improved environmental outcomes and reduced program costs.

Directed jointly by research leaders at the University of Delaware and Johns Hopkins University and founded through funding from the USDA Economic Research Service, CBEAR efforts are supported by a diverse group of research professionals within academia and government from across the United States. For more information, visit the website

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