Wendong Zhang, associate professor, is leading a project that aims to understand nutrient impacts on rural and lower-income communities.
Co-investigators on the project, “Environmental Justice for All: Nutrient Impacts on Lake-Based Recreation and Tourism by Rural and Socially Disadvantaged Iowans,” include Yongjie Ji, research scientist with the Center for Agricultural Research and Development (CARD); David Swenson and Liesl Eathington, research scientists, economics; and Xibo Wan and Wenran Fan, doctoral students, economics.
The project is jointly funded by the Iowa Water Center and the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University through a special grant program designed to encourage research on the social dimensions of Iowa water quality.
Zhang was also quoted in an Autumn 2021 story in Earth Island Journal, "Foreign Hand," about how foreign companies are increasingly looking to buy up US farmland.
A major trigger for the increase was the 2008 economic recession, when the stock market collapse led foreign entities to seek alternative investments. In farmland, they found a lucrative option, says Wendong Zhang, an economics professor at Iowa State University. Some of the biggest purchasers of land are investment and pension funds, which see farmland as a valuable asset in a larger investment portfolio.
“They’re increasingly thinking about farmland not only as the one [investment] that you can generate cash from, but also where you can store wealth, and also where you can diversify from other assets,” Zhang says.