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Uses and Publications

Table of Contents

Uses of Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) Data

  • Official estimates:
    • Farm finances: ARMS data provide the foundation for official USDA estimates of the income, assets, and debt of the farm sector, farm businesses, and farm households. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), in turn, includes estimates of net farm income in its annual estimates of gross domestic product and personal income and in the development of State and local area personal income estimates.
    • Cost of production: ARMS data are used to fulfill a congressional mandate to produce cost of production estimates for commodities covered by farm support programs.
    • Agricultural productivity: ARMS price and expenditure data are incorporated into USDA estimates of agricultural productivity.
    • Chemical use: to meet the requirements of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 and the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, ARMS collects data on field crop chemical use.
  • Staff analysis: ARMS data are used to respond to informational requests from non-profit groups and government stakeholders such as other USDA agencies, Congress, and the White House. Examples of such requests include:
    • Calculating farm energy cost-to-output ratios
    • Highlighting the distribution of farm income, household income, and potential problems servicing debt
    • Explaining the distribution of farm program payments, and
    • Identifying the characteristics of producers purchasing crop insurance.
  • Program administration: ARMS data aid the administration of government programs.
    • ARMS data provide the basis for weights to calculate the Prices Paid by Farmers Index, used to calculate parity prices required by the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act. Parity prices help regulate some 45 fruit, vegetable, and nut Federal marketing orders.
    • The Agricultural Marketing Service uses ARMS data to derive estimates of the cost of milk production.
    • The Risk Management Agency uses tabulations of ARMS to understand what risk management tools are most commonly used by farmers.
    • The Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Services have used ARMS data to plan its programs regarding pest management strategies.
  • Publications/research: ERS uses ARMS data for research and publications on variety of topics, including farm management, technology adoption, resource use, and farm household well-being. See the next section for examples.

Selected ERS Publications Using ARMS

  • The Off-Farm Occupations of U.S. Farm Operators and Their Spouses
    EIB-117, September 2013
    Most farm households earn all of their income from nonfarm sources and even those operating larger farms often have substantial nonfarm income. This study finds that when farm operators and their spouses work off-farm, they are most likely to hold a management or professional occupation.
  • Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming
    ERR-152, August 2013
    Crop production and land have been shifting to larger farm operations—mostly from midsize operations. The report draws on comprehensive farm-level data to detail changes in farm size and other attributes of farm structure, and to evaluate the key driving forces, including technologies, farm organization and business relationships, land attributes, and government policies.
  • Agriculture's Supply and Demand for Energy and Energy Products
    EIB-112, May 2013
    This report examines both sector and farm-level responses to changing market and policy drivers—such as the increased production of biofuel crops and higher energy prices—together with changes in production practices to economize on energy-based inputs like fertilizer.
  • Potential Farm-Level Effects of Eliminating Direct Payments
    EIB-103, November 2012
    Since 2003, direct payments have accounted for a significant portion of farm program payments. If direct payments were eliminated, many agricultural producers would be affected, both through the loss of income and potential declines in land values and rental rates.
  • Nitrogen Management on U.S. Corn Acres, 2001-10
    EB-20, November 2012
    Nitrogen is a critical input in agriculture, enabling farmers to produce high crop yields profitably. However, nitrogen compounds released into the environment are a source of environmental problems. Improved nitrogen management on cropland has been a longstanding goal of USDA conservation policy.
  • Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2012
    EIB-98, August 2012
    Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2012, describes trends in economic, structural, resource, and environmental indicators in the agriculture sector, focusing on changes since the release of Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2006.
  • Farm Activities Associated With Rural Development Initiatives
    ERR-134, May 2012
    Since 2002, USDA’s Rural Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantee program has increased its emphasis on farm-related business activities associated with renewable energy, local/regional food, and value-added agriculture.
  • The Future of Environmental Compliance Incentives in U.S. Agriculture
    EIB-94, March 2012
    In recent years, direct payments—a type of farm commodity program payment—have made up a large share of Federal agriculture assistance that could be withheld from farmers who fail to comply with highly erodible land conservation (conservation compliance and sodbuster) or wetland conservation (swampbuster) provisions, known collectively as environmental compliance requirements.
  • Trends in U.S. Farmland Values and Ownership
    EIB-92, February 2012
    Because farm real estate represents much of the value of U.S. farm sector assets, large swings in farmland values can affect the financial well-being of agricultural producers. This report examines both macroeconomic (interest rates, prices of alternative investments) and parcel-specific (soil quality, government payments, proximity to urban areas) factors that affect farmland values.

Other Material Highlighting ARMS

  • ARMS Uses Video
    James MacDonald of ERS explains financial reports, policy relevant reports, and custom reports and how the ARMS data support them.
  • 2012 Soybean Highlights
    USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and ERS conducted the ARMS survey of the U.S. soybean industry. During the summer and fall of 2012 and winter of 2013, trained enumerators conducted personal interviews with almost 2,500 soybean growers in the 19 largest soybean-producing States. The farmers provided information about their production practices, operating costs, and soybean production. This publication, one of the first that uses the new soybean data, includes highlights of production practices and resource use. You can also download a PDF version of the soybean highlights PDF icon (16x16).
  • 2011 Broiler Highlights
    During the first three months of 2012, trained enumerators conducted personal interviews with more than 2,000 broiler growers in the 17 largest broiler-producing states. The farmers provided information about their operating costs and farm-related income. Broiler producers were also asked about feed, housing, and sales during 2011. The following results are highlights of production practices and resource use. ARMS results indicate that U.S. broiler production is shifting toward larger birds. You can also download a PDF version of the broiler highlights PDF icon (16x16).

Last updated: Thursday, May 29, 2014

For more information contact: Mitch Morehart