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156 publications, sorted by date 

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EIB-122, April 08, 2014
This report presents data on debt-use patterns by farm businesses and explores key trends over 20 years.
Amber Waves, April 08, 2014
Debt owed by U.S. farm businesses rose 39 percent between 1992 and 2011, after adjusting for inflation. Despite rising debts, financial leverage—measured as debt relative to the value of assets—declined over this period for the typical farm business. Debt use and financial leverage varies widely, bu...
Amber Waves, March 04, 2014
The United Nations (UN) has designated 2014 the “International Year of Family Farming” with a primary focus on small farms that depend on a family for most labor. Farms in the U.S. are often much larger than the farms in developing countries that are the primary focus of the UN’s efforts, but farms ...
Amber Waves, March 04, 2014
Farmers planted about 170 million acres of GE crops in 2013—principally corn, cotton, and soybeans—representing about half of the U.S. farmland used to grow crops. Pest management traits are the main feature engineered into GE crops grown, but over time, traits providing protection against additiona...
ERR-163, March 03, 2014
Public risk management policies for dairy producers have the potential to induce expansion in milk supplies, which might lower farm-level prices and offset risk-reduction benefits. An evaluation of USDA’s Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy insurance program finds economic downside risk significantly redu...
ERR-162, February 20, 2014
Genetically engineered (GE) crops (mainly corn, cotton, and soybeans) were planted on 169 million acres in 2013, about half of U.S. land used for crops. Their adoption has saved farmers time, reduced insecticide use, and enabled the use of less toxic herbicides. Research and development of new GE va...
Amber Waves, February 03, 2014
U.S. hog farm numbers dropped by 70 percent over 1991-2009 while hog inventories remained stable. The result has been an industry with larger hog enterprises, increased specialization in a single phase of production, greater reliance on purchased rather than homegrown feed, and greater use of produc...
ERR-158, October 23, 2013
U.S. hog farm numbers dropped by 70 percent over 1991-2009 while hog inventories remained stable. The result has been an industry with larger hog enterprises, increased specialization in a single phase of production, greater reliance on purchased rather than homegrown feed, and greater us of produc...
AP-062, September 16, 2013
This collection of nine charts and maps presents essential information on the farm sector, food spending and prices, food security, rural communities, and the interaction of agriculture and natural resources.
Amber Waves, September 03, 2013
Over the past three decades, U.S. crop production has been shifting to larger farms for most crops and in most States. Despite the shift, family farms continue to dominate U.S. crop production, accounting for 87 percent of the total value of U.S. crop production in 2011.
Amber Waves, August 14, 2013
From 2005 to 2010, expiring corn, soybeans, and wheat futures contracts routinely settled at prices significantly higher than their cash market counterparts. Findings show that the observed non-convergence was an unintended consequence of market design rather than speculative trading.
ERR-152, August 05, 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 organiza...
Amber Waves, July 01, 2013
Since USDA conservation programs are voluntary, farmers base their participation decisions on local conditions, among other factors, and those decisions are influenced by the level of local drought risk. This is a form of climate adaptation.
Amber Waves, May 20, 2013
Initial indications suggest continued expansion of U.S. corn and soybean acres at the expense of rice and cotton. Factors behind the acreage shift include growing U.S. ethanol production, rising demand in China for U.S. soybeans, and new competition for U.S. wheat from Black Sea wheat exporters.
EIB-112, May 13, 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.
Amber Waves, May 06, 2013
Agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa has been rising gradually since the 1980s. Agricultural research has spurred adoption of new technologies and has been a major driver of higher productivity in Sub-Saharan African agriculture. Despite these gains, productivity growth in the region rem...
ERR-148, April 30, 2013
This report evaluates the extent to which farms facing higher levels of drought risk are more likely to participate in conservation programs, and finds a strong link between drought risk and program participation.
Amber Waves, April 01, 2013
Farm households that also operate nonfarm businesses have accounted for roughly 18 percent of U.S. farm households since the 1990s. In 2007, farmer-owned nonfarm businesses employed over 800,000 nonfarm workers and contributed an estimated $55 billion to their local communities’ gross county product...
VGS-353, March 29, 2013
This issue covers basic supply, demand, price, and trade analysis for fresh market vegetables, processing vegetables, and potatoes. Features include a discussion of bell peppers, longrun outlook, Food Safety Modernization Act, and China's vegetable exports.
Amber Waves, February 21, 2013
While the impact that climate change will have on future growing conditions in specific areas of the country remains uncertain, the ability of farmers to adapt to climate change—through planting decisions, farming practices, and use of technology—can reduce its impact on production, farm commodity p...
Amber Waves, February 21, 2013
The complexity of the current tax code, together with perceptions that it distorts economically efficient decisions and is inequitable, has led to calls for fundamental tax reform.
EIB-107, February 04, 2013
An analysis of the potential impact of tax reform proposals on farm businesses and rural households in the United States.
EB-22, January 30, 2013
Beginning farmers and ranchers have some unique characteristics, including more education and more off-farm jobs, compared with established farmers and ranchers.
Amber Waves, December 03, 2012
The leading agricultural input firms are multinational companies with R&D facilities located around the world. These global research networks allow large firms to develop and adapt new technologies to local conditions, meet national regulatory requirements for new product introductions, and achieve ...
EIB-103, November 16, 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. This report considers the potentia...
EIB-101, October 31, 2012
Almost a third of U.S. farm households generate income by engaging in business ventures independent of commodity production, with distinctly different community and household benefits. In 2007, 686,600 farm households engaged in 791,000 income-generating activities distinct from commodity product...
Amber Waves, September 20, 2012
Total factor productivity in agriculture is showing rapid growth at the global level led by improved performance in China and Brazil, although the global rate of growth in harvested yield for major grains and oilseeds has slowed. Agricultural productivity growth may be slowing in some countries and ...
Amber Waves, September 20, 2012
Farmland values have been rising but so have farm earnings. Historically low interest rates contribute to sustained high farmland prices and have helped improve the affordability of farmland. Strong farm earnings have dampened the impact of a significant downturn in residential land markets.
Amber Waves, September 20, 2012
Creating and maintaining a broad portfolio of wealth may be central to sustainable rural prosperity. However, the impacts that rural development strategies have on wealth and the impacts of existing wealth on those strategies are generally not well understood.
ERR-136, July 06, 2012
Global climate models predict increases over time in average temperature worldwide, with significant impacts on local patterns of temperature and precipitation. The extent to which such changes present a risk to food supplies, farmer livelihoods, and rural communities depends in part on the directio...
ERR-135, May 22, 2012
Large shifts in the supply of foreign-born, hired farm labor resulting from substantial changes in U.S. immigration laws or policies could have significant economic implications. A computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the U.S. economy is used to evaluate how changes in the supply of foreign...
WRS-1201, May 22, 2012
U.S. agriculture was better positioned than most United States industries entering the recession, was less affected by the recession than most other industries, and is well positioned to continue to do well as the economy recovers.
ERR-134, May 16, 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. Other new programs and program modifications also have focused on these and o...
EIB-94, March 14, 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 (swampb...
Amber Waves, March 01, 2012
As agricultural production has shifted to farms with larger sales, so, too, has the distribution of commodity-related program payments. Unless the design of commodity programs changes substantially, current payment trends are likely to continue.
Amber Waves, March 01, 2012
The ACRE program relies on State- and farm-level revenue payment triggers to provide producers with an alternative to price-based and direct payment commodity programs. Switching from a State-level trigger to one closer to the farm level would generally increase expected payments, but the impact wou...
EIB-92, February 22, 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 quali...
EIB-91, February 06, 2012
The distribution of commodity-related payments and Federal crop insurance indemnities to U.S. farmers has shifted to larger farms as more and more U.S. agricultural production is done on those farms. Since the operators of larger farms tend to have higher household incomes than other farm operators,...
EIB-90, December 30, 2011
Meeting growing global demand for food, fiber, and biofuel requires robust investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) from both public and private sectors. This report highlights the major findings of a study examining global R&D spending by private industry in seven agricultural inpu...
EIB-89, December 19, 2011
The United States has a total land area of nearly 2.3 billion acres. In 2007, the major land uses were forestland at 671 million acres (30 percent); grassland pasture and rangeland at 614 million (27 percent); cropland at 408 million (18 percent); special uses (primarily parks and wildlife areas) at...
AIS-91, December 14, 2011
Net farm income is forecast at $100.9 billion in 2011, up 28 percent from 2010 and 50 percent higher than the 10-year average of $67.4 billion for 2001-2010. Net cash income at $109.8 billion would be a nominal record, 19 percent above the prior record attained in 2010. Net value added is expected t...
EIB-88, December 02, 2011
Innovations in farm organization, business arrangements, and production practices have allowed farmers to produce more with less. Fewer labor hours and less land are used today than 30 years ago, and practices such as the use of genetically engineered seeds and no-till have dampened increases in mac...
ERR-128, November 04, 2011
This study uses nationally representative data on marketing of local foods to assess the relative scale of local food marketing channels. This research documents that sales through intermediated marketing channels, such as farmers’ sales to local grocers and restaurants, account for a large portion ...
FDS: FEED OUTLOOK-11I01, October 13, 2011
Corn-based dry-mill ethanol production and its coproducts – notably distillers’ dried grains with soluble (DDGS) – have surged in recent years. The report estimates the potential substitution of DDGS for corn and soybean meal in livestock feeding and the impact of substitution upon the U.S. feed com...
EIB-84, October 12, 2011
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 eliminates direct and countercyclical payments (DCP) and average crop revenue election program payments to farms with 10 or fewer base acres. This report examines the effects of the provision. Findings suggest that Federal budgetary savings from the pro...
ERR-127, September 22, 2011
Nitrogen is an important agricultural input that is critical for crop production. However, the introduction of large amounts of nitrogen into the environment has a number of undesirable impacts on water, terrestrial, and atmospheric resources. This report explores the use of nitrogen in U.S. agricul...
ERR-126, September 15, 2011
The Average Crop Revenue Election, or ACRE, program is a commodity support program that bases coverage on aggregate State-level and individual farm-level revenue variability. Changing the level of aggregation from State to one closer to the farm level—Crop Reporting District or county—would generall...
EIB-79, August 18, 2011
The recent 9-billion-gallon increase in corn-based ethanol production, which resulted from a combination of rising gasoline prices and a suite of Federal bioenergy policies, provides evidence of how farmers altered their land-use decisions in response to increased demand for corn. As some forecasts ...
ERR-123, August 18, 2011
Agricultural production is sensitive to changes in energy prices, either through energy consumed directly or through energy-related inputs such as fertilizer. A number of factors can affect energy prices faced by U.S. farmers and ranchers, including developments in the oil and natural gas markets, a...
BIO-02, June 27, 2011
This report profiles and analyzes Brazil’s ethanol industry, providing information on the policy environment that enabled the development of feedstock and processing sectors, and discusses the various opportunities and challenges to face the industry over the next decade.
Amber Waves, June 16, 2011
Increased use of the tax code for policy goals has boosted incomes of rural taxpayers, who tend to have lower incomes and higher poverty than urban taxpayers.
EIB-77, May 26, 2011
The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 eliminated tobacco quotas and tobacco price supports and allowed producers to plant any amount or type of tobacco regardless of geographic location. The authors found that flue-cured tobacco producers made greater adjustments to their operations afte...
RCS-11d-01, April 21, 2011
This report examines how the structure of the U.S. rice industry has evolved over the past two decades, including a reduction in the number of farms, increased average farm size, and the shifting concentration of rice production away from higher-cost production regions. The authors analyze the econo...
EIB-73, March 28, 2011
Beef cow-calf production in the United States is widespread, occurring in every State. Nearly 765,000 farms, about 35 percent of the 2.2 million farms in the United States, had a beef cow inventory in 2007. Most of these were small, part-time operations. About a third of farms that raise beef animal...
Amber Waves, March 14, 2011
According to USDA long-term projections, continued income growth will make developing countries the main source of the projected increases in global food demand and trade.
EIB-72, February 14, 2011
Marketing and production contracts covered 39 percent of the value of U.S. agricultural production in 2008, up from 36 percent in 2001, and a substantial increase over 28 percent in 1991 and 11 percent in 1969. However, aggregate contract use has stabilized in recent years and no longer suggests a s...
OCE-111, February 14, 2011
This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2020. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.
ERR-110, February 11, 2011
This report considers how increased commodity prices might influence enrollment in and benefits from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) using two complementary models: a likely-to-bid model that uses National Resources Inventory data to simulate offers to the general signup portion of the CRP an...
VGS-342-01, February 03, 2011
This report presents a financial snapshot of the U.S. vegetable and melon farms by region and farm size over three 3-year periods (1999-2007).
AIS-90, December 15, 2010
Net farm income is forecast at $81.6 billion in 2010, up 31 percent from 2009 and 26 percent higher than the 10-year average of $64.8 billion for 2000 to 2009. Net cash income at $92.5 billion would be a nominal record, 2.3 percent above the prior record attained in 2008. Net value added is expected...
FDS-10k-01, December 09, 2010
Growth in corn dry-mill ethanol production has surged in the past several years, simultaneously creating a coproduct—distillers’ grains (DDGS). Many in the U.S. feed industry were concerned about the size of this new feed source and whether it could be used entirely by the feed industry, but they al...
ERR-106, November 12, 2010
Fruit and vegetable production is a labor-intensive process, and over half of the hired workers employed by growers are believed to be unauthorized immigrants. Reforms to immigration laws, if they reduce the labor supply, may increase the cost of farm labor. The authors of this report assess how par...
AIS-89, November 10, 2010
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act makes significant changes to Federal regulation of the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market, with the goals of improving market transparency and reducing systemic default risk. This article reviews some important features of the...
ERR-102, October 21, 2010
Achieving greater energy security by reducing dependence on foreign petroleum is a goal of U.S. energy policy. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) calls for a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS-2), which mandates that the United States increase the volume of biofuel that is blended int...
Amber Waves, September 01, 2010
The continuing shift in production away from small commercial farms to larger farms is driven by financial pressures and aging operators.
Amber Waves, September 01, 2010
The rate of growth in global agricultural productivity has accelerated in recent decades and accounts for an increasing share of expanding agricultural production.
EIB-66, July 26, 2010
Most U.S. farms—98 percent in 2007—are family operations, and even the largest farms are predominantly family run. Large-scale family farms and nonfamily farms account for 12 percent of U.S farms but 84 percent of the value of production. In contrast, small family farms make up most of the U.S. farm...
EIB-67, July 26, 2010
American farms vary widely in size and other characteristics, but farming is still an industry of family businesses. Ninety-eight percent of farms are family farms, and they account for 82 percent of farm production. Small family farms make up most of the U.S. farm count and hold the majority of far...
ERR-99, June 21, 2010
A series of coordinated case studies compares the structure, size, and performance of local food supply chains with those of mainstream supply chains. Interviews and site visits with farms and businesses, supplemented with secondary data, describe how food moves from farms to consumers in 15 food su...
ERR-97, May 17, 2010
This comprehensive overview of local food systems explores alternative definitions of local food, estimates market size and reach, describes the characteristics of local consumers and producers, and examines early indications of the economic and health impacts of local food systems. There is no cons...
BIO-01-01, May 14, 2010
This report assesses the short-term outlook for production of next-generation biofuels and the near-term challenges facing the sector. Next-generation U.S. biofuel capacity should reach about 88 million gallons in 2010, thanks in large measure to one plant becoming commercially operational in 2010, ...
EIB-63, February 18, 2010
Ninety-one percent of U.S. farms are classified as small—gross cash farm income (GCFI) of less than $250,000. About 60 percent of these small farms are very small, generating GCFI of less than $10,000. These very small noncommercial farms, in some respects, exist independently of the farm economy be...
ERR-91, February 12, 2010
Household economic well-being can be gauged by the financial resources (income/wealth) available to the household or by the standard of living enjoyed by household members (consumption). Based on responses to USDA's annual Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), a joint effort by the Economi...
OCE-2010-1, February 11, 2010
This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2019. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.
OCS-10a-01, February 01, 2010
The 2009 foodborne illness outbreak linked to Salmonella in peanut products resulted in one of the largest food safety recalls ever in the United States. The source of the outbreak handled a small share of the U.S. peanut supply, but the scope of the recalls was magnified because the peanut products...
AIS-88, December 22, 2009
All three measures of U.S. farm income are projected to decline in 2009—net farm income is projected to decline by 34.5 percent, net cash income by 28.4 percent, and net value added by 20 percent. Considerable uncertainty surrounds the forecasts of farm assets, debt, and equity in 2009, given the vo...
Amber Waves, December 01, 2009
The capital structure of U.S. farms has changed over the last two decades. Fewer farms have outstanding debts than in the past, but debt carried is concentrated among fewer and larger farms.
Amber Waves, December 01, 2009
Farm legislation in the early 2000s eliminated longstanding supply controls and geographic restrictions on the production of peanuts and tobacco. The ensuing consolidation produced fewer but larger farms for each crop that are more efficient and responsive to market developments.
ERR-88, November 17, 2009
The livestock industry uses information on meat prices at different stages in the marketing system to make production decisions. When grocery stores began using electronic scanners to capture prices paid for meat, it was assumed that the livestock industry could capitalize on having these point-of-s...
AIS-87, November 16, 2009
Income and wealth for farm businesses have changed noticeably this decade. Debt levels have been rising, asset levels have outpaced debt despite a recent fall in land prices, and equity has more than doubled for farm businesses. However, recent declines in farm income and falling land prices have ra...
EIB-60, November 16, 2009
Marketing quota and price support programs for peanuts and tobacco were a longstanding feature of U.S. farm policy, from the 1930s until the Government enacted quota buyouts, in 2002 for peanuts and 2004 for tobacco. Quota owners were compensated with temporary payments, but elimination of the quota...
ERR-82, November 02, 2009
Organic milk production has been one of the fastest growing segments of organic agriculture in the United States in recent years. Despite the growing number of organic dairy operations, the characteristics of organic dairy operations and the relative costs of organic and conventional milk production...
FDS-09G-01, August 05, 2009
The past 5 years have seen large increases in trading of corn, soybean, and wheat futures contracts by nontraditional traders, a trend that coincided with historic price increases for these commodities. These events have raised questions about whether changes in the composition of traders participat...
CWS-09D01, June 25, 2009
Price volatility in 2008 generated interest in underlying cotton cash and futures markets and highlighted the importance of market participants’ expectations about basis changes over time in production, marketing, and hedging decisions. This analysis examines trends in average U.S. cotton basis and ...
EIB-55, June 03, 2009
Consumer demand for organic products has widened over the last decade. While new producers have emerged to help meet demand, market participants report that a supply squeeze is constraining growth for both individual firms and the organic sector overall. Partly in response to shortages in organic su...
FTS-337-01, June 03, 2009
Specialized fruit and tree nut farms represent a substantial segment of the U.S. fruit and tree nut industry. By nature of the commodities produced and the markets targeted, these specialized farms require substantial investments in production inputs. Using data from USDA’s Agricultural Resource and...
EIB-53, May 15, 2009
USDA defines beginning farmers and ranchers as those who have operated a farm or ranch for 10 years or less either as a sole operator or with others who have operated a farm or ranch for 10 years or less. Beginning farmers tend to be younger than established farmers and to operate smaller farms or r...
ERR-72, April 07, 2009
Interest in revenue-based commodity support is evident in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill), which gives eligible producers the option of participating in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program in return for reductions and eliminations of payments under mor...
EIB-48, April 01, 2009
This book contains a sampling of recent ERS research illustrating the breadth of the Agency's research on current policy issues: from biofuels to food consumption to land conservation to patterns of trade for agricultural products.
FDS-09D-01, April 01, 2009
The byproducts of making ethanol, sweeteners, syrups, and oils used to be considered less valuable than the primary products. But the increased livestock-feed market for such byproducts in the past few years has switched that perception to one of the ethanol industry making grain-based “co-products”...
EIB-45, March 31, 2009
Over the years, proposals have recommended shifting the focus of public agricultural research from applied to basic research, and giving higher priority to peer-reviewed, competitively funded grants. The public agricultural research system in the United States is a Federal-State partnership, with mo...
WRS--09-02, March 30, 2009
The world economic crisis that began in 2008 has major consequences for U.S. agriculture. The weakening of global demand because of emerging recessions and declining economic growth result in reduced export demand and lower agricultural commodity prices, compared with those in 2008. These, in turn, ...
WHS-09C01, March 24, 2009
The recent historic rise in farm input costs and wheat prices has had economic effects on the U.S. wheat sector. A cumulative distribution of forecasted production costs for wheat farms shows that current high (but falling) wheat prices will allow a greater share of producers to cover their producti...
EIB-49, March 20, 2009
Meeting agricultural policy and statistical goals requires a definition of U.S. agriculture’s basic unit, the farm. However, these goals can be at odds with one another. USDA defines “farm” very broadly to comprehensively measure agricultural activity. Consequently, most establishments classified as...
OCE-2009-1, February 12, 2009
This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2018. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.
TB-1924, February 12, 2009
The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) develops and publishes estimates and forecasts of three primary measures of income and returns for the U.S. farm economy: (1) net value added, or total value of the farm sector’s production of goods and services less purchase...
EIB-43, January 23, 2009
U.S. livestock production has shifted to much larger and more specialized farms, and the various stages of input provision, farm production, and processing are now much more tightly coordinated through formal contracts and shared ownership of assets. Important financial advantages have driven these ...
AP-031, January 02, 2009
Among the many responsibilities of USDA are implementing the Food Stamp Program and other food and nutrition assistance programs; managing Federal forest land; implementing standards of humane care and treatment of animals; providing incentives for adopting wildlife habitat enhancements and other co...
EIB-42, December 30, 2008
Million-dollar farms—those with annual sales of at least $1 million—accounted for about half of U.S. farm sales in 2002, up from a fourth in 1982 (with sales measured in constant 2002 dollars). By 2006, million-dollar farms, accounting for 2 percent of all U.S. farms, dominated U.S. production of hi...
VGS-328-01, September 09, 2008
Vegetable and melon production requires a substantial investment in production inputs. Using data from USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), this article presents and explores the major expense components of specialized U.S. and regional vegetable and melon farms during 1998-2006. T...
WRS-0801, July 23, 2008
World market prices for major food commodities such as grains and vegetable oils have risen sharply to historic highs of more than 60 percent above levels just 2 years ago. Many factors have contributed to the runup in food commodity prices. Some factors reflect trends of slower growth in production...
EIB-38, June 30, 2008
Broiler production in the United States is coordinated almost entirely through systems of production contracts, in which a grower’s compensation is based, in part, on how the grower’s performance compares with that of other growers. The industry is undergoing a gradual structural change as productio...
EIB-35, April 01, 2008
More than half of all transactions for U.S. agricultural products are still conducted through spot market exchanges, in which commodities are bought and sold in open market transactions for immediate delivery. But a growing share of U.S. farm production is produced and sold under agricultural contra...
TB-1918, February 11, 2008
The objective of this research is to extend and generalize the equilibrium displacement methodology by combining it with mathematical programming methods and existing knowledge of farm sector relationships to develop sectoral adjustment models that can operate in pure competition, monopoly/monopsony...
AP-022, January 23, 2008
The Farm Security Act of 2002, which governs Federal farm programs for 2002-07, was signed into law on May 13, 2002. This publication presents an overview of the Act and a side-by-side comparison of 1996-2001 farm legislation and the 2002 Act. For selected programs, information is provided to additi...
SB-974, January 07, 2008
These reports examine how production costs vary among producers of different commodities. These reports include details on production practices and input use levels (i.e., the 'technology set'), as well as farm operator and structural characteristics that underlie the cost and return estimates. The ...
ERR-53, December 31, 2007
Farm-based recreation provides an important niche market for farmers, but limited empirical information is available on the topic. Access to two USDA databases, the 2004 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and the 2000 National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, provided researcher...
EIB-32, December 27, 2007
Hog production in 2004 was characterized by wide variation in the types, sizes, and economic performance of operations. Operations specializing in a single production phase generated more than three times the product value, on average, of those using the traditional farrow-to-finish approach. Low-co...
ERR-52, December 27, 2007
The increasing size and specialization of hog operations reflect structural change in U.S. swine production during the past 15 years. The number of farms with hogs has declined by over 70 percent, as hog enterprises have grown larger. Large operations that specialize in a single phase of production ...
EB-10, September 04, 2007
Over the last several decades, the U.S. agricultural sector has sustained impressive productivity growth. The Nation's agricultural research system, including Federal-State public research as well as private-sector research, has been a key driver of this growth. Economic analysis finds strong and co...
EIB-27, September 04, 2007
The current $2.5-million income cap on eligibility for farm program payments affects only a small number of farm program payment recipients each year. A reduction in the cap to $200,000 would affect a larger number of farm households but still only a small share of recipients. Based on IRS tax data ...
ERR-47, September 04, 2007
U.S. dairy production is consolidating into fewer but larger farms. This report uses data from several USDA surveys to detail that consolidation and to analyze the financial drivers of consolidation. Specifically, larger farms realize lower production costs. Although small dairy farms realize higher...
EIB-24, June 01, 2007
U.S. farms are diverse, ranging from small retirement and residential farms to enterprises with annual sales in the millions. Nevertheless, most U.S. farms—98 percent in 2004—are family farms. Even the largest farms tend to be family farms. Large-scale family farms and nonfamily farms account for 10...
CWS-07B01, March 30, 2007
U.S. cotton growers, like producers of other agricultural commodities in recent years, have confronted pressures from market forces and the impacts of policy developments, both domestic and international. Most notably, the ending of the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA) sent a ripple effect throughout th...
FDS-07C01, March 30, 2007
The U.S. feed grain sector, largest of the major U.S. field crops, faces unprecedented demand conditions. The size and speed of the expanding use of corn by the ethanol industry is raising widespread issues throughout U.S. agriculture. Debate is ongoing over the use of grain for fuel instead of for ...
LDPM-146-01, September 08, 2006
Uncertainty continues to shape the forecasts for animal products markets in 2006. Potential and actual animal disease outbreaks, consumer sensitivities, volatile exchange rates, and growing competition from producers in other countries cloud U.S. trade prospects for major meats. Loss of U.S. trade m...
ERR-25, August 31, 2006
This report examines evidence on the relationship between agricultural land-use changes, soil productivity, and indicators of environmental sensitivity. If cropland that shifts in and out of production is less productive and more environmentally sensitive than other cropland, policy-induced changes ...
TBS-26001, August 04, 2006
This study focuses on factors that led to changes in the estimated residual returns to management and risk from tobacco production in 2003-04. Residual returns per acre for flue-cured tobacco declined less than those for burley tobacco in 2004 because yield increases for flue-cured tobacco helped to...
LDPM-14501, July 24, 2006
Over time, shifts in consumer demands, in the location and structure of milk production, in industry concentration, in international markets, and in trade agreements have dramatically altered the U.S. dairy industry and changed the context for dairy policies and the sector as a whole. In the future,...
EIB-16, July 21, 2006
These chapters describe trends in resources used in and affected by agricultural production, as well as the economic conditions and policies that influence agricultural resource use and its environmental impacts. Each of the 28 chapters provides a concise overview of a specific topic with links to s...
ERR-21, June 30, 2006
The rate at which U.S. farms go out of business, or exit farming, is about 9 or 10 percent per year, comparable to exit rates for nonfarm small businesses in the United States. U.S. farms have not disappeared because the rate of entry into farming is nearly as high as the exit rate. The relatively s...
EIB-12, May 15, 2006
Most farms in the United States—98 percent in 2003—are family farms. They are organized as proprietorships, partnerships, or family corporations. Even the largest farms tend to be family farms. Very large family farms account for a small share of farms but a large—and growing—share of farm sales. Sm...
EIB-13, May 15, 2006
American farms vary widely in size and other characteristics, but farming is still an industry of family businesses. Ninety-eight percent of farms are family farms, and they account for 86 percent of farm production. Very small farms are growing in number, and small family farms continue to own most...
EB-1, March 14, 2006
A multitude of design decisions influence the performance of voluntary conservation programs. This Economic Brief is one of a set of five exploring the implications of decisions policymakers and program managers must make about who is eligible to receive payments, how much can be received, for what ...
EB-6, March 14, 2006
Crop production is shifting to much larger farms. Since government commodity payments reflect production volumes for program commodities, payments are also shifting to larger farms. In turn, the operators of very large farms have substantially higher household incomes than other farm households, and...
EIB-9, January 04, 2006
Marketing and production contracts covered 39 percent of the value of U.S. agricultural production in 2003, up from 36 percent in 2001 and a substantial increase over estimated values of 28 percent for 1991 and 11 percent in 1969. Large farms are far more likely to contract than small farms; in fact...
ERR-12, September 19, 2005
The 2002 Farm Act provided farmland owners the opportunity to update commodity program base acres and payment yields used for calculating selected program benefits. Findings in this report suggest that farmland owners responded to economic incentives in these decisions, selecting those options for d...
LDPM-13501, September 16, 2005
This study focuses on fed cattle markets to compare the mandatory price reporting system developed by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service in 2001 with the previous voluntary reporting system. The study also evaluates whether the mandatory system has improved the amount and quality of information a...
EIB-2, May 24, 2005
Crop genetic resources are the basis of agricultural production. However, crop genetic resources are largely public goods, so private incentives for genetic resource conservation may fall short of achieving public objectives. Within the U.S. germplasm system, certain crop collections lack sufficient...
AIB-797, March 09, 2005
This report presents comprehensive information on family and nonfamily farms and important trends in farming, operator household income, farm performance, and contracting. Most farms are family farms. Even the largest farms tend to be family farms. Small family farms account for most of the farms in...
AER-840, February 01, 2005
This report examines global food trade patterns and the role of WTO market access rules in shaping the composition of global food trade.
AER-838, October 29, 2004
This report analyzes the U.S. experience with decoupled payments in the Production Flexibility Contracts program from 1996 to 2002. The studies in this report consider the effects of decoupled payments on recipient households, and assess land, labor, risk management, and capital market conditions th...
AIB-793, September 30, 2004
Rural America At A Glance, 2004 is a six-page brochure that highlights the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas for use in developing policies and programs to assist rural areas. The brochure is the third in a series of reports that uses current social and economic...
TB-1906, November 03, 2003
This study estimates the size and distribution of benefits from adopting Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton, herbicide-tolerant cotton, and herbicide-tolerant soybeans in 1997. The stakeholders considered are U.S. farmers, U.S. consumers, biotechnology developers, germplasm suppliers, and producers ...
AH-722, February 28, 2003
This report identifies trends in land, water, and biological resources and commercial input use, reports on the condition of natural resources used in the agricultural sector, and describes and assesses public policies that affect conservation and environmental quality in agriculture. Combining data...
AIB-778, November 14, 2002
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (2002 Farm Act), which governs agricultural programs through 2007, was signed into law in May 2002. This report presents an initial evaluation of the new legislation's effects on agricultural commodity markets, based on sectorwide model simulations ...
AER-812, July 01, 2002
Agricultural policy is rooted in the 1930's notion that providing transfers of money to the farm sector translates into increased economic well-being of farm families. This report shows that neither change in income for the farm sector nor for any particular group of farm business can be presumed to...
AER-805, November 06, 2001
This report provides original estimates of private sector agricultural research and development efforts in Asia during the 1990s. The report examines seven Asia countries (India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and China). The examination provides an assessment of the trend...
AIB-768, May 25, 2001
Family farms vary widely in size and other characteristics, ranging from very small retirement and residential farms to establishments with sales in the millions of dollars. The farm typology developed by the Economic Research Service (ERS) categorizes farms into groups based primarily on occupation...
AIB-762, March 19, 2001
This report analyzes the economic aspects of several key areas--agricultural research policy, industry structure, production and marketing, consumer issues, and future world food demand--where agricultural biotechnology is dramatically affecting the public policy agenda.
AER-790, November 28, 2000
An average of 875,000 persons 15 years of age and older did hired farmwork each week as their primary job in 1998. An additional 63,000 people did hired farmwork each week as their secondary job. Hired farmworkers were more likely than the typical U.S. wage and salary worker to be male, Hispanic, yo...
AER-789, November 03, 2000
Public health policies intended to reduce the incidence of smoking-related disease adversely affect thousands of tobacco farmers, manufacturers, and other businesses that produce, distribute, and sell tobacco products. This report assesses the likely impacts of declining tobacco demand, and identifi...
AER-788, October 02, 2000
Discussions in the public arena have raised fundamental questions about the ultimate goals of farm policy and the need for establishing a safety net for farm households. This report examines four scenarios for government assistance to agriculture based on the concept of ensuring some minimum standar...
TB-1888, September 21, 2000
The 1996 Farm Act gives farmers almost complete planting flexibility, allowing producers to respond to price changes to a greater extent than they had under previous legislation. This study measures supply responsiveness for major field crops to changes in their own prices and in prices for competin...
AIB-760, August 01, 2000
ERS recently constructed a new set of regions depicting geographic specialization in production of U.S. farm commodities. ERS will use the new regions to display results of its analyses in a broad array of venues from briefings to publications, our web site, and journal articles. This pamphlet intro...
AH-719, July 01, 2000
About 34 percent of U.S. farms in 1997 used hired labor, and 12 percent used contract labor. Hired labor costs averaged 12 percent of total farm production expenses in 1997, but amounted to as much as 44 percent of production expenses for horticultural specialty crop producers, 40 percent for fruit ...
AIB-746, December 01, 1998
National average statistics related to farm production mask the diversity in the Nation's 2 million farms and the people who operate them. Farms in the United States differ not only by size (sales and acres) and type of production, but also by organizational characteristics (land ownership, legal or...
AER-764, July 31, 1998
Under the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, most farmers will pay less Federal income tax, and farm families will find it easier to transfer the family farm across generations. The new law--the tax portion of 1997 legislation to balance the Federal budget by 2002--emerges from years of debate on proposal...
AER-754, July 01, 1997
This report examines geographic changes in U.S. livestock production during 1969-92 from the standpoint of industry concentration and structure. Farm numbers declined 30 percent from 1969 to 1992, but hog and dairy operations were down 70 percent, farms producing eggs dropped 85 percent, and broiler...
AH-712, July 01, 1997
This report identifies trends in land, water, and commercial input use, reports on the condition of natural resources used in the agricultural sector, and describes and assesses public policies that affect conservation and environmental quality in agriculture. Combining data and information, this re...
AER-751, June 01, 1997
U.S. Gross Farm Income reached record-high levels in 1991-94, but expenses also increased, leaving commercial farm operators with net farm income that was, on average, relatively stable. Commercial farms were more profitable in 1994 than 1993.
AIB-733, April 01, 1997
Small U.S. farms and those run by socially disadvantaged minority operators tend not to purchase insurance or to participate in insurance-type programs operated by USDA. This report traces the lack of use of such risk management measures to several characteristics of such farmers, who include female...
AER-745, December 03, 1996
The costs of cleaning barley beyond the current level of cleanliness would outweigh the potential benefits. There is little commercial interest in the cleaning of barley moving into domestic malting and feed barley markets. The export market demand is primarily for feed barley.
AER-744, November 29, 1996
Property rights arise out of law, custom, and the operation of private markets, with important implications for how land and other natural resources are used and conserved. Over the past several years, debate about the nature and scope of property rights has combined with budget concerns and reautho...
AER-735, May 01, 1996
Empirical studies indicate high economic returns from the public's investment in agricultural research. Yet, even as society is placing broader demands on the research system, taxpayer support for public agricultural research is unlikely to increase. Stronger ownership rights for intellectual proper...
AH-705, December 01, 1994
This report identifies trends in land, water, and commercial input use, reports on the condition of natural resources used in the agricultural sector, and describes and assesses public policies that affect conservation and environmental quality in agriculture. Combining data and information, this re...

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