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67 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, 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, 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...
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.
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...
EIB-111, April 29, 2013
The share of U.S. farms operated by women nearly tripled over the past three decades. Using Census of Agriculture data from 1978 through 2007, this report provides detailed information about women farmers and the types of farms they operate.
EIB-110, April 04, 2013
Nearly 15 years have passed since ERS first released its farm typology; this report updates it to reflect commodity price inflation and the shift of production to larger farms.
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.
EIB-104, December 20, 2012
Most U.S. cotton is produced on very large diversified farm operations, with cotton often constituting a small share of these operations’ total acres.
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...
EIB-98, August 22, 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. These indicators are useful to as...
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.
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...
ERR-130, 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 study examines global R&D spending by private industry in seven agricultural input sectors, food manufacturing, and biofuel ...
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...
Amber Waves, December 01, 2011
Changing production practices, including adoption of labor-saving innovations, have contributed to and been affected by increases in both agricultural productivity and the concentration of production.
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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.
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-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...
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-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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
ERR-51, November 27, 2007
In the last 25 years, U.S. crop farms have steadily declined in number and grown in average size, as production has shifted to larger operations. Larger farms tend to receive more commodity program payments because most payments are tied to a farm’s current or historical production, but whether paym...
EB-9, September 04, 2007
Innovation and changes in technology have been a driving force for gains in productivity growth in U.S. agriculture. USDA's Economic Research Service has developed annual indexes of agricultural inputs, outputs, and total factor productivity (TFP) for 1948 through 2004. American agriculture relies a...
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-26, June 01, 2007
American farms encompass a wide range of sizes, ownership structures, and business types, but most farms are still family farms. Family farms account for 98 percent of farms and 85 percent of production. Although most farms are small and own most of the farmland, production has shifted to very large...
ERR-35, February 28, 2007
U.S. grains were once exclusively handled by commodity markets characterized by standard grades (for example, number 2 yellow corn), a large number of buyers and sellers, and prices that were transparent on commodity exchanges. Increasingly, though, specialty grains (for example, fiber-enriched whea...
ERR-36, February 01, 2007
The economic well-being of most U.S. farm households depends on income from both onfarm and off-farm activities. Consequently, for many farm households, economic decisions (including technology adoption and other production decisions) are likely to be shaped by the allocation of managerial time amon...
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...
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...
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...
EIB-8, December 28, 2005
Rural Hispanics at a Glance provides the latest information from the 2000 Census and other Federal data sources about Hispanics living in nonmetro counties. This six-page brochure highlights growth and geographic dispersion, demographic characteristics, and the most recent indicators of social and e...
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-3, June 01, 2005
The structure of farms, farm households, and the rural communities in which they exist has evolved markedly over the last century. Historical data on a range of farm structure variables—including the value of agricultural production, commodity specialization, farming-dependent counties, and off-farm...
ERR-2, April 01, 2005
The North American greenhouse tomato industry has grown rapidly since the early 1990s and now plays a major role in the fresh tomato industry. However, relatively little is known about this new industry, in part because of the lack of reliable production, trade, and price data. Both analysts and ind...
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-835, November 08, 2004
This study addresses changes in the organization of the U.S. pork industry, most notably marketing contracts between packers and producers, by exploring their function in addressing pork quality concerns. A number of developments brought quality concerns to the forefront. These include health concer...
AER-837, November 01, 2004
Production and marketing contracts govern 36 percent of the value of U.S. agricultural production, up from 12 percent in 1969. Contracts are now the primary method of handling sales of many livestock commodities, including milk, hogs, and broilers, and of major crops such as sugar beets, fruit, and ...
AIB-786, February 01, 2004
Unprecedented growth in crop yields and agricultural total factor productivity over the past 70 years owes much to biological innovation embodied in seeds, beginning with the development of hybrid crops in the United States in the early part of the 20th century, continuing with the Green Revolution ...
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...
AER-810, May 01, 2002
This report uses USDA survey data to examine the extent to which US farmers have adopted bioengineered crops, factors affecting adoption of these crops, and the impacts of bioengineered crops on input use and farm-level net returns.
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-769, May 25, 2001
This report describes a farm typology developed by the Economic Research Service (ERS), which categorizes farms into more homogeneous groups than classifications based on sales volume alone, producing a more effective policy development tool. The typology is used to describe U.S. farm structure.
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...
AIB-748, March 01, 1999
This study provides a comprehensive view of the organization, management, and financial performance of U.S. broiler farms. Using data from USDA's Agricultural Resource Management Study (ARMS, formerly known as the Farm Costs and Returns Survey), we examine farm size, financial structure, household i...
AIB-739, January 26, 1998
Farm operators and their families suffered 72 percent of the 673 work-related farm fatalities in 1992 and a third of the 64,813 nonfatal farming injuries. Hired farmworkers endured 44,383 nonfatal and less than a third of fatal work-related injuries.
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...
AIB-728, January 17, 1997
In 1993, the 2.1 million farms in the contiguous United States operated an average of 436 acres and produced an average of $73,700 in agricultural products, as measured by gross sales. Characteristics of individual farms--including their level of production--varied widely, however. Most production o...
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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