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61 publications, sorted by date 

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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...
Amber Waves, December 16, 2013
Research indicates that the expansion of emerging energy industries—such as shale gas, wind power, and ethanol production—during the last decade created jobs in rural economies, but the employment impacts varied widely based on the industry.
ERR-159, November 21, 2013
This report builds on findings from recent studies led by U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service researchers investigating the economic effects of the emerging energy industries—unconventional natural gas extraction, wind power development, and corn-based ethanol production—in rur...
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, 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.
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, 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...
EB-20, November 14, 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, including eutrophication and hypoxia in aquatic ecosystems, visibility-impairing haze, and the loss ...
EIB-99, September 04, 2012
This report relies on findings from several national surveys and current literature to assess water resource use and conservation measures within the U.S. irrigated crop sector. U.S. agriculture accounts for 80-90 percent of the Nation’s consumptive water use (water lost to the environment by evapor...
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-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...
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...
EB-18, February 14, 2012
Markets for farm-based environmental services are designed to allow farmers to sell “credits” for environmental improvements in water quality, carbon sequestration, wetlands restoration, and other areas. These markets use an environmental baseline to help determine whether proposed improvements qual...
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 ...
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...
EIB-81, September 14, 2011
In the past decade, hog production has increasingly become consolidated, with larger operations producing a greater volume of hog manure on smaller areas. With less cropland for spreading the manure, hog farmers may be compensating through more effective manure management. The authors use data from ...
EIB-80, August 24, 2011
The adoption of precision agriculture, which encompasses a suite of farm-level information technologies, can improve the efficiency of input use and reduce environmental harm from the overapplication of inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. Still, the adoption of precision agricultural technolo...
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-120, June 30, 2011
Native grasslands in the U.S. Northern Plains, particularly those located in the Prairie Pothole Region, are excellent breeding habitat for migratory birds. The conversion of grassland to crop production could damage this habitat and affect bird populations. We focus on three questions: How fast are...
AP-054, February 10, 2011
The House Report 111-181 accompanying H.R. 2997, the 2010 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, requested the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Economist, to conduct a study of land-use...
ERR-111, February 07, 2011
Methane digesters—biogas recovery systems that use methane from manure to generate electricity—have not been widely adopted in the United States because costs have exceeded benefits to operators. Burning methane in a digester reduces greenhouse gas emissions from manure management. A policy or progr...
EIB-70, November 02, 2010
Most U.S. farmers prepare their soil for seeding and weed and pest control through tillage—plowing operations that disturb the soil. Tillage practices affect soil carbon, water pollution, and farmers’ energy and pesticide use, and therefore data on tillage can be valuable for understanding the pract...
ERR-98, June 11, 2010
The 2002 and 2008 Farm Acts increased funding for conservation programs that provide financial assistance to farmers to implement conservation practices on working farmland. Along with seeking cost-effective environmental benefits, these programs have a goal of spreading conservation funding equitab...
AP-048, May 07, 2010
The Economic Research Service (ERS) of USDA is accepting proposals for fiscal year 2010 for economic research in three broad areas related to U.S. agricultural participation in proposed greenhouse gas markets. The research should focus on the economics of agricultural activities and practices, inclu...
EIB-62, December 07, 2009
Beginning, limited-resource, and socially disadvantaged farmers make up as much as 40 percent of all U.S. farms. Some Federal conservation programs contain provisions that encourage participation by such “targeted” farmers and the 2008 Farm Act furthered these efforts. This report compares the natur...
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...
EB-14, September 23, 2009
Agricultural Land Tenure and Carbon Offsets examines the potential role that land ownership might play in determining the agricultural sector’s involvement in carbon sequestration programs. By estimating the carbon sequestration potential of agricultural producers who own most of the land they opera...
AP-037, June 25, 2009
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to evaluate the role of animal manure as a source of fertilizer, and its other uses. About 5 percent of all U.S. cropland is currently fertilized with livestock manure, and corn accounts for over half of the a...
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...
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.
EIB-50, March 31, 2009
In recent years, structural changes in the hog sector, including increased farm size and regional shifts in production, have altered manure management practices. Also, changes to the Clean Water Act, State regulations, and increasing local conflicts over air quality issues, including odor, have infl...
AP-034, February 26, 2009
Under the Program of Research on the Economics of Invasive Species Management (PREISM), ERS conducts intramural research and funds extramural research to support the economic basis of decisionmaking concerning invasive species issues, policies, and programs. The report, Program of Research on the Ec...
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...
EB-11, September 19, 2008
Programs and policies to minimize the threat of, or mitigate the damages from, invasive species work best if designed in concert with each other. Whether program emphasis should be on prevention or control depends on the biological characteristics and size of the invasive species population, ecologi...
TB-1922, September 19, 2008
This report describes data and methodologies that the Economic Research Service has used to apply monetary values to changes in soil erosion. Values and methodology are clearly described so that analysts can apply the data to specific soil conservation projects. ERS has used the values to estimate s...
Amber Waves, September 01, 2008
Farmers and other landowners typically under-provide environmental services such as clean air and water, carbon sequestration, and improved wildlife habitat. Markets for environmental services could increase farmer investments in environmental stewardship, thereby expanding the supply of environment...
AP-026, March 10, 2008
Under the Program of Research on the Economics of Invasive Species Management (PREISM), ERS supports and conducts research to improve the economic basis of decisionmaking concerning invasive issues, policies, and programs. Program themes have included international dimensions of invasive species pre...
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...
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...
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 ...
AP-021, July 16, 2007
Under the Program of Research on the Economics of Invasive Species Management (PREISM), ERS supports and conducts research to improve the economic basis of decisionmaking concerning invasive issues, policies, and programs. Program themes have included international dimensions of invasive species pre...
TB-1916, March 30, 2007
The Regional Environment and Agriculture Programming Model (REAP), facilitates scenario—or "what if"—analyses by showing how changes in technology, commodity supply or demand, or farm, resource, environmental, or trade policy could affect a host of performance indicators important to decisionmakers ...
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 ...
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-14, May 31, 2006
This publication presents the results of the latest (2002) inventory of U.S. major land uses, drawing on data from the Census, public land management and conservation agencies, and other sources. The data are synthesized by State to calculate the use of several broad classes and subclasses of agricu...
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-3, 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-4, 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-5, 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 ...
AER-815, April 28, 2005
Investigates the relative importance of preserving different amenities conserved by farmland protection programs. Examines farmland protection program enabling legislation in the 48 contiguous States, and implementation of these programs in five Northeastern States.
TB-1913, March 18, 2005
As part of a broader ERS assessment of the costs of manure management, a regional modeling framework was developed to evaluate the effect of Federal guidelines for farmland application of manure on the costs of hauling and spreading manure. This report presents technical details of the regional mode...
AER-834, October 08, 2004
This report estimates the impact that high levels of enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) have had on economic trends in rural counties since the program’s inception in 1985 until today. The results of a growth model and quasi-experimental control group analysis indicate no discernib...
TB-1909, March 31, 2004
Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases can be reduced by withdrawing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it in soils and biomass. This report analyzes the performance of alternative incentive designs and payment levels if farmers were paid to adopt land uses and management practices ...
AER-824, June 19, 2003
Nutrients from livestock and poultry manure are key sources of water pollution. Ever-growing numbers of animals per farm and per acre have increased the risk of water pollution. New Clean Water Act regulations compel the largest confined animal producers to meet nutrient application standards when a...
AIB-780, April 01, 2003
U.S. farmland managed under organic systems expanded rapidly throughout the 1990s, and that pace has continued as farmers strive to meet consumer demand in both local and national markets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented national organic standards on organic production and proc...
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-765-3, April 26, 2001
This issue brief describes ERS research on international differences in the quality of natural resources and their effects on agricultural productivity and food security.
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-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...
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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