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87 publications, sorted by date 

AES-93, June 15, 2016
Brazil’s corn exports are now concentrated in months traditionally dominated by Northern Hemisphere exporters, particularly the United States. Greater competition from Brazil could alter the seasonal pattern of U.S. corn exports and prices.
Amber Waves, March 16, 2016
U.S. agriculture is growing more concentrated as markets have fewer purchases, low trading volume, and low liquidity. This raises concerns about equity for producers and efficiency in market performance.
EIB-148, March 16, 2016
As U.S. agriculture becomes increasingly concentrated and markets become thinner (smaller number of ag product purchasers), increased producer-processor coordination could provide substantial efficiency gains despite some challenges.
ERR-205, March 09, 2016
Dairy farmers faced a severe financial setback in 2009 as milk prices fell sharply and feed prices remained high, while the industry has undergone structural change. Recent legislation addresses the volatility in milk and feed prices.
Amber Waves, March 07, 2016
Data from USDA’s 2007 and 2012 Agricultural Censuses show that farmers who market food directly to consumers have a greater chance of remaining in business than similarly sized farms who market through traditional channels. While farmers who directly market to consumers are more likely to continue f...
EIB-146, December 08, 2015
Most U.S. farms (99 percent) are family operations. Small family farms make up 90 percent of the U.S. farm count but produce 22 percent of farm output. Midsize and large-scale farms (9 percent of farms) produce 68 percent of farm output.
Amber Waves, November 24, 2015
Antibiotics are used widely in livestock production for control, prevention, and treatment of disease, and for “production purposes” such as growth promotion. The most recent estimates suggest that approximately 40 percent of finishing hogs in 2009 and up to about half of broilers in 2011 received a...
Amber Waves, September 08, 2015
Since 1948, U.S. agricultural productivity has more than doubled, enabling farmers to feed more people with less land and labor. Output growth is attributed to the growth in total inputs used and in technology advancement, or total factor productivity (TFP). Agricultural output growth today is more ...
ERR-189, July 27, 2015
With little growth in aggregate input use over the last six decades, the extraordinary performance of the U.S. farm sector was driven mainly by productivity growth, at an average annual rate of 1.42 percent. Is the growth sustainable?
ERR-188, July 27, 2015
Organic corn, soybean, and wheat production has higher total economic costs and lower yields than conventional production. However, price premiums paid to organic producers are an important factor offsetting the higher costs.
Amber Waves, June 01, 2015
As agriculture adapts to climate change, crop genetic resources can be used to develop new plant varieties that are more tolerant of changing environmental conditions. The public sector plays an important role in collecting, conserving and distributing crop genetic resources, because private sector ...
Amber Waves, May 04, 2015
Widespread use of the glyphosate on major crops, particularly soybeans, has contributed to the evolution of weed resistance to this herbicide. Managing glyphosate resistance (by using other herbicides) is more cost-effective than ignoring resistance, and returns are greater when neighboring farmers...
AP-068, January 29, 2015
ERS details current economic information on local food producers, consumers, and policies, based on findings from several national surveys and a synthesis of recent literature.
EIB-133, December 22, 2014
Farming is still an industry of family businesses. Ninety-seven percent of farms are family farms, and they account for 85 percent of farm production. Small farms make up 90 percent of the farm count and operate half of the Nation's farmland. Most farm production, however, occurs on midsize and larg...
EIB-132, December 22, 2014
Most U.S. farms—97 percent in 2011—are family operations. Small family farms make up 90 percent of the count, though midsize and large-scale family farms produce 60 percent of value of production, per ERS’s latest Family Farm Report.
EIB-128, September 17, 2014
In 2010, the average operating and ownership costs per bushel varied between low- and high-cost corn producers but not among producers with different enterprise sizes. Organic production returns exceeded those for conventional production.
Amber Waves, August 04, 2014
Contract broiler growers earn average household incomes that substantially exceed those of all farm and all U.S. households. Contract growers’ incomes cover a wider range than the incomes of all farm and all U.S. households. The range of income reflects, in part, the risks of contract production; wh...
EIB-126, June 19, 2014
The broiler industry relies greatly on production contracts, with payment based on performance relative to other producers. Productivity improvements reflect developments in genetics, feed formulations, and housing technologies.
Amber Waves, June 02, 2014
The Agricultural Act of 2014 continues the trend of assisting beginning farmers, and includes increased funding for beginning farmer development. Read about it in the June issue of Amber Waves magazine.
EIB-123, April 29, 2014
Small acreage does not necessarily translate into low farm sales. About 17 percent (50,000) of farms with 10 or fewer acres had gross sales of at least $10,000 in 2007, and approximately 6,000 had sales of more than $250,000 that year.
EIB-122, April 08, 2014
While farm business debt use varies widely, large farms, farms with younger operators, and dairy and poultry farms have the highest levels of debt use.
Amber Waves, March 04, 2014
Family farms represent 97.6 percent of all U.S. farms, and are responsible for 85 percent of U.S. farm production.
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
With most hogs now grown on very large operations and with productivity-enhancing technologies widespread, the slowdown in hog farm productivity growth after 2004 suggests that the era of dramatic productivity gains may be over.
Amber Waves, September 03, 2013
Over the past 3 decades, U.S. crop production has been shifting to larger farms for most crops and in most States. But family farms still dominate U.S. crop production, accounting for 87 percent of the value of U.S. crop production in 2011.
ERR-152, August 05, 2013
Crop production and land have shifted to larger operations. ERS details the changes by region and commodity sector, and evaluates driving factors such as technologies, business organization and finances, land attributes, and policy.
EIB-111, April 29, 2013
The number of women farm operators has tripled in the last three decades. From 1982 to 2007, the number of female-operated farms increased by184,000, while male-operated farms declined by 220,800.
EIB-110, April 04, 2013
ERS updated the farm typology to reflect commodity price inflation and a shift in production toward larger farms. The revised typology (now measuring by gross cash farm income) slightly increases the share of farms classified as small.
EIB-107, February 04, 2013
Key elements of proposed tax reform, reducing accelerated deductions for capital purchases and raising capital gains tax rates, could increase tax liabilities for many farmers. Other elements could reduce tax liabilities.
EB-22, January 30, 2013
In 2011, beginning farms and ranches accounted for 22 percent of the 2 million U.S. family farms and 10 percent of the value of agricultural production by family farms. How do beginning farmers and ranchers compare to established ones?
EIB-104, December 20, 2012
Fewer U.S. farms produced cotton in 2007 than in 1997. The average farm was larger, and the share of production had shifted to the Southwest. Cotton farms varied – e.g., in production practices and commodity diversification.
EIB-101, October 31, 2012
Nearly a third of U.S. farm households generate income by engaging in business ventures independent of commodity production, creating $26.7 billion in household income in 2007, from both on- and off-farm enterprises.
EIB-98, August 22, 2012
The 2012 edition provides resource-and environment-related information including farmland area, productivity, irrigation, pesticide use, adoption of genetically engineered crops, fertilizer use, conservation practices, and land retirement.
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
A long-term shift in production toward larger farms has affected the distribution of commodity-related Federal program payments and Federal crop insurance, with the share of payments going to larger farms increasing.
ERR-130, December 30, 2011
ERS quantifies investment trends by for-profit companies in food manufacturing, biofuels, and agricultural input R&D and explores how the trends are affected by changes in industry structure.
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-88, December 02, 2011
Using survey and census data, ERS examines how changes in farm input use, business arrangements, structure, and production practices since the 1980s combined to expand output without increasing the total use of inputs.
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
ERS explores farmers’ use of both direct-to-consumer marketing (such as farmers markets) and intermediated channels (such as grocers and restaurants) to sell food to consumers in their local areas.
EIB-77, May 26, 2011
ERS analyzes tobacco producers’ adjustments in production, investment, labor requirements, and contracting practices following elimination of tobacco quotas and tobacco price supports.
EIB-73, March 28, 2011
The beef cow-calf industry is characterized by large numbers of small farms, although large farms account for most of the production. Operators of beef cow-calf farms have varying goals for their cattle enterprises.
EIB-72, February 14, 2011
ERS examines the effects of current Federal tax provisions regarding low- and moderate-income households in rural America, focusing on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).
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-67, July 26, 2010
ERS provides comprehensive information including number and size of U.S. farms, characteristics of operators, finances of farm businesses and households, and geographic distribution of farms.
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...
ERR-97, May 17, 2010
A series of coordinated case studies compares the structure, size, and performance of local food supply chains with those of mainstream supply chains in delivering locally produced food to consumers.
EIB-63, February 18, 2010
ERS documents the changing distribution and character of small farms as ag production becomes more concentrated. Commercially oriented small farms, those accounting for most small-farm production, continue to decline in number in the face of large-farm competition.
ERR-82, November 02, 2009
ERS addresses size, regional differences, and pasture use in organic milk production. Economic forces have pressured organic dairies to operate more like their conventional counterparts and take advantage of economies of size.
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
ERS details the nature, causes, and effects of structural changes in U.S. livestock production as it shifts to larger, more specialized, and more tightly integrated enterprises.
EIB-42, December 30, 2008
ERS documents the growing importance of very large farms in agricultural production. While a large majority of U.S. farms are small, those with annual sales above $1 million account for roughly half of agricultural sales.
EIB-38, June 30, 2008
ERS describes the boiler industry’s organization, use of production contracts, animal housing features, enterprise cost structures, and farm household finances.
EIB-35, April 01, 2008
Over half of all transactions for U.S. farm products involved commodities bought and sold in open markets. But formal contractual arrangements cover a growing share of production.
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-52, December 27, 2007
ERS examines the economic factors that underlie the dramatic decline in number of hog operations over the past 15 years and the increasing concentration of production on large, specialized hog farms.
EIB-32, December 27, 2007
Once dominated by small, owner-operated crop-hog farms, hog ownership is increasingly concentrated. Traditional farrow-to-finish operations are being replaced by operations specializing in a single production phase.
ERR-51, November 27, 2007
ERS compared consumption of refined and whole grains with recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, considering the consumers’ social, economic, and demographic characteristics.
ERR-47, September 04, 2007
ERS examines economic factors in the dramatic decline in the number of dairy farms over the past 15 years and the increasing concentration in the industry.
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...
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
Specialty grains coming onto the market (e.g., fiber-enriched wheat) are requiring adjustments in the marketing system, including information documentation and management, in order to preserve their added value or prevent accidental commingling with standard grains.
ERR-36, February 01, 2007
ERS examines the relationship between off-farm work, farmers’ technology choices, and the economic performance of farms and farm households.
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-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-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-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. ERS looked at consumption and price trends, competition from Mexico and Canada, and the rising industry’s effect on the entire fresh field tomato sector.
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
Demand for specific product attributes is making contracts the choice over traditional spot markets for many livestock commodities and some major crops—e.g., sugar beets, fruit, tomatoes.
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-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.
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...
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.
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-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...
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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