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Features, Findings, & Statistics

  • Feature

    2014 Farm Act Shifts Crop Commodity Programs Away From Fixed Payments and Expands Program Choices

    The 2014 Farm Act repealed a number of programs, chief among them the fixed annual Direct Payments, and introduced new programs tied to current prices and/or revenues. The new programs increase the potential variability of annual farm program payments and involve complex tradeoffs requiring producers to consider the type and level of coverage that will best protect their operations.
  • Feature

    Managing the Costs of Reducing Agriculture’s Footprint on the Chesapeake Bay

    Runoff from agricultural activity and other nonpoint sources contributes to adverse environmental conditions in the Chesapeake Bay, interfering with fish and shellfish production and compromising recreational opportunities. In order to meet Environmental Protection Agency goals for the Chesapeake Bay, loadings of nutrients and sediments from agricultural activity must be reduced.
  • Feature

    Crop Outlook Reflects Near-Term Prices and Longer Term Market Trends

    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.
  • Finding

    While Crop Rotations Are Common, Cover Crops Remain Rare

    While 82-94 percent of most U.S. crops are grown in some sort of rotation, conservation crop rotations that incorporate cover crops remain rare. Only about 3 to 7 percent of farms use cover crops in rotations, and, since they do not put all of their land into cover crops, only 1 percent of cropland acreage uses cover crops.
  • Feature

    Adaptation Can Help U.S. Crop Producers Confront Climate Change

    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 prices, and farmer returns.
  • Finding

    Characteristics of U.S. Cotton Farms Vary Widely

    In the U.S, cotton is a major field crop that generates significant cash receipts for producers, exceeded only by corn, soybeans, wheat, and greenhouse products. Data from the 2007 cotton version of USDA’s ARMS reveal the extent to which cotton farm operators have different characteristics and use different production practices.
  • Finding

    Bt Corn Adoption by U.S. Farmers Increases Yields and Profits

    Genetically engineered varieties of corn with enhanced pest management traits have been widely adopted by U.S. farmers. Researchers confirm that Bt corn adoption was positively associated with increased variable profits and yields in 2005. More specifically, a 10.0-percent increase in Bt adoption was associated with a 1.7-percent increase in corn yields and a 1.65-percent increase in variable profits.
  • Finding

    Protected-Culture Technology Transforms the Fresh-Tomato Market

    In calendar year 2011, protected culture tomatoes made up 40 percent of U.S. tomato shipments, up from less than 10 percent in 2004; they now dominate the retail industry and are becoming more common in foodservice.
  • Feature

    Long-Term Prospects for Agriculture Reflect Growing Demand for Food, Fiber, and Fuel

    Growing food demand in developing countries, rising biofuel demand, and slowing agricultural productivity gains have put upward pressure on farm-commodity prices over the past decade. According to USDA’s annual baseline projections, these and other factors will continue to influence prospects for U.S. and world agriculture over the next decade.
  • Statistic

    Where Did the Corn Come From To Fuel the Expansion in Ethanol Production?

    Between 2000 and 2009, U.S. ethanol production increased from 1.6 billion gallons to 10.8 billion gallons, almost all of which was produced from corn. Some of the corn came from increased yields and some was diverted from other uses, but much of the corn needed to produce ethanol came from expanding planted acreage.
  • Finding

    Vegetable Production Concentrated on Very Large Farms

    Very large commercial farms (with $1 million or more of agricultural sales per year) accounted for about 8 percent of all U.S. specialized vegetable and melon farms during 2005-07.
  • Statistic

    On the Map: California, Florida, and Washington Are Nation's Largest Fruit-Producing States

    California accounts for about half of U.S. bearing fruit acreage, Florida almost one-fourth, and Washington around one-tenth.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Indicators tables from the September 2010 issue of Amber Waves magazine.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Selected statistics on agriculture and trade, diet and health, natural resources, and rural America.
  • Feature

    Removal of Government Controls Opens Peanut and Tobacco Sectors to Market Forces

    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.
  • Statistic

    In the Long Run: Despite Legislative Changes, Peanut Availability Remains Within Historical Range

    The 2002 Farm Act removed longstanding regulatory quotas on peanuts that limited supplies by issuing annual marketing rights to farmers. Following the policy change, the availability of peanuts grew over the next several years but remained below the historical high of 1989.
  • Finding

    New Traders in Corn, Soybean, and Wheat Futures Markets Scrutinized

    The growing participation of nontraditional traders in futures markets, such as index funds and swap dealers, has coincided with increasing volatility in commodity markets and a weakening of the usual correlation between futures and cash prices. ERS research, however, finds no link between these trends and the growing presence of nontraditional traders.
  • Statistic

    In the Long Run: Growth in Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops Continues in U.S.

    U.S. farmers have rapidly adopted genetically engineered soybeans, cotton, and corn since their commercial introduction in 1996 because of their economic benefits.
  • Feature

    Agricultural Commodity Price Spikes in the 1970s and 1990s: Valuable Lessons for Today

    The rapid increase in crop prices between 2006 and mid-2008, while unprecedented in magnitude, was not unique. Two other periods of major rapid runups in prices occurred in 1971-74 and 1994-96. Each price surge resulted from a combination of factors, including depreciation of the U.S. dollar, strong worldwide demand for agricultural products, supply shocks, and policy responses by major trading countries. In the past, market adjustments eventually brought prices back down. Similarly, the high prices seen in 2008 have dropped to lower levels; however, these adjustments are occurring in a more volatile environment.
  • Feature

    Grain Prices Impact Entire Livestock Production Cycle

    Between 2006 and 2008, feed costs nearly doubled and are expected to result in lower meat and dairy production in 2009. Feed prices have declined since mid-2008 and are expected to be lower in 2009, but the biological timeline of livestock production means meat producers are limited in what they can do in the short run to change production. Changes in U.S. livestock-industry structure and the use of alternative feeds, such as byproducts from ethanol production, will help reduce the impact of higher input costs on livestock producers.
  • Feature

    Growing Crops for Biofuels Has Spillover Effects

    Federal mandates for biofuel production promote expanded crop acreage which can shift cropping patterns and affect livestock production due to higher prices for corn and other grain crops. An increase in the extent and intensity of input use and agricultural land in production increases the potential for environmental degradation. Research on crop productivity and conversion efficiency, as well as conservation practices like no-till and buffer strips, could lessen the environmental impacts of biofuels.
  • Feature

    New Market Realities Affect Crop Program Choices

    Even as farmers enjoy record high commodity prices and income, they face an array of risks, including high production costs and greater price volatility. Rising crop prices mean increased Federal crop insurance program payments but reduce the likelihood commodity program payments based on fixed price targets. The new Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program offers revenue protection but participating farmers must forgo some benefits of traditional commodity programs.
  • Statistic

    Research Areas

    Research area charts from the April 2008 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Indicators tables from the April 2008 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Amber Waves presents the broad scope of ERS's research and analysis. The magazine covers the economics of agriculture, food and nutrition, the food industry, trade, rural America, and farm-related environmental topics.
  • Statistic

    Did You Know?

    Did You Know? page from November 2007 issue of Amber Waves
  • Finding

    NAFTA’s Liberalization of Corn Trade Approaches the Finish Line

    Implementation of NAFTA, signed in 1995 is nearly complete, and all remaining trade barriers among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will be phased out in 2008. One of the few remaining commodities to be liberalized under NAFTA is corn, which has had a 14-year transition period. But the TRQ has become less restrictive over the period, so the final phase-out is not expected to generate much additional impact.
  • Finding

    U.S. Farmers Increase Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops and Favor Multiple Traits - Amber Waves September 2007

    New 2007 USDA data show that adoption by U.S. farmers of genetically engineered (GE) soybeans, cotton, and corn with herbicide tolerance and/or insect resistance (Bt) traits has been rapid over the 12-year period following commercial introduction.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Indicators tables from the September 2007 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Statistic

    Research Areas

    Research area charts from the November 2006 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Indicators tables from the November 2006 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Statistic

    Research Areas

    Research area charts from the September 2006 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Statistic

    Indicators

    Indicators tables from the September 2006 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Statistic

    Research Areas

    Research area charts from the June 2006 issue of Amber Waves.
  • Finding

    U.S. Tobacco Sector Regroups

    The 2005/06 crop year is the first year that tobacco growers have faced without the previous tobacco program. This year has been marked by a 25 percent decline in area and production. But there have also been shifts in geographical distribution and varieties grown. Growers in the Southeast, Pennsylvania, and Maryland are increasing their output of burley at the expense of other varieties.
  • Feature

    U.S. Peanut Sector Adapts to Major Policy Changes

    "U.S. Peanut Sector Adapts to Major Policy Changes" examines the experience of the peanut sector following the 2002 Farm Act's elimination of the marketing quota system, and identifies factors affecting the transition to a more market-oriented system. Although peanut prices and acreage declined following passage of the 2002 Farm Act, it appears that producers are taking advantage of increased planting flexibility to expand production in higher yielding areas, and the transition has been cushioned by rising demand, and additional sources of revenue from government payments and other sources of farm and off-farm income.
  • Finding

    Genetically Engineered Crop Varieties Gain Further Acreage Share in 2004

    GE varieties of soybeans, corn, and cotton have been available commercially since 1996. Since then, their rate of use by U.S. farmers has climbed most years, including 2004.