Farm finances: ARMS data provide the foundation for official USDA estimates of the income, assets, and debt of the farm sector, farm businesses, and farm households. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), in turn, includes estimates of net farm income in its annual estimates of gross domestic product and personal income and in the development of State and local area personal income estimates.
Cost of production: ARMS data are used to fulfill a congressional mandate to report cost-of-production estimates for corn, wheat, cotton, grain sorghum, barley, oats, and dairy. ARMS data are also used to report cost-of-production estimates for other commodities that compete for agricultural resources, including rice, peanuts, soybeans, hogs, and cow-calf.
Agricultural productivity: ARMS price and expenditure data are incorporated into USDA estimates of agricultural productivity.
Chemical use: to meet the requirements of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 and the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, ARMS collects data on field crop chemical use.
Staff analysis: ARMS data are used to respond to informational requests from non-profit groups and government stakeholders such as other USDA agencies, Congress, and the White House. Examples of such requests include:
Calculating farm energy cost-to-output ratios
Highlighting the distribution of farm income, household income, and potential problems servicing debt
Explaining the distribution of farm program payments, and
Identifying the characteristics of producers purchasing crop insurance.
Program administration: ARMS data aid the administration of government programs.
ARMS data provide the basis for weights to calculate the Prices Paid by Farmers Index, used to calculate parity prices required by the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act. Parity prices help regulate some 45 fruit, vegetable, and nut Federal marketing orders.
The Agricultural Marketing Service uses ARMS data to derive estimates of the cost of milk production.
The Risk Management Agency uses tabulations of ARMS to understand what risk management tools are most commonly used by farmers.
The Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Services have used ARMS data to plan its programs regarding pest management strategies.
Publications/research: ERS uses ARMS data for research and publications on variety of topics, including farm management, technology adoption, resource use, and farm household well-being. See the next section for examples.
Selected Recent ERS Publications Using ARMS
America's Diverse Family Farms: 2015 Edition(EIB-146, December 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.
Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, 2014 Edition(EIB-132, December 2014) To provide information on how U.S. farming is organized, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) produces a periodic report documenting the role of family farms in U.S. agricultural production. The Family Farm Report, 2014 Edition is the most recent in the series, providing accurate, detailed, and unbiased information on the structure and finances of U.S. farms, including the relationship of farm size and type to agricultural production, financial performance, sources of farm household income, and the extent of off-farm work. The report provides a sense of the financial position of family farms in general and of different types of family farms.
The Off-Farm Occupations of U.S. Farm Operators and Their Spouses(EIB-117, September 2013) Most farm households earn all of their income from nonfarm sources and even those operating larger farms often have substantial nonfarm income. This study finds that when farm operators and their spouses work off-farm, they are most likely to hold a management or professional occupation.
Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming(ERR-152, August 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 organization and business relationships, land attributes, and government policies.
Agriculture's Supply and Demand for Energy and Energy Products(EIB-112, May 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.
Potential Farm-Level Effects of Eliminating Direct Payments(EIB-103, November 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.
Nitrogen Management on U.S. Corn Acres, 2001-10(EB-20, November 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. Improved nitrogen management on cropland has been a longstanding goal of USDA conservation policy.
Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2012(EIB-98, August 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.
The Future of Environmental Compliance Incentives in U.S. Agriculture(EIB-94, March 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 (swampbuster) provisions, known collectively as environmental compliance requirements.
Trends in U.S. Farmland Values and Ownership(EIB-92, February 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 quality, government payments, proximity to urban areas) factors that affect farmland values.
ARMS Uses Slide Show James MacDonald of ERS explains financial reports, policy relevant reports, and custom reports and how the ARMS data support them.
Farmland Ownership and Tenure Highlights To learn more about the rented land and who owns it, the 2014 Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) survey was conducted as a special study through the Census of Agriculture program to collect data from landowners and landlords of agricultural land in coordination with ARMS.
2013 Rice Highlights In 2013, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and ERS conducted the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) of the U.S. rice industry. During the Fall of 2013 and the Winter of 2014, trained enumerators conducted personal interviews with more than 1,000 rice growers in the 10 largest rice producing states. This publication includes highlights of their production practices, resource use, and finances in 2013. Earlier ARMS rice surveys covered outcomes during 2000 and 2006, and this publication compares recent results to those from earlier years.
2013 Peanut Highlights During the Fall of 2013 and the Winter of 2014, trained enumerators conducted personal interviews with more than 900 peanut growers in the largest peanut producing states. This publication includes highlights of their production practices, resource use, and finances in 2013. Earlier ARMS peanut surveys covered outcomes from 2004, and this publication compares recent results to those from earlier years.
2012 Soybean Highlights During the summer and fall of 2012 and winter of 2013, trained enumerators conducted personal interviews with almost 2,500 soybean growers in the 19 largest soybean-producing States. The farmers provided information about their production practices, operating costs, and soybean production. This publication, one of the first that uses the new soybean data, includes highlights of production practices and resource use. You can also download a PDF version of the soybean highlights.
2011 Broiler Highlights During the first three months of 2012, trained enumerators conducted personal interviews with more than 2,000 broiler growers in the 17 largest broiler-producing states. The farmers provided information about their operating costs and farm-related income. Broiler producers were also asked about feed, housing, and sales during 2011. The following results are highlights of production practices and resource use. ARMS results indicate that U.S. broiler production is shifting toward larger birds. You can also download a PDF version of the broiler highlights.