The mission of USDA's Economic Research Service is to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America and to conduct high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.
ERS shapes its research program and products to serve those who routinely make or influence public policy and program decisions. Key clientele include White House and USDA policy officials; the U.S. Congress; program administrators/managers; other Federal agencies; State and local government officials; and organizations, including farm and industry groups. ERS research provides context for and informs the decisions that affect the agricultural sector, which in turn benefits everyone with efficient stewardship of our agricultural resources and the economic prosperity of the sector.
As a federal statistical agency covered by the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Statistical Policy Directives, ERS is responsible for ensuring the quality, objectivity, and transparency of the statistical information it provides. Our policies and procedures for publishing research and data are designed to ensure that we provide high quality and objective analysis.
ERS research and analysis covers a broad range of economic and policy topics:
- Agricultural Economy – farm sector performance and farm households’ well-being; farm size and concentration; market analysis, data, and projections on commodity supply, demand, and prices; and Federal farm policies
- Food and Nutrition – U.S. food security, food and nutrition assistance programs, food choices and health outcomes, food access and store proximity, food retailing and marketing, and food prices
- Food Safety – societal benefits associated with reducing food safety risks, economic impacts of food hazards, and potential results of regulation versus industry decisions
- Global Markets and Trade – major markets and competitors, economic impacts of exports and imports, trade barriers, and potential trade agreements
- Resources and Environment – economic impacts of conservation programs, efficacy of policies designed to protect the environment, and enhancing agricultural competitiveness through technology
- Rural Economy – investments in rural communities and drivers of rural economic performance, demographic change and its impact on rural communities
ERS digitally publishes its research and analysis in economic research reports, articles in our award-winning Amber Waves magazine, data visualizations and data products throughout the year. ERS's suite of data products encompasses estimates, forecasts, and economic and statistical indicators.
In addition, the ERS commodity outlook program delivers timely, independent, and objective information about agricultural markets and provides projections of U.S. and world agricultural commodity production, consumption, and trade. These outlook reports and data are among the most widely accessed ERS products. For all upcoming ERS releases, see our calendar of releases.
Closely watched products include: forecasts of farm business and household income, commodity cost of production, outlook reports covering major crops and livestock products, annual 10-year projections for the farm sector, forecasts of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food, estimates of U.S. and international agricultural productivity, rural county typologies, state fact sheets, annual report on food security of U.S. households, Food Access Research Atlas, Food Environment Atlas, and Cost Estimates of Foodborne Illnesses.
Our team of expert economists also share their findings and conclusions in other ways. Our webinar series, ERS Insights, provides a forum for our experts to interact with the public and provide in-depth information on a research topic. In addition, ERS economists provide oral briefings, written staff analyses, and congressionally mandated studies delivered directly to executive and legislative branch policymakers and program administrators. They also often publish articles in professional journals and present papers to academic colleagues at conferences and meetings.