Agency Structure

The Agency's work is structured among four Divisions:

The Food Economics Division conducts economic research on policy issues of importance to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Specific areas of expertise include:

  • Food consumption
  • Food safety
  • Food assistance
  • Household food security
  • Diet and health
  • Structure of the food sector
  • Retail food prices

The Division's analysis of food policy issues ensures that consumers' perspectives are represented in policy discussions. The impact of policy on low-income individuals and households is of particular interest.

The Division is also responsible for conducting studies and evaluations of the Nation's food assistance and nutrition programs. In addition to intramural research, the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program (FANRP) funds a portfolio of extramural research topics designed to meet the critical information needs of program managers, policy officials, the research community, and the public. Information on the competitive grants and cooperative agreements programs can be obtained from the ERS website:

Food Economics Division Staff Work in the Following Specialty Areas:

  • Consumer economics
  • Household behavior/family economics
  • Market structure and pricing
  • Food Assistance program evaluation

The Information Services Division manages and directs agencywide information technology and communication activities.

To support the ERS mission, the Division:

  • Builds and maintains a powerful analytic and communications environment
  • Delivers modern information technologies and resources to the desktops of ERS staff
  • Trains ERS staff to take maximum advantage of those technologies and resources
  • Develops and maintains information and data dissemination systems to deliver the agency's products in an effective, efficient, and timely manner
  • Publishes agency-sponsored research reports and periodicals

The Information Services Division integrates the various electronic and traditional print media used to disseminate ERS's products to its clientele into a streamlined delivery system, including ERS's Internet site. In addition, ERS' internal website provides its staff with electronic access to internal information resources and data systems.

The Market and Trade Economics Division conducts economic research and analysis on U.S. and global economic and policy factors affecting the structure and performance of agricultural markets and trade. The Division monitors market indicators; provides mid- to long-term forecasts of agricultural market conditions; and assesses the technological, economic, policy, and institutional forces that influence U.S. and world agricultural markets. With strong country/regional and commodity market expertise, the research program provides science-based knowledge and analytic expertise for informed public policy and program decisions.

Specific research topics include:

  • Analyzing and managing farm risk
  • Developing conceptual and empirical economic frameworks to analyze the "unfinished business" and "new" issues for agriculture in the World Trade Organization
  • Assessing field crop biotechnology and implications for market structure, pricing, and trade
  • Quantifying economic implications of regional market integration
  • Examining economic implications of industrialization and concentration in agriculture
  • Reassessing global macroeconomic linkages to U.S. agriculture
  • Enhancing capacity for commodity price forecasting and projections

Market and Trade Economics Division staff work in the following specialty areas:

  • Commodity and food markets
  • International economics
  • Market structure and pricing
  • Production economics
  • Comparative economic systems

The Resource and Rural Economics Division conducts research in three areas:

  • The interactions among natural resources, environmental quality, and agricultural production and consumption
  • The economics of agricultural research and development and technological change
  • The structure and financial performance of the agricultural sector and the rural economy

Specific topics include:

  • Conservation and environmental programs
  • Global resources
  • Agricultural research and productivity
  • Technology and sustainability
  • Trade and the environment
  • Production practices and the environment
  • Land use
  • Water use and management
  • Farm structure
  • Farm finance and farm sector performance
  • Demographic change in rural areas
  • Rural labor and credit markets

Resource and Rural Economics Division staff work in the following specialty areas:

  • Credit, finance, and risk
  • Industrial organization
  • Natural resource/environmental economics
  • Production economics/farm management
  • Labor and demographics
  • Rural and regional economics
  • Welfare and poverty economics
  • Research and development/technological change