Features, Findings, & Statistics

  • Statistic

    Pollination Service Fees

    While still a small share of food production costs, pollination service fees are now the largest source of beekeeper revenue
  • Finding

    Hurricane Irma Hits Florida’s Agricultural Sector

    ERS researchers recently analyzed the impact of Hurricane Irma on Florida's fruit and vegetable crops. Findings suggest that citrus crops were the most adversely impacted.
  • Finding

    Study Finds Crop Insurance Has Small Effect on Environmental Quality

    Crop insurance can help protect farmers from large losses resulting from crop failure or unusually large drops in crop prices. Subsidized crop insurance makes crop production less risky and more profitable. Recent ERS research suggests that crop insurance has small effects on environmental quality in the Corn Belt region.
  • Feature

    Conservation Compliance in the Crop Insurance Era

    Conservation Compliance, which links eligibility for farm program benefits to soil and wetland conservation, has significantly reduced soil erosion on highly erodible cropland. The 2014 Farm Act eliminated some benefits subject to Compliance under the 2008 Act (e.g., Direct Payments) but also linked some benefits that were not subject to Compliance (e.g., crop insurance premium subsidies).
  • Finding

    Declines in Pollinator Forage Suitability Were Concentrated in the Midwest, the Over-Summering Grounds for Many Honeybees

    While most agricultural commodities are wind-pollinated, about one-third of total U.S. food consumption either require or benefit from insect pollination. Managed honeybees alone provide over $350 million worth of pollination services each year. Recently, however, the health of pollinators has suffered.
  • Feature

    Farmers Employ Strategies To Reduce Risk of Drought Damages

    Farmers can improve their drought resilience by making different crop choices, enrolling in crop insurance and other farm risk management programs, and investing in soil health. USDA conservation programs—intended primarily to improve on-site and off-site environmental quality—may also help producers adapt to drought risk.
  • Statistic

    Understanding Irrigated Agriculture

    The irrigation of agricultural crops accounts for most of the Nation’s water consumption. To better understand irrigation characteristics, such as acreage and water use, USDA conducts the Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey (FRIS) every 5 years. Most irrigated farms are low-sales operations, but large farms use most of the water.
  • Feature

    Growing Organic Demand Provides High-Value Opportunities for Many Types of Producers

    In 2015, the Organic Trade Association estimated U.S. organic retail sales at $43.3 billion, showing double-digit growth during most years since 2000, when USDA set national organic standards. Since setting national organic standards, USDA has streamlined trade arrangements with multiple foreign governments to expand international markets for U.S. organic producers.
  • Statistic

    Energy Consumption and Production in Agriculture

    A new ERS infographic looks at energy production and consumption in U.S. agriculture.
  • Feature

    Precision Agriculture Technologies and Factors Affecting Their Adoption

    Three common precision agricultural information technologies are global positioning system (GPS) guidance systems, GPS yield and soil monitors/maps, and variable-rate input application technologies (VRT). Research shows these technologies had similar positive, but small, impacts on corn profits of between 1 and 3 percent in 2010.
  • Finding

    Share of Farm Businesses Receiving Lease and Royalty Income From Energy Production Varies Across Regions

    In 2012, 35 percent of active farm and ranch land was in counties overlaying a shale play (shale counties). In 2014, about 6 percent of U.S. farm businesses averaged $56,000 in lease and royalty payments from energy production.
  • Feature

    An Economic Perspective on Soil Health

    Soil health builds upon soil conservation by encouraging farmers to manage soil as a living ecosystem, in addition to reducing soil erosion. Healthy soils can have benefits to society and to farmers. USDA incentivizes farmers to adopt soil health practices through programs such as EQIP and CSP.
  • Finding

    No-Till or Strip-Till Use Varies by Region

    No-till and strip-till are two of many tillage methods farmers use to plant crops. During 2010-11, roughly 56 percent of all U.S. land used for corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat was located on farms that used no-till/strip-till on at least some portion of this cropland.
  • Feature

    Climate Change, Water Scarcity, and Adaptation

    Irrigation is widely viewed as an important adaptation to shifting production conditions under climate change. This analysis projects, however, that irrigated fieldcrop acreage will decline as a result of climate change over the 2020 to 2080 study period. Factors driving the shifting relative profitability of irrigation under climate change vary by region.
  • Finding

    The Cost Effectiveness of Removing Nitrogen by Restoring and Protecting Wetlands Varies Geographically

    The Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic zone stems in part from an excess of nutrients, including nitrogen. An estimated 60-80 percent of the nitrogen delivered to the Gulf of Mexico is from agriculture, despite some farmers’ adoption of on-field nitrogen conservation practices. Nitrogen removal benefits of wetlands and restoration costs vary substantially across the Upper Mississippi/Ohio River watersheds.
  • Finding

    California’s Irrigation Varies by Crop

    Farmers in California grow a wide variety of crops using off-farm surface water, groundwater, and to a limited extent, on-farm surface water. Differences in the source of irrigation water play a major role in how vulnerable different crops are to shortfalls in surface water supplies due to drought. Farmers of different crops also have differing levels of investment in irrigation technologies.
  • Feature

    Managing Glyphosate Resistance May Sustain Its Efficacy and Increase Long-Term Returns to Corn and Soybean Production

    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 also manage resistance.
  • Finding

    Wetlands Benefits and Costs Vary With Location

    Over the past two decades, USDA has spent over $4.2 billion to restore and protect wetlands. While restoring and protecting wetlands comes at a cost, their ecosystems provide a wide array of benefits that can exceed costs.
  • Feature

    Options for Improving Conservation Programs: Insights From Auction Theory and Economic Experiments

    USDA spends over $5 billion per year on conservation activities, mostly through voluntary programs that pay farmers and landowners to provide environmental services. Program design can use available information to reduce Government expenditures and encourage landowners to provide greater environmental services.
  • Statistic

    The Size and Scope of Locally Marketed Food Production

    In 2012, 163,675 farmers sold an estimated $6.1 billion in local foods. "Local foods" includes food for human consumption sold via direct-to-consumer (e.g., farmers’ markets, on-farm stores, farm stands, pick-your-own activities, and other farmer-to-consumer venues) and intermediated marketing channels (sales directly to restaurants, grocers, schools, universities and other institutions).
  • Feature

    With Adequate Productivity Growth, Global Agriculture Is Resilient to Future Population and Economic Growth

    If agricultural productivity growth slows in future years, how will global agricultural output, consumption, land use, and prices adjust? To address this question, ERS researchers recently used the agency’s global agricultural and energy economic model—the Future Agricultural Resources Model (FARM)—to simulate agricultural markets in 2050 under a range of different scenarios.
  • Feature

    Greater Heat Stress From Climate Change Could Lower Dairy Productivity

    In 2010, heat stress is estimated to have lowered annual milk production for the average dairy by about $39,000, totaling $1.2 billion in lost production for the entire U.S. diary sector. Additional heat stress from climate change is expected to lower milk production for the average dairy by 0.60-1.35 percent in 2030 relative to what it would have been in the absence of climate change.
  • Finding

    Economic Responses Offset Potential Climate Change Impacts on Global Agriculture

    Research indicates that a decrease in agricultural productivity due to climate change could be largely mitigated by increasing nonland inputs such as fertilizer and irrigation, increasing cropland area, and expanding international trade.
  • Feature

    Additionality in Agricultural Conservation Programs

    Additionality measures the extent to which conservation program payments actually encourage adoption of practices that farmers would not otherwise adopt. Estimates of additionality are high for some practices, particularly installation of soil conservation structures (e.g., terraces) and buffers (e.g., field-edge filter strips), but not as high for others (e.g., conservation tillage).
  • Statistic

    Agricultural Energy Use and the Proposed Clean Power Plan

    The EPA’s Clean Power Plan aims to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants, the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States, by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. To better understand how the agricultural sector might be affected, its current direct use of electric power, as well as the sector’s direct and indirect use of natural gas—is examined.