Uses and Publications

Table of Contents

Uses of Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) Data

  • Topic pages: The Economic Research Service (ERS) provides current information on U.S. agriculture through topic pages on its website. Pages relying heavily on ARMS data include
  • Data products:
  • Official estimates:
    • 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: 2020 Edition (EIB-220, December 2020)
    his report provides the latest statistics on U.S. farms, including production, financial performance, and farm household characteristics by farm size. Among the findings, 98 percent of U.S. farms are family farms and they accounted for 86 percent of farm production in 2019. Most (90 percent) farms are small (gross cash farm income less than $350,000) and account for 22 percent of production.
  • Farm Use of Futures, Options, and Marketing Contracts (EIB-219, October 2020)
    This study uses data from the 2016 Agricultural Resource Management Survey to describe producers' use of futures, options, and marketing contracts as risk management strategies, with a primary focus on corn and soybeans.
  • Consolidation in U.S. Dairy Farming (ERR-274, July 2020)
    The number of licensed U.S. dairy herds fell by more than half between 2002 and 2019, with an accelerating rate of decline in 2018 and 2019, even as milk production continued to grow. Production has been shifting to much larger but fewer farms, and that shift shows no sign of slowing. Larger operations realize lower costs of production, on average, and those advantages persist.
  • Financial Conditions in the U.S. Agricultural Sector: Historical Comparisons (EIB-211, October 2019)
    This study compares recent aggregate and farm-level measures of financial performance to historic levels to better understand the severity of the current downturn in the agricultural economy and to identify the types of farms that are under the greatest financial stress.
  • An Overview of Beginning Farms and Farmers (EB-29, September 2019)
    Beginning farms (those on which all operators have no more than 10 years of farming experience) operate at a smaller scale, earn less farm income, and have more debt relative to their assets than more established farms. Beginning farm households work more off-farm and have less wealth than established farm households.
  • Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2019 (EIB-208, May 2019)
    Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2019, describes trends in economic, structural, resource, and environmental indicators in the agriculture sector. The indicators covered in this report provide assessments of important changes in U.S. agriculture—industry development; environmental effects; and implications for economic, social, and environmental sustainability.
  • Development, Adoption, and Management of Drought-Tolerant Corn in the United States (EIB-204, January 2019)
    Introduced in 2011, drought-tolerant corn accounted for 22 percent of total U.S. planted corn acreage in 2016. Using data from USDA's Agricultural Resource Management Survey, this report documents trends in its development, adoption, and management, examining the role of drought exposure and moisture conservation practices, as well as genetically engineered seed traits, pricing, and irrigation.
  • Tillage Intensity and Conservation Cropping in the United States (EIB-197, September 2018)
    Reducing tillage and increasing soil cover (through crop rotations and cover crops) can enhance soil health. To gauge the intensity of tillage over time, this report estimates the number of years no-till or strip-till are used over a 4-year period. Conservation tillage was used on 70 percent of soybean (2012), 65 percent of corn (2016), and 67 percent of wheat (2017) acres.
  • Three Decades of Consolidation in U.S. Agriculture (EIB-189, March 2018)
    Crop production has seen a widespread and persistent shift of acreage and sales to larger farming operations over the last three decades. Some livestock sectors have seen dramatic structural change, but consolidation has been modest or nonexistent in pasture/grazing land and in the associated cow-calf sector. Consolidation has been facilitated by increased farm-level commodity specialization.
  • Farmland Values, Land Ownership, and Returns to Farmland, 2000-2016 (ERR-245, February 2018)
    The value of farm real estate accounts for over 80 percent of the value of farm-sector assets and is an important indicator of the sector. This report finds U.S. farmland values appreciated quickly from 2000 to 2015, but have since slowed considerably. Also, farmland appreciation over 2000-2012 led to fewer financially stressed farms.
  • The Evolving Distribution of Payments From Commodity, Conservation, and Federal Crop Insurance Programs (EIB-184, November 2017)
    Changes in the structure of U.S. agriculture have changed the distribution of Government farm payments over time. As agricultural production continues to consolidate, commodity program payments, some conservation program payments, and Federal crop insurance indemnities have shifted to larger farms operated by higher income households. This report details the extent of that shift from 1991 to 2015.
  • Farm Household Income Volatility: An Analysis Using Panel Data From a National Survey (ERR-226, February 2017)
    Farm income is highly variable, and this variability can affect household welfare, agricultural production, and environmental quality. ERS researchers use a large panel dataset to provide new information about the extent and determinants of farm household income variability, to identify trends in volatility, and to estimate the risk-mitigating benefits of U.S. Government programs.

NASS Summary Tables and Charts

Other Material Highlighting ARMS

  • 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.