Publications

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  • Comparing Participation in Nutrient Trading by Livestock Operations to Crop Producers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

    ERR-216, September 29, 2016

    Nutrient trading is a strategy in which polluters with high costs of reducing pollution can pay farmers to limit nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. But nutrient trading is more complex for livestock operations than for crop farms.

  • Economics of Antibiotic Use in U.S. Livestock Production

    ERR-200, November 24, 2015

    How widespread is use of antibiotics in U.S. livestock? What would be the affect on farmer practices and profits, and on supplies and prices, if antibiotic use for productivity-enhancing purposes were limited?

  • Restrictions on Antibiotic Use for Production Purposes in U.S. Livestock Industries Likely To Have Small Effects on Prices and Quantities

    Amber Waves, November 24, 2015

    Antibiotics are used widely in livestock production for control, prevention, and treatment of disease, and for “production purposes” such as growth promotion. The most recent estimates suggest that approximately 40 percent of finishing hogs in 2009 and up to about half of broilers in 2011 received antibiotics for production purposes.

  • Greater Heat Stress From Climate Change Could Lower Dairy Productivity

    Amber Waves, November 03, 2014

    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.

  • Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production

    ERR-175, September 30, 2014

    In 2010, heat stress lowered annual milk production for the average dairy by about $39,000, or $1.2 billion for the sector. In 2030, additional heat stress from climate change may lower milk production by an estimated 0.6 to 1.35 percent.

  • Confined Livestock Operations Account For a Majority of the Chesapeake Bay Area’s Farmland With Applied Manure

    Amber Waves, April 07, 2014

    Excessive flows of nutrients into the Chesapeake Bay can damage the bay’s environment, yielding coastal dead zones, fish kills, and impaired drinking water supplies. Agriculture is a main contributor to nutrient run-off, responsible for 38 percent of the bay’s nitrogen and 45 percent of phosphorus loadings.

  • Effects of Large-Scale Hog Production on Local Labor Markets

    Amber Waves, August 05, 2013

    For counties with large-scale hog operations, the average change in the number of hogs at these operations over each 5-year-period between 1992 and 2007 was 8,473. Each additional 1,000 hogs at large-scale hog facilities in a county generated 0.96 net jobs in the county, with gains in some sectors and losses in others.

  • Alternative Policies To Promote Anaerobic Digesters Produce Positive Net Benefits

    Amber Waves, December 03, 2012

    Rising fuel prices and the public’s desire for new sources of renewable energy and reduced carbon emissions have led to government policies that support the adoption of anaerobic digesters by livestock producers. ERS research finds that the design of such policies can affect farmer adoption rates of digesters, farm incomes, and environmental benefits from use of the technology.

  • Stricter Rules Prompt Livestock Producers To Choose Farm Size Just Below Regulatory Cutoff

    Amber Waves, June 05, 2012

    An important and unchanging feature of the Clean Water Act is that livestock operations confining more than a specific number of livestock face more stringent rules. However, some farmers are avoiding the regulations by adjusting the size of their operations to just below the cutoff point.

  • Trends and Developments in Hog Manure Management: 1998-2009

    EIB-81, September 14, 2011

    In the past decade, hog production has increasingly become consolidated, with larger operations producing a greater volume of hog manure on smaller areas. With less cropland for spreading the manure, hog farmers may be compensating through more effective manure management. The authors use data from 1998 to 2009 collected in three national surveys of hog farmers. Over this period, structural changes in the hog sector altered how manure is stored and handled. Changes to the Clean Water Act, State regulations, and local conflicts over air quality also affected manure management decisions. The findings further suggest that environmental policy has influenced conservation-compatible manure management practices. The authors examine how the use of nutrient management plans and of practices such as controlled manure application rates vary with scale of production and how these practices changed over the study period. This report is an update of an earlier report, Changes in Manure Management in the Hog Sector: 1998-2004.

  • Higher Carbon Prices Could Spur Adoption of Methane Digesters

    Amber Waves, March 14, 2011

    Currently, methane digesters’ costs often exceed their benefits to livestock producers, but higher prices in voluntary, regional, or national carbon markets could make them profitable for many operations.

  • Carbon Prices and the Adoption of Methane Digesters on Dairy and Hog Farms

    EB-16, February 07, 2011

    Biogas recovery systems collect methane from manure and burn it to generate electricity or heat. Burning methane reduces its global warming potential, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Climate change mitigation policies that effectively put a price on GHG emissions could allow livestock producers to "sell" these reductions to other greenhouse gas emitters who face emissions caps or who voluntarily wish to offset their own emissions. Depending on the direction and scope of future climate change legislation, income from carbon off set sales could make methane digesters profitable for many livestock producers. By modeling the main determinants of producers' decisions to adopt biogas recovery systems, we illustrate how the price of carbon influences this decision and the potential supply of carbon offsets from the livestock sector.

  • Climate Change Policy and the Adoption of Methane Digesters on Livestock Operations

    ERR-111, February 07, 2011

    Methane digesters-biogas recovery systems that use methane from manure to generate electricity-have not been widely adopted in the United States because costs have exceeded benefits to operators. Burning methane in a digester reduces greenhouse gas emissions from manure management. A policy or program that pays producers for these emission reductions-through a carbon offset market or directly with payments-could increase the number of livestock producers who would profit from adopting a methane digester. We developed an economic model that illustrates how dairy and hog operation size, location, and manure management methods, along with electricity and carbon prices, could influence methane digester profits. The model shows that a relatively moderate increase in the price of carbon could induce significantly more dairy and hog operations, particularly large ones, to adopt a methane digester, thereby substantially lowering emissions of greenhouse gases.