Publications

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  • A History of Sugar Marketing Through 1974

    AER-382, March 01, 1978

    The quota system of regulating the production, importation, and marketing of sugar in the United States through 1974 was an outgrowth of Government regulation of the sugar trade dating from colonial times. Similar systems have developed in most other countries, particularly those which import sugar. The U.S. Sugar Quota System benefited domestic sugar producers by providing stable prices at favorable levels. These prices also encouraged the production and use of substitute sweeteners, particularly high fructose and glucose syrup and crystalline dextrose in various industries. But sugar is still the most widely used sweetener in the United States, although its dominant position is being increasingly threatened.

  • Provisions of the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981

    AGES-811228, January 01, 1982

    Commodity program provisions of the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981 are summarized. Price support, loan level, disaster payment, program acreage, and other provisions of the legislation are discussed for wheat, feed grains, cotton, rice, peanuts, soybeans, sugar, dairy, and wool and mohair. The following provisions are also summarized: miscellaneous; grain reserves; the national agricultural cost of production standards review board; agricultural exports and P.L. 480; food stamps; research, extension, and teaching; resource conservation; credit, rural development, and family farms; and floral research and consumer information.

  • An Initial Assessment of the Payment-in-Kind Program

    AP-039, April 29, 1983

    Weak domestic demand, the first drop in exports in more than a decade, and large farm surpluses placed significant downward pressure on commodity prices and farm incomes and created the potential for large government outlays. The payment-in-kind (PIK) program was designed to idle substantial acreage without increasing government program costs. This report provides an assessment of the PIK program on production, prices, and incomes.

  • History of Agricultural Price-Support and Adjustment Programs, 1933-84

    AIB-485, December 03, 1984

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture's concern with price-support and adjustment legislation is carried out under a series of interrelated laws passed by Congress from 1933 to 1984. Beginning with the major proposals of the 1920s for handling and marketing farm surpluses, this history records the establishment of price-support and adjustment programs with the Federal Farm Board in 1929 and the Agricultural Adjustment Acts of 1933 and 1938, and then traces their evolution through 1984. This half century of development is important because it forms the foundation for implementing current and future farm legislation.

  • Possible Economic Consequences of Reverting to Permanent Legislation or Eliminating Price and Income Supports

    AER-526, January 01, 1985

    If the agricultural legislation expiring in 1985 is not replaced, farm price and income supports will revert from the programs provided for in the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981 and subsequent legislation to the programs provided for in the permanent support statutes. Reverting to the permanent support programs, dating back in some cases to the 1930s, would raise price and income support levels significantly and greatly reduce the role of market forces in determining farm returns. Conversely, if all price and income supports were eliminated in 1985, Government intervention in the market would end and supply and demand forces would determine farm returns. Adopting either of these two outerbound policy alternatives would have significant and far-reaching impacts on farm operations, the agribusiness sector, the general economy, and ultimately the world market for farm products.

  • Agricultural-Food Policy Review: Commodity Program Perspectives

    AER-530, July 01, 1985

    This review prepared for 1985 farm legislation provides an historical overview of U.S. farm policies, an evaluation of the performance of current commodity programs, a description of the general economic setting in which the legislation will operate, and a discussion of possible alternative policy tools and concepts. Particular focus is given to the purpose of commodity programs and an economic assessment of their performance.

  • The Diverse Social and Economic Structure of Nonmetropolitan America

    RDRR-49, September 18, 1985

    Effective rural development planning depends on facts and analysis based, not on national rural averages, but on the diverse social and economic structure of rural America. Programs tailored to particular types of rural economies may be more effective than a generalized program. This study identifies seven distinct types of rural counties according to their major economic base, presence of federally owned land, or population characteristics: (1) counties depending heavily on farming, (2) counties depending heavily on manufacturing, (3) mining counties with economic based principally on natural resources, (4) counties specializing in government functions, (5) persistent poverty counties, (6) Federal lands counties, and (7) retirement settlements. Because of these unique characteristics, government policies and economic trends may affect these county groups in quite different ways.

  • Provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985

    AIB-498, April 01, 1986

    The Food Security Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-198) establishes a comprehensive framework within which the Secretary of Agriculture will administer agriculture and food programs from 1986 through 1990. This report describes the Act's provisions for dairy, wool and mohair, wheat, feed grains, cotton, rice, peanuts, soybeans, and sugar (including income and price supports, disaster payments, and acreage reductions); other general commodity provisions; trade; conservation; credit; research, extension, and teaching; food stamps; and marketings. These provisions are compared with earlier legislation.

  • Developing an Integrated Information System for the Food Sector

    AER-575, August 03, 1987

    An information system for the food sector that integrates measures of prices, quantities, and values provides more information about many developments in the food sector than a system that separately measures prices, quantities, or values. This system allows greater understanding of the sources of food, outlets, food purchasers, and productivity in food marketing.

  • Ethanol: Economic and Policy Tradeoffs

    AER-585, April 29, 1988

    Federally supported ethanol use is one alternative for meeting environmental, energy security, and agricultural objectives. Additional expansion of the industry depends on a continuation of current favorable conditions, including extension of the Federal gasoline tax exemption. Under current conditions, ethanol should be able to compete with other additives as an octane enhancer. Expansion of the ethanol industry would increase ethanol's contribution to improving energy security, reducing air quality problems associated with carbon monoxide, and increasing corn prices. The report provides a basis for assessing the tradeoffs in using ethanol to meet national objectives.

  • Ethanol and U.S. Agriculture

    AIB-559, January 02, 1989

    Ethanol produced from grain is viewed by many as a way to reduce energy imports, levels of carbon monoxide in the air, and surplus grain stocks. Federal and State governments helped to establish the fuel ethanol industry by providing direct payments, tax exemptions, and loan guarantees. Future Policy decisions could significantly affect ethanol production and demand. Treatment of ethanol in agricultural policy is made difficult by its ties to energy, environmental, and trade policy. This bulletin provides a basis for assessing the contribution of ethanol production to national objectives.

  • Water Quality Benefits From the Conservation Reserve Program

    AER-606, February 03, 1989

    The Conservation Reserve Program, a land retirement program designed to remove from production 40 to 45 million acres of highly erodible cropland, may generate an estimated $3.5 to $4 billion in water quality benefits. Potential benefits include lower water treatment costs, lower sediment removal costs, less flood damage, less damage to equipment which uses water, and increased recreational fishing. Benefits were estimated with a set of procedures that approximated the physical, chemical, biological and economic links between soil erosion and water use.

  • Economics of Ethanol Production in the United States

    AER-607, March 01, 1989

    Expansion of the U.S. ethanol industry hinges largely on extension of the Federal fuel excise tax exemption and corn prices. This report examines production costs and the relative competitiveness of the ethanol industry. The report evaluates structural characteristics of the industry, including economies of scale and the relative economics of the two primary manufacturers, wet- and dry-mill plants.

  • An Economic Analysis of Electron Accelerators and Cobalt-60 for Irradiating Food

    TB-1762, June 01, 1989

    ERS estimated the installation and operating costs for two types of irradiation: an electron beam system or a Cobalt-60 gamma ray system. The capital costs of food irradiation equipment depend primarily on the irradiation source, food product, plant volume, and facility design. Economics of scale were estimated for plants processing different volumes.

  • A Short History of U.S. Agricultural Trade Negotiations

    AGES-8923, August 01, 1989

    The U.S. proposal to eliminate domestic farm subsidies worldwide, presented to the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations in 1987, is a significant break with past policies. Trade liberalization has been a U.S. goal since the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934, but, until recently, the United States and many other nations have acted to preserve their own farm subsidies. In the 1980s, slower growth in international farm trade, the threat of trade wars, and higher subsidy costs have led to a reassessment of domestic as well as export subsidies and have created a climate favorable to eliminating subsidies.

  • Cotton: Background for 1990 Farm Legislation

    AGES-8942, September 01, 1989

    This report address considerations in the 1990 farm bill debate for cotton, including market conditions, policy proposals, trade agreements, and the interactions between policy and markets for selected commodities. Government programs since the 1930s have supported prices and attempted to adjust cotton acreage and production to meet market needs, with varying degrees of success. The Food Security Act of 1985 is generally considered successful in dealing with the cotton sector despite several problems. The marketing loan provisions of the act helped make cotton competitive in 1987 and some world market share was won back by U.S. cotton. However, in 1988-89, problems with the adjusted world price formula and with the storage terms resulted in owners of cotton holding stocks rather than releasing them to the market even though U.S. stocks were high.

  • Oats: Background for 1990 Farm Legislation

    AGES-8946, September 01, 1989

    This report address considerations in the 1990 farm bill debate for oats, including market conditions, policy proposals, trade agreements, and the interactions between policy and markets for selected commodities. Oats acreage has trended downward since the 1950s. Domestic production has not met domestic needs, thereby spurring imports. Production has declined due, in part, to current Government programs. Oats have rapidly become a specialty feed mostly for race and pleasure horses. Human food consumption of oats, once a stable component of disappearance, has begun to grow. Exports have become very small. Price support loans have been available to oats producers since 1945. However, deficiency and diversion payments were not made to them until 1983. Program costs in fiscal year 1989 are estimated at $40 million, about 5 percent of the 1988 crop value.

  • Corn: Background for 1990 Farm Legislation

    AGES-8947, September 01, 1989

    This report address considerations in the 1990 farm bill debate for corn, including market conditions, policy proposals, trade agreements, and the interactions between policy and markets for selected commodities. Corn is the leading U.S. crop, both in volume and in value. In 1987, farmers planted about 65 million acres and harvested 7.1 billion bushels. The farm value of production totaled about $13 billion, about 36 percent of farm receipts from crops. Rising corn yields and market prices strengthened corn farmers' cash flow positions in the late 1970s; however, per bushel real returns above cash expenses declined in recent years. Lower loan rates, the issuance and exchange of generic certificates, and devaluation of the U.S. dollar relative to the mid-1980s all contributed to the growth of U.S. corn exports in recent years. Government program costs for corn averaged more than $4.6 billion a year during the 1984-88 crop years, or 30 percent of the 15.7 billion corn crop value. Higher feed grain prices stemming from the programs comprise an additional cost to the livestock sector and consumers.

  • Wheat: Background for 1990 Farm Legislation

    AGES-8956, October 02, 1989

    This report address considerations in the 1990 farm bill debate for wheat, including market conditions, policy proposals, trade agreements, and the interactions between policy and markets for selected commodities. Surplus wheat stocks declined under the 1985 Food Security Act as exports expanded due in part to the export enhancement program and reductions in the loan rate. Cutbacks in wheat production and recent droughts in key producing areas further reduced wheat stocks and increased prices. Although burdensome stocks could easily return, there is also the risk of shortage and high prices if additional production shortfalls and demand increases occur in the near future. Exports will likely be the main source of demand growth for U.S. wheat. However, world trade is not expected to match the sharp expansion of the 1970s and competition among the major exporters may intensify. Issues for 1990 farm legislation include loan rate and target price levels, the level of farm program costs, planting flexibility, and the future of the export enhancement program.

  • Tobacco Background for 1990 Farm Legislation

    AGES-8948, October 02, 1989

    This report address considerations in the 1990 farm bill debate for tobacco, including market conditions, policy proposals, trade agreements, and the interactions between policy and markets for selected commodities. Tobacco is grown in 21 States on about 137,000 farms. Several types and kinds are grown, but flue-cured and burley account for about 94 percent of total production. After steadily declining from 1975 to 1986, tobacco production has risen the last 3 years. Supply and demand are in balance because excess stocks have been used. After declining for several years, cigarette production rose in 1987 and 1988 because of growing exports. Legislation enacted in 1986 lowered support prices, moved loan stocks into the trade, and changed quota setting to a more market-oriented approach. Still, major problems exist. Domestic tobacco product consumption continues to decline and the United States continues to face stiff competition in world markets, even with lower prices.