Publications

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  • 2006 Farm Net Cash Income Expected To Decline Slightly

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2007

    This article provides a summary of updated forecasts of value-added and various income measures from production activities in 2006 for the U.S. farm sector, plus the associated forecast of the farm balance sheet. Forecast includes the latest economic information based on crop harvests and livestock production for the 2006 calendar year.

  • 2014 Farm Act Shifts Crop Commodity Programs Away From Fixed Payments and Expands Program Choices

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    The new Farm Act continues a shift toward closer links between commodity programs and Federal crop insurance, involving complex trade-offs for producers. Read about it in the July issue of Amber Waves magazine.

  • A New Outlook for the U.S.-Mexico Sugar and Sweetener Market

    SSSM-335-01, August 11, 2016

    ERS examines the U.S. trade remedy investigations on sugar imports from Mexico and considers how the recent "suspension agreement" restrictions on these imports change the outlook for the integrated U.S.-Mexico sweetener market.

  • A Primer on Land Use in the United States

    Amber Waves, December 04, 2017

    Land use and land-use change have important economic and environmental implications for commodity production and trade, soil and water conservation, and other policy issues. The ERS Major Land Uses (MLU) series is the longest running, most comprehensive accounting of all major uses of public and private land in the United States. The U.S. land area totals just under 2.3 billion acres.

  • A Safety Net for Farm Households

    AER-788, October 02, 2000

    Discussions in the public arena have raised fundamental questions about the ultimate goals of farm policy and the need for establishing a safety net for farm households. This report examines four scenarios for government assistance to agriculture based on the concept of ensuring some minimum standard of living. Lower income farmers would benefit relatively more from the safety net scenarios, while farmers producing selected commodities benefit relatively more from current farm programs. Farm households in the Northern Crescent, the Eastern Uplands, the Southern Seaboard, and the Fruitful Rim all would generally receive a higher level and a greater proportion of benefits than under current programs. A clear understanding of objectives and intended beneficiaries must be the starting point for discussions of future farm policy.

  • A Visual Primer for the Food and Agricultural Sectors

    Amber Waves, December 16, 2013

    Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, released in September 2013, is a collection of charts and maps covering fundamental statistics and trends related to the U.S. agricultural and food sectors. This data feature highlights a few of the questions that can be answered by the Essentials.

  • Accelerated Productivity Growth Offsets Decline in Resource Expansion in Global Agriculture

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    The rate of growth in global agricultural productivity has accelerated in recent decades and accounts for an increasing share of expanding agricultural production.

  • Adaptation Can Help U.S. Crop Producers Confront Climate Change

    Amber Waves, February 21, 2013

    Adaptive behaviors such as adjusting crop choices and production practices may help farmers mitigate the negative effects of climate change and enable some producers to capitalize on new opportunities.

  • Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops by U.S. Farmers Has Increased Steadily for Over 15 Years

    Amber Waves, March 04, 2014

    Farmers planted about 170 million acres of GE crops in 2013.

  • Agricultural Adaptation to a Changing Climate: Economic and Environmental Implications Vary by U.S. Region

    ERR-136, July 06, 2012

    ERS models the farm sector's ability to adapt to a changing climate with current practices and technology, and explores economic and environmental implications of adaptation under a range of climate change scenarios.

  • Agricultural Contracting Update, 2005

    EIB-35, April 01, 2008

    Over half of all transactions for U.S. farm products involved commodities bought and sold in open markets. But formal contractual arrangements cover a growing share of production.

  • Agricultural Contracting Update: Contracts in 2003

    EIB-9, January 04, 2006

    Marketing and production contracts covered 39 percent of the value of U.S. agricultural production in 2003, up from 36 percent in 2001 and a substantial increase over estimated values of 28 percent for 1991 and 11 percent in 1969. Large farms are far more likely to contract than small farms; in fact, contracts cover over half of the value of production from farms with at least $1 million in sales. Although use of both production and marketing contracts has grown over time, growth is more rapid for production contracts, which are largely used for livestock.

  • Agricultural Contracting Update: Contracts in 2008

    EIB-72, February 14, 2011

    ERS examines the effects of current Federal tax provisions regarding low- and moderate-income households in rural America, focusing on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).

  • Agricultural Energy Use and the Proposed Clean Power Plan

    Amber Waves, September 08, 2014

    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.

  • Agricultural Export Programs: Background for 1990 Farm Legislation

    AGES-9033, May 01, 1990

    Lawmakers authorized several new export programs under the Food Security Act of 1985 in an attempt to increase agricultural exports. U.S. agricultural exports began to recover in fiscal 1987 and, in fiscal 1989, climbed to $39.6 billion, their highest level since 1981. Since 1986, U.S. agricultural export programs, a depreciating dollar, lower domestic commodity prices relative to world prices, and increased demand from importers have contributed to improved agricultural export sales. However, competition for world agricultural markets also has increased. Export programs help U.S. exporters meet subsidized competition, provide humanitarian relief, assist credit-seeking importers, and may help develop new overseas markets for U.S. agricultural products. Issues which could affect export programs in 1990 legislation include tightened U.S. and global grain stocks, potential budget exposure for increased loan guarantees, and the outcome of trade negotiations under the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

  • Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, 2009 Edition

    AIS-88, December 22, 2009

    All three measures of U.S. farm income are projected to decline in 2009-net farm income is projected to decline by 34.5 percent, net cash income by 28.4 percent, and net value added by 20 percent. Considerable uncertainty surrounds the forecasts of farm assets, debt, and equity in 2009, given the volatility of commodity, energy/input, and financial markets. The overall level of farm-business equity capital is expected to fall in 2009, as farm-sector asset values decline by 3.5 percent. Farm debt is expected to remain steady at $239 billion in 2009. Farm financial ratios monitoring liquidity, efficiency, solvency, and profitability show that the sector's financial performance in 2008-09, while slightly worse than in 2007, is quite favorable overall when compared to the 1980s and 1990s. Average net cash income for farm businesses (intermediate and commercial operations, including non-family farms) is projected to be $61,578 in 2009. This would be 10.6 percent below the 2008 estimate of $68,876. The projected change in income prospects for farm businesses will not affect all farm operations in the same manner or to the same degree. In 2009, the largest declines in farm-business income are forecast for livestock farms, particularly dairy. Farm-operator household income is forecast to be $76,065, down 3.5 percent from 2008. Household earnings from off-farm sources are projected to be similar to 2008.

  • Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, 2010 Edition

    AIS-90, December 15, 2010

    Net farm income is forecast at $81.6 billion in 2010, up 31 percent from 2009 and 26 percent higher than the 10-year average of $64.8 billion for 2000 to 2009. Net cash income at $92.5 billion would be a nominal record, 2.3 percent above the prior record attained in 2008. Net value added is expected to increase by almost $20 billion in 2010 to $132.0 billion. Production expenses are forecast to rise moderately, reversing the significant declines seen in 2009. However, nominal total production expenses in 2010 and 2009 still constitute the second- and third-highest totals ever. Farm business equity (assets minus debt) is expected to rise nearly 4 percent, largely due to an expected 3-percent increase in the value of farm business real estate and a 2-percent decline in farm business debt. The farm business sector's debt-to-asset ratio is expected to decline to 11.3 percent and the debt-to-equity ratio is expected to decline to 12.8 percent in 2010, indicating that the farm sector's solvency position remains strong. Average net cash income for farm businesses is expected to increase throughout much of the country in 2010. The expected strong recovery in dairy, hog, and cattle receipts will result in much higher average net cash incomes for farm businesses in the Northern Crescent, Basin and Range, and Prairie Gateway. In the Northern Crescent, where dairy is a prominent commodity, average net cash income for farm businesses is forecast to increase by over 58 percent. Incomes are expected to be almost 50 percent higher in 2010 for farm businesses in the Basin and Range region where cattle are an important commodity, a region that showed the Average farm household income of principal farm operators-from farm and off-farm sources-is forecast to be $83,194 in 2010, up 7.8 percent from 2009. This contrasts with the change for the 2008 to 2009 period, when average farm household income declined by 3.3 percent.

  • Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, 2011 Edition

    AIS-91, December 14, 2011

    Net farm income is forecast at $100.9 billion in 2011, up 28 percent from 2010 and 50 percent higher than the 10-year average of $67.4 billion for 2001-2010. Net cash income at $109.8 billion would be a nominal record, 19 percent above the prior record attained in 2010. Net value added is expected to increase by almost $24 billion in 2011 to $153.7 billion. Production expenses are forecast to jump substantially in 2011 to a record nominal high exceeding $300 billion. Prices paid indexes drive the forecast increase. Inflation-adjusted 2011 production expenses will exceed the previous peak reached in 1979. The values of farm business sector assets and equity (assets minus debt) are forecast to rise in 2011, while farm debt is forecast to decline from 2010 levels. Farm sector asset values are expected to rise by 6.8 percent in 2011 as the values of land and farm buildings, crop inventories, purchased inputs, machinery and equipment and financial assets are all expected to rise in 2011. Farm sector debt is expected to fall from about $247 billion in 2010 to about $243 billion in 2011. The decline in real estate debt is expected to be about $4 billion (-3.0 percent). The farm business sector's debt-to-asset ratio is expected to decline to 10.4 percent and debt-to-equity is expected to decline to 11.6 percent in 2011, indicating that the farm sector's solvency position remains strong. Average net cash income for farm businesses is expected to increase throughout most of the country in 2011, although income growth is not as high as experienced in 2010. High commodity prices for both crops and livestock are driving these increases, despite increasing expenses in all categories other than labor. Except for poultry, high prices in 2011 have helped the livestock sector to continue the strong performance of 2010 despite an environment of increasing feed expenses. Driven by the gains in most crop and livestock farms, all regions other than the Southern Seaboard are expected to experience at least a 7-percent improvement in average net cash income over 2010. Median farm household income increased by 3.7 percent in 2010 to $54,162 and is forecast to be higher in 2011. Bolstered by higher farm asset values, the balance sheet of farm households improved in 2010, with median net worth increasing by 6.5 percent to $576,745.

  • Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States: 1948-2011

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2014

    U.S. total farm production more than doubled between 1948 and 2011. Agricultural output growth was mainly driven by productivity growth, with little contribution from total agricultural inputs growth.

  • Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States: 1948-2015

    Amber Waves, March 05, 2018

    Technological developments in agriculture have driven long-term growth in U.S. agricultural productivity. Innovations in animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment, and farm organization have enabled continuing output growth while using much less labor and farmland. As a result, total agricultural output nearly tripled between 1948 and 2015—even as the amount of labor and land used declined.