Publications

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  • The 1996 Farm Act Increases Market Orientation

    AIB-726, August 01, 1996

    The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, a milestone in U.S. agricultural policy, provides new farm sector law for 1996-2002, fundamentally redesigning income support programs and discontinuing supply management programs for producers of many commodities. This bulletin provides a general overview of major changes related to production agriculture resulting from the commodity provisions, agricultural trade provisions, and conservation provisions of the Act.

  • Profile of Hired Farmworkers, 1994 Annual Averages

    AER-748, February 03, 1997

    Hired farmworkers continue to earn less than all wage and salary workers, but the wage gap has narrowed. The median weekly earnings for hired farmworkers in 1994 were $238, an increase of 19 percent (5 percent when adjusted for inflation) from 1990; median weekly earnings for all wage and salary workers increased by 11 percent (a 2-percent decrease in real terms).

  • Profile of Hired Farmworkers, 1996 Annual Averages

    AER-762, April 01, 1998

    Examines demographic and employment characteristics of the 906,000 persons 15 years of age and older who did hired farmwork in 1996. Approximately 906,000 persons 15 years of age and older were employed as hired farmworkers each week in 1996. An additional 72,000 persons were hired as farmworkers each week as a secondary job. Hired farmworkers were more likely than all U.S. wage and salary workers to be male, Hispanic, younger, less educated, never married, and non-U.S. citizens.

  • Livestock Sectors in the Economies of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union: Transition from Plan to Market and the Road Ahead

    AER-798, January 01, 2002

    The report examines the restructuring of the livestock sectors in five countries: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, and Romania. All five countries experienced a decline in both animal inventories and meat output during the early years of transition away from a centrally planned economy. The study identifies potential trade and investment opportunities, but emphasizes that this potential depends on the successful implementation of institutional and policy reforms.

  • New Patterns of Hispanic Settlement in Rural America

    RDRR-99, May 28, 2004

    Since 1980, the nonmetro Hispanic population in the United States has doubled and is now the most rapidly growing demographic group in rural and small-town America. By 2000, half of all nonmetro Hispanics lived outside traditional settlement areas of the Southwest. Many Hispanics in counties that have experienced rapid Hispanic growth are recent U.S. arrivals with relatively low education levels, weak English proficiency, and undocumented status. This recent settlement has increased the visibility of Hispanics in many new regions of rural America whose population has long been dominated by non-Hispanic Whites. Yet within smaller geographic areas, the level of residential separation between them increased-i.e., the two groups became less evenly distributed-during the 1990s, especially in rapidly growing counties. Hispanic settlement patterns warrant attention by policymakers because they affect the well-being of both Hispanics and rural communities themselves.

  • Rural America At A Glance, 2004

    AIB-793, September 30, 2004

    Rural America At A Glance, 2004 is a six-page brochure that highlights the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas for use in developing policies and programs to assist rural areas. The brochure is the third in a series of reports that uses current social and economic data to highlight population, labor market, income, and poverty trends in rural areas. This brochure provides information on key rural conditions and trends for use by public and private decisionmakers and others in efforts to enhance the economic opportunities and quality of life for rural people and their communities.

  • Rural Hispanics At A Glance

    EIB-8, December 28, 2005

    Rural Hispanics at a Glance provides the latest information from the 2000 Census and other Federal data sources about Hispanics living in nonmetro counties. This six-page brochure highlights growth and geographic dispersion, demographic characteristics, and the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions for this population. It emphasizes rapid Hispanic population growth, particularly in new rural destinations of the Midwest and Southeast, and it illustrates differences in age structure between Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites. The report also provides data on important demographic, labor market, income, poverty, and social service indicators for nonmetro Hispanics. Using a visually interesting format that incorporates text bullets with charts and maps, it quickly provides information on key indicators of the rural Hispanic population to assist public officials, community organizations, private decision makers and others in their efforts to enhance the economic opportunities and quality of life for this rapidly growing population.

  • Low Costs Drive Production to Large Dairy Farms

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2007

    Dairy production is shifting to larger farms; small dairy farms are exiting, and more expect to leave in the next decade. Average production costs per hundredweight of milk produced fall sharply with herd size. Large dairy farms earn substantial profits, while most smaller operations experience economic losses. Given their cost advantages, the shift of dairy production to large farms contributes to rising industry productivity and lower real dairy prices.

  • Productivity Growth in U.S. Agriculture

    EB-9, September 04, 2007

    Innovation and changes in technology have been a driving force for gains in productivity growth in U.S. agriculture. USDA's Economic Research Service has developed annual indexes of agricultural inputs, outputs, and total factor productivity (TFP) for 1948 through 2004. American agriculture relies almost entirely on productivity growth to raise output. By lowering the cost of agricultural commodities, productivity growth benefits not only farmers but also food manufacturers and consumers.

  • Hired Farmworkers a Major Input For Some U.S. Farm Sectors

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2008

    With more than half of hired farmworkers lacking legal authorization to work in the U.S., legislative reforms of immigration policies could affect some parts of the agricultural sector.

  • Profile of Hired Farmworkers, A 2008 Update

    ERR-60, July 11, 2008

    ERS examines the size, importance, and composition of the hired farmworker force, updating information published in 2000. These workers make up a third of the farm labor

  • Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

    EIB-53, May 15, 2009

    Beginning farmers and ranchers accounted for 10 percent of the sector's total value of production in 2007. ERS provides an overview of their characteristics and the farm businesses they operate.

  • The U.S. Produce Industry and Labor: Facing the Future in a Global Economy

    ERR-106, November 12, 2010

    Fruit and vegetable production is a labor-intensive process, and over half of the hired workers employed by growers are believed to be unauthorized immigrants. Reforms to immigration laws, if they reduce the labor supply, may increase the cost of farm labor. The authors of this report assess how particular fruit and vegetable commodities might adjust if labor rates increased.

  • The Potential Impact of Changes in Immigration Policy on U.S. Agriculture and the Market for Hired Farm Labor: A Simulation Analysis

    ERR-135, May 22, 2012

    ERS examines potential impacts on agriculture of large shifts in the supply of foreign-born labor that might result in the event of substantial changes in U.S. immigration laws or policies.

  • Immigration Policy and Its Possible Effects on U.S. Agriculture

    Amber Waves, June 05, 2012

    Policymakers are considering changes to U.S. immigration law that would affect the market for hired farm labor--including mandatory use of an Internet-based employment eligibility verification system and an expanded guestworker program for nonimmigrant, foreign-born agricultural workers.

  • The Importance of Farmer-Owned Nonfarm Businesses in the Rural Economy

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2013

    Farm households that also operate nonfarm businesses have accounted for about 18 percent of U.S. farm households since the 1990s. In 2007, farmer-owned nonfarm businesses employed over 800,000 nonfarm workers and contributed an estimated $55 billion to their local communities’ gross county product.

  • Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming

    ERR-152, August 05, 2013

    Crop production and land have shifted to larger operations. ERS details the changes by region and commodity sector, and evaluates driving factors such as technologies, business organization and finances, land attributes, and policy.

  • 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.

  • When Working Off the Farm, Farm Operators Most Commonly Work in Management and Professional Occupations

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2013

    Most U.S. farm households earn income from nonfarm sources, and in 2011, roughly 56 percent of their nonfarm income came from off-farm jobs, on average. When working off-farm, 36 percent of farm operators and their spouses reported working in management and professional occupations.

  • Family Farming in the United States

    Amber Waves, March 04, 2014

    Family farms represent 97.6 percent of all U.S. farms, and are responsible for 85 percent of U.S. farm production.