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  • 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 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 Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2006 Edition

    EIB-16, July 21, 2006

    These chapters describe trends in resources used in and affected by agricultural production, as well as the economic conditions and policies that influence agricultural resource use and its environmental impacts. Each of the 28 chapters provides a concise overview of a specific topic with links to sources of additional information. Chapters are available in HTML and pdf formats.

  • Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2012

    EIB-98, August 22, 2012

    The 2012 edition provides resource-and environment-related information including farmland area, productivity, irrigation, pesticide use, adoption of genetically engineered crops, fertilizer use, conservation practices, and land retirement.

  • Agriculture's Supply and Demand for Energy and Energy Products

    EIB-112, May 13, 2013

    Farmers have adapted to rising energy prices and evolving policies by adjusting their use of energy-based agricultural inputs, altering energy-intensive production practices, and growing more energy-feedstock crops.

  • An Economic Assessment of Policy Options To Reduce Agricultural Pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay

    ERR-166, June 04, 2014

    ERS researchers use data on agriculture in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to assess the effectiveness of different policies for achieving nutrient and sediment reduction goals, ranging from voluntary financial incentives to regulation.

  • Beyond Environmental Compliance: Stewardship as Good Business

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2004

    Agricultural producers can benefit economically by voluntarily adopting environmentally beneficial practices. An efficient farm would minimize unnecessary applications of pesticides and fertilizer, enhancing the bottom line as well as minimizing environmental impacts. But additional incentives may exist for farms to invest in environmental management.

  • 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.

  • Conservation-Practice Adoption Rates Vary Widely by Crop and Region

    EIB-147, December 21, 2015

    U.S. farmers' adoption of no till, strip till, cover crops and nutrient management varies by crop and region. In addition, many farmers are "partial" adopters, implementing conservation practices on some but not all acres of their farms.

  • Economic Issues in the Coexistence of Organic, Genetically Engineered (GE), and Non-GE Crops

    EIB-149, February 24, 2016

    ERS synthesizes production data on GE crop varieties, organic crops (which exclude GE seed), and conventionally grown non-GE crops, and considers coexistence practices and economic losses due to unintended presence of GE material.

  • Economics of Water Quality Protection From Nonpoint Sources: Theory and Practice

    AER-782, November 30, 1999

    Water quality is a major environmental issue. Pollution from nonpoint sources is the single largest remaining source of water quality impairments in the United States. Agriculture is a major source of several nonpoint-source pollutants, including nutrients, sediment, pesticides, and salts. Agricultural nonpoint pollution reduction policies can be designed to induce producers to change their production practices in ways that improve the environmental and related economic consequences of production. The information necessary to design economically efficient pollution control policies is almost always lacking. Instead, policies can be designed to achieve specific environmental or other similarly related goals at least cost, given transaction costs and any other political, legal, or informational constraints that may exist. This report outlines the economic characteristics of five instruments that can be used to reduce agricultural nonpoint source pollution (economic incentives, standards, education, liability, and research) and discusses empirical research related to the use of these instruments.

  • Factors Contributing to the Recent Increase in U.S. Fertilizer Prices, 2002-08

    AR-33, February 13, 2009

    U.S. prices of fertilizer nutrients began to rise steadily in 2002 and increased sharply to historic highs in 2008 due to the combined effects of a number of domestic and global long- and shortrun supply and demand factors. From 2007 to 2008, spring nitrogen prices increased by a third, phosphate prices nearly doubled, and potash prices doubled. The price spike in 2008 reflects low inventories at the beginning of 2008 combined with the inability of the U.S. fertilizer industry to quickly adjust to surging demand or sharp declines in international supply. Declining fertilizer demand, disruption in fall applications, increased fertilizer imports (July to August), and tightening credit markets for fertilizer purchases contributed to the decline of fertilizer prices in late 2008. The prospect for strong fertilizer demand in early 2009, high raw material costs for the manufacture of fertilizers, production cutbacks, and decreasing supplies from fertilizer imports, however, could put upward pressure on U.S. fertilizer prices in spring 2009.

  • Farm Profits and Adoption of Precision Agriculture

    ERR-217, October 18, 2016

    ERS examines recent trends in adoption of precision agriculture technologies, the production practices and farm characteristics associated with adoption, and whether adoption is associated with greater profitability on U.S. corn farms.

  • Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States

    ERR-162, February 20, 2014

    Farmer adoption of GE crops is associated with time savings, lower insecticide use, and more conservation tillage. Consumer acceptance of GE ingredients varies across countries, product characteristics, and level of information.

  • Impact of Rising Natural Gas Prices on U.S. Ammonia Supply

    WRS-0702, August 06, 2007

    The volatile and upward trend in U.S. natural gas prices from 2000-06 has led to a 17-percent decline in the Nation's annual aggregate supply of ammonia. During the period, U.S. ammonia production declined 44 percent, while U.S. ammonia imports increased 115 percent. Also, the share of U.S.-produced ammonia in the U.S. aggregate supply of ammonia dropped from 80 to 55 percent, while the share from imports increased from 15 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile, ammonia prices paid by farmers increased from $227 per ton in 2000 to $521 per ton in 2006, an increase of 130 percent. Natural gas is the main input used to produce ammonia. Additional increases in U.S. natural gas prices could lead to a further decline in domestic ammonia production and an even greater rise in ammonia imports.

  • Impacts of Higher Energy Prices on Agriculture and Rural Economies

    ERR-123, August 18, 2011

    ERS looks at direct and indirect impacts of higher energy prices on the agricultural and rural sectors, with scenarios developed for specific energy price changes.

  • Managing the Costs of Reducing Agriculture’s Footprint on the Chesapeake Bay

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    Runoff from agricultural activity and other nonpoint sources contributes to adverse environmental conditions in the Chesapeake Bay, interfering with fish and shellfish production and compromising recreational opportunities. In order to meet Environmental Protection Agency goals for the Chesapeake Bay, loadings of nutrients and sediments from agricultural activity must be reduced.

  • Manure Use for Fertilizer and for Energy: Report to Congress

    AP-037, June 25, 2009

    The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to evaluate the role of animal manure as a source of fertilizer, and its other uses. About 5 percent of all U.S. cropland is currently fertilized with livestock manure, and corn accounts for over half of the acreage to which manure is applied. Expanded environmental regulation through nutrient management plans will likely lead to wider use of manure on cropland, at higher production costs, but with only modest impacts on production costs, commodity demand, or farm structure. There is widespread interest in using manure as a feedstock for energy production. While current use is quite limited, expanded government support, either direct or indirectly, could lead to a substantial increase in manure use as a feedstock. However, current energy processes are unlikely to compete with fertilizer uses of manure, because they leave fertilizer nutrients as residues, in more marketable form, and because manure-to-energy projects will be most profitable in regions where raw manure is in excess supply, with the least value as fertilizer.

  • Mergers and Competition in Seed and Agricultural Chemical Markets

    Amber Waves, April 03, 2017

    Under recent merger proposals, the six global firms that dominate private agricultural chemical and seed research and production would be reduced to four. The mergers are subject to antitrust reviews in both the U.S. and the EU. The reviews will evaluate the likely effects of the mergers on specific seed and agricultural chemical markets, prices, and innovation.

  • Methyl Bromide Phaseout Proceeds: Users Request Exemptions

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2003

    Methyl bromide, a widely used fumigant in agriculture, is one of a number of chemicals-including refrigerants such as freon-being phased out of use worldwide under the Montreal Protocol signed by the U.S. and 182 other countries. The Protocol is an international treaty aimed at reducing or eliminating use of chemicals that contribute to the depletion of the atmosphere's ozone layer, which protects the Earth from ultraviolet radiation (UV). Higher levels of UV can increase the incidence of skin cancer and cataracts, suppress the immune system, and damage crops. The phaseout of methyl bromide could mitigate some of these harmful effects, but because methyl bromide is so important to agricultural production, the phaseout could also have some negative effects for producers and consumers.