Publications

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  • "No-Till" Farming Is a Growing Practice

    EIB-70, November 02, 2010

    ERS summarizes U.S. trends in the use of reduced-tillage practices on cropland planted to eight major crops--barley, corn, cotton, oats, rice, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat -- from 2000 to 2007, and provides estimates of acreage under no-till in 2009.

  • ARMS Data Highlight Trends in Cropping Practices

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    USDA's Agricultural Resource Management Survey provides a new source of information about production and conservation practices in major field crop producing States. Data from 1996 to 2000 show significant trends beginning to emerge that may have implications for environmental quality.

  • 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.

  • Additionality in Agricultural Conservation Programs

    Amber Waves, September 08, 2014

    Additionality measures the extent to which conservation program payments actually encourage adoption of practices that farmers would not otherwise adopt. Estimates of additionality are high for some practices, particularly installation of soil conservation structures (e.g., terraces) and buffers (e.g., field-edge filter strips), but not as high for others (e.g., conservation tillage).

  • Additionality in U.S. Agricultural Conservation and Regulatory Offset Programs

    ERR-170, July 28, 2014

    "Additionality," achieved when a voluntary payment to farmers causes a change in conservation practice leading to an improvement in environmental quality, varies by type of practice.

  • 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 Baseline Projections to 2005, Reflecting the 1996 Farm Act

    WAOB-971, April 23, 1997

    This report provides long-run baseline projections for the agricultural sector through 2005 that incorporate provisions of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (1996 Farm Act). The baseline assumes that the new farm legislation remains in effect through 2005. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices. Generally favorable global economic growth is projected in the baseline which, combined with liberalized trade associated with both the GATT agreement and unilateral policy reforms, supports strong growth in global trade and U.S. agricultural exports. Greater market orientation in the domestic agricultural sector under the 1996 Farm Act puts U.S. farmers in a favorable position for competing in the global marketplace. A tightening of the balance between productive capacity and demands results in rising nominal market prices, increasing farm income, and stability in the financial condition of the agricultural sector. However, management of risk will be important for farmers. With the reduced role of the Government in the sector under the 1996 Farm Act, farmers in general face greater risk of income volatility due to price variation, reflecting market price variability more directly. Consumer food prices are projected to continue a long term trend of rising less than the general inflation rate. The baseline projections presented are one representative scenario for the agricultural sector through the middle of the next decade, assuming no shocks and based on specific assumptions regarding macroeconomic conditions, policy, weather, and international developments. As such, the baseline provides a point of departure for discussion of alternative farm sector outcomes that could result under different assumptions. The projections in this report were prepared in October through December 1996, reflecting a composite of model results and judgmental analysis.

  • 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.

  • Alternative Beef Production Systems: Issues and Implications

    LDPM-21801, April 04, 2013

    U.S. beef markets are undergoing rapid change as alternative production systems evolve in response to consumer demands and compete with conventional grain-fed beef production.

  • America’s Organic Farmers Face Issues and Opportunities

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    Organic agriculture has established a foothold in many U.S. farm sectors, but the overall use of organic practices lags behind that of many other countries. Emerging issues in the sector include dampened consumer demand resulting from the weaker economy and competition from new labels like the “locally grown” label.

  • 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.

  • Antibiotics Used For Growth Promotion Have a Small Positive Effect on Hog Farm Productivity

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    Antibiotics are frequently used to treat and prevent diseases in livestock. In addition to these medical uses, a substantial share of hog producers incorporate antimicrobial drugs into their livestock’s feed or water to promote feed efficiency and weight gain. For many years, governmental and professional organizations have expressed concerns about the overuse of antimicrobial drugs in livestock.

  • Antimicrobial Drug Use and Veterinary Costs in U.S. Livestock Production

    AIB-766, May 01, 2001

    Feeding low levels of antimicrobial drugs to livestock affects food safety, human health, and livestock production costs and returns. This report examines the economics of antimicrobial resistance in livestock and the economic implications of banning the use of growth-enhancing antimicrobial drugs in livestock production.

  • Asymmetric Information in the Market for Yield and Revenue Insurance

    TB-1892, April 24, 2001

    This report analyzes farmers' choice of crop insurance contracts and tests for the presence of asymmetric information in the market for multiple yield and revenue insurance products. Farmers' risk characteristics, their level of income, and the cost of insurance significantly affect their choices of yield and revenue insurance products as well as their selections of alternative coverage levels. Empirical analysis indicates that, in the presence of asymmetric information, high-risk farmers are more likely to select revenue insurance contracts and higher coverage levels. The results also indicate that premium rates do not accurately reflect the likelihood of losses, implying informational asymmetrics in the crop insurance market.

  • Beef and Pork Values and Price Spreads Explained

    LDPM-11801, May 10, 2004

    Livestock and meat prices vary more in the short run than costs of production, processing, and marketing. ERS research shows that month-to-month changes in livestock and meat prices are driven by dynamic adjustment. It takes time for prices to adjust, and they tend to adjust more rapidly when they are increasing than when they are decreasing. When rates depend on direction, price adjustment is called asymmetric. The slow and asymmetric adjustment of prices does not appear to work against livestock producers. This report examines these price transmission issues and also explains price spread calculations and analyzes the relationship between marketing costs and livestock prices in the long run.

  • 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.

  • Broiler Producers Search for Alternatives to Antibiotics

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    Broiler producers who do not administer subtherapeutic antibiotics rely instead on a portfolio of other practices to prevent disease and promote growth in birds. Operations of producers who do not use STAs are characterized by more rigorous sanitation practices, improved ventilation for poultry housing, and more extensive testing for pathogens than farms of STA users.

  • California’s Irrigation Varies by Crop

    Amber Waves, July 06, 2015

    Farmers in California grow a wide variety of crops using off-farm surface water, groundwater, and to a limited extent, on-farm surface water. Differences in the source of irrigation water play a major role in how vulnerable different crops are to shortfalls in surface water supplies due to drought. Farmers of different crops also have differing levels of investment in irrigation technologies.