Publications

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Beyond Nutrition and Organic Labels—30 Years of Experience With Intervening in Food Labels

    ERR-239, November 17, 2017

    ERS researchers examine five food label case studies that show the economic effects and tradeoffs involved in setting product standards, verifying claims, and enforcing truthfulness.

  • Changes in Retail Organic Price Premiums from 2004 to 2010

    ERR-209, May 24, 2016

    Of 17 organic food products ERS analyzed, most retail price premiums fluctuated between 2004 and 2010, neither increasing nor decreasing steadily. Only three products-fresh spinach, canned beans, and coffee-showed steady premium decreases.

  • Characteristics of Conventional and Organic Apple Production in the United States

    FTS-34701, July 25, 2011

    This report uses data from USDA's 2007 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and other sources to examine trends in the U.S. apple sector and compare production and marketing characteristics under organic and conventional farming systems.

  • Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming

    ERR-82, November 02, 2009

    ERS addresses size, regional differences, and pasture use in organic milk production. Economic forces have pressured organic dairies to operate more like their conventional counterparts and take advantage of economies of size.

  • Consumers Willing To Pay a Premium for Organic Produce

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    Consumers are buying organic food despite its generally higher price tag. Retail sales of organic food increased from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $18.9 billion in 2007, accounting for over 3 percent of total U.S. food sales.

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2007

    Certified organic production is scattered world-wide and is growing across the U.S. In 2005, for the first time, all U.S. states had some certified organic farmland. Overall adoption level is still low-only about 0.5 percent of all U.S. cropland and 0.5 percent of all U.S. pasture was certified organic in 2005.

  • Despite Profit Potential, Organic Field Crop Acreage Remains Low

    Amber Waves, November 02, 2015

    USDA survey data show that organic systems had lower yields and higher total economic costs than conventional systems. Organic corn and soybeans have been profitable, primarily due to the significant price premiums paid for certified organic crops that more than offset the additional economic costs. Organic wheat has been less profitable.

  • EU and U.S. Organic Markets Face Strong Demand Under Different Policies

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2006

    The article compares EU-15 and US policies regarding organic agriculture, and compares the farm sector and retail markets in the two regions.

  • 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 Food Labeling

    AER-793, January 25, 2001

    Federal intervention in food labeling is often proposed with the aim of achieving a social goal such as improving human health and safety, mitigating environmental hazards, averting international trade disputes, or supporting domestic agricultural and food manufacturing industries. Economic theory suggests, however, that mandatory food-labeling requirements are best suited to alleviating problems of asymmetric information and are rarely effective in redressing environmental or other spillovers associated with food production and consumption. Theory also suggests that the appropriate role for government in labeling depends on the type of information involved and the level and distribution of the costs and benefits of providing that information. This report traces the economic theory behind food labeling and presents three case studies in which the government has intervened in labeling and two examples in which government intervention has been proposed.

  • Emerging Issues in the U.S. Organic Industry

    EIB-55, June 03, 2009

    Consumer demand for organic products has widened over the last decade. While new producers have emerged to help meet demand, market participants report that a supply squeeze is constraining growth for both individual firms and the organic sector overall. Partly in response to shortages in organic supply, Congress in 2008 included provisions in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (2008 Farm Act) that, for the first time, provide financial support to farmers to convert to organic production. This report examines recent economic research on the adoption of organic farming systems, organic production costs and returns, and market conditions to gain a better understanding of the organic supply squeeze and other emerging issues in this rapidly changing industry.

  • Expanding Demand for Organic Foods Brings Changes in Marketing

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    The past decade has seen major changes in organic product retailing. In the late 1990s, the natural products channel was the primary outlet for purchasing organic food. By 2006, approximately half of all organic food was sold through the conventional channel, which includes chain supermarkets and warehouse club stores.

  • Farm Activities Associated With Rural Development Initiatives

    ERR-134, May 16, 2012

    A number of rural development initiatives have targeted farm-related activities (e.g., agritourism, energy production). ERS examines the characteristics of farms and farm households involved in such activities.

  • Farm Production Practices To Preserve Non-Genetically Engineered Product Markets

    Amber Waves, March 07, 2016

    To receive the price premiums associated with organic and conventional non-GE crops, producers must minimize the unintended presence of GE materials in their crops. USDA organic surveys show that producers commonly use buffer strips or delay crop planting until after any nearby GE crops are planted to minimize accidental crop mixing.

  • Growing Organic Demand Provides High-Value Opportunities for Many Types of Producers

    Amber Waves, February 06, 2017

    In 2015, the Organic Trade Association estimated U.S. organic retail sales at $43.3 billion, showing double-digit growth during most years since 2000, when USDA set national organic standards. Since setting national organic standards, USDA has streamlined trade arrangements with multiple foreign governments to expand international markets for U.S. organic producers.

  • Growth Patterns in the U.S. Organic Industry

    Amber Waves, October 24, 2013

    While Americans economized on their food purchases during the 2007-09 recession, including purchases of organic products, growth in demand for organic products rebounded quickly following the recession. Estimated U.S. organic food sales were $28 billion in 2012 (over 4 percent of total at-home food sales), up 11 percent from 2011.

  • Investigating Retail Price Premiums for Organic Foods

    Amber Waves, May 24, 2016

    A recent ERS study of 17 commonly purchased organic foods found price premiums for the organic foods relative to their nonorganic counterparts in 2010 ranged from 7 percent for fresh spinach to 82 percent for milk.

  • Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook: December 2006

    LDPM-15001, December 27, 2006

    Organic poultry and egg markets in the United States are expanding rapidly. Statistics for the sector, especially the number of organic broilers, also signal expanding domestic supply. This report examines trends in markets, animal numbers, and prices for organic poultry and eggs. Price comparisons between organic and conventional show significant organic price premiums for both broilers and eggs.