Publications

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  • Adjusting for Living Costs Can Change Who Is Considered Poor

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2006

    The prevalence of poverty has historically been greater in nonmetro than metro areas since poverty rates were first officially recorded. However, adjusting the official poverty measure for cost-of-living differences reverses the rankings of metro and nonmetro poverty. Such a reversal would have important implications for the geographic and demographic distribution of Federal funding of poverty-based programs.

  • Agriculture and Rural Communities Are Resilient to High Energy Costs

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2006

    Higher energy costs have led agricultural producers to substitute more expensive fuels with less expensive fuels, shift to less energy-intensive crops, and employ energy-conserving production practices where possible. Energy price increases will have the biggest impact on farmers where energy represents a significant share of operating costs. Rural communities face somewhat different issues with increases in petroleum and natural gas costs. As the cost of producing goods and services rises, so will household costs for transportation and home heating. Because of higher transportation expenses, rural communities may see changes in settlement patterns, especially in more remote rural areas.

  • Agritourism Farms Are More Diverse Than Other U.S. Farms

    Amber Waves, October 06, 2014

    Agritourism involves attracting paying visitors to farms by offering farm tours, harvest festivals, hospitality services (such as bed and breakfast), petting zoos, and other attractions. Farms that provide agritourism services also typically produce agricultural commodities and may provide a variety of other goods and services.

  • Agritourism Offers Opportunities For Farm Operators

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2008

    Farm-based recreation provides an important niche market for farmers, but limited empirical information is available on the topic. A recent ERS study found that both farm-based and place-based factors are associated with farm-to-farm variation in agritourism, as well as the amount of income farmers earn from operating a farm-based recreation business.

  • American Community Survey Enhances Rural Research

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2007

    The new American Community Survey, produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, will produce data on age, race, education, income, migration, commuting, housing, and other socioeconomic characteristics with much greater frequency than the decennial census. Researchers and policymakers interested in learning more about nonmetro (rural) areas will benefit from the ACS.

  • An Illustrated Guide to Research Findings from USDA's Economic Research Service

    EIB-48, April 01, 2009

    This book contains a sampling of recent ERS research illustrating the breadth of the Agency's research on current policy issues: from biofuels to food consumption to land conservation to patterns of trade for agricultural products.

  • Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America

    ERR-79, August 10, 2009

    If baby boomers follow past migration patterns, the nonmetro population age 55-75 will increase by 30 percent between now and 2020, with some rural communities affected more than others.

  • Behind the Data: Population Interaction Zones for Agriculture

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    Indicators: Behind the Data - June 2005

  • Broadband Internet Service Helping Create a Rural Digital Economy

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2009

    Investment in rural broadband Internet access seems to lead to a more competitive rural economy and rural economic growth, helping create a rural digital economy. A comparison of the economic growth of counties with broadband access in 2000 with that of otherwise similar counties without broadband shows that broadband availability helped spur the formation of new businesses and increased the growth of existing firms.

  • Broadband Internet's Value for Rural America

    ERR-78, August 17, 2009

    Broadband access is necessary to fully utilize Internet potential, and rural areas without broadband access may be disadvantaged. ERS examines recent growth in broadband access in rural areas and the impacts of broadband on their economies.

  • Changing the Definition of a “Farm” Can Affect Federal Funding

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    The Federal Government's definition of a farm affects farm statistics and influences the design and delivery of Federal farm programs. The definition also has implications for States because each State’s share of the national farm population is used to help allocate some Federal funding.

  • Comparing the Structure, Size, and Performance of Local and Mainstream Food Supply Chains

    ERR-99, June 21, 2010

    A series of coordinated case studies compares the structure, size, and performance of local food supply chains with those of mainstream supply chains in delivering locally produced food to consumers.

  • Comparisons of Metropolitan-Nonmetropolitan Poverty During the 1990's

    RDRR-96, June 25, 2003

    While the greater incidence of poverty in nonmetro relative to metro areas is well documented, there is little research as to whether it is deeper or more severe in nonmetro areas. This report examines metro-nonmetro differences in U.S. poverty rates, using data from Current Population Surveys (1991-2000) and poverty measures that are sensitive to income distribution. The standard practice of examining only the headcount, or incidence, of poverty provides the expected result that poverty is greater in nonmetro areas in all 10 years of the 1990s. The poverty gap index, which measures the depth of poverty, indicates that the difference in this measure of poverty is statistically significant in 6 of the 10 years. When the squared poverty gap index, a measure of severity, is examined, the estimate of nonmetro poverty is greater than the metro measure in only 3 of the 10 years.

  • Creating Rural Wealth: A New Lens for Rural Development Efforts

    Amber Waves, September 20, 2012

    Rural development efforts that create and maintain a broad portfolio of wealth may be central to sustainable rural prosperity.

  • Credit in Rural America

    AER-749, April 01, 1997

    In response to a mandate in the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, this report provides information on the major financial institutions and Federal programs active in rural America, the performance of rural financial markets, and the costs and benefits of proposals to expand the lending authority of the Farm Credit System (FCS) and commercial bank access to FCS funds. After examining available data on agricultural, housing, small business, and community development loans, lenders, and programs, this report concludes that rural financial markets work reasonably well in serving the financial needs of these sectors of the rural economy. While localized financial market problems exist in some rural communities, and not all segments of the rural economy are equally well served, financial market failures are neither endemic to nor epidemic in rural America. Therefore, policies which provide untargeted subsidies to a broad range of rural lenders or borrowers such as those examined in this report are unlikely to be cost effective. While the proposals we examined to expand FCS lending authority and bank access to FCS funds would benefit their sponsors and some rural communities, they would do little to address rural credit market imperfections and, at the national level, their associated costs would outweigh their benefits.

  • Defining the “Rural” in Rural America

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2008

    The use of different definitions of rural by Federal agencies reflects the multidimensional qualities of rural America.

  • Displaced Workers: Differences in Nonmetro and Metro Experience in the Mid-1990s

    RDRR-92, October 15, 2001

    During 1995-97, 3.4 million workers were displaced from their jobs, of whom 500,000 (15 percent) were nonmetro workers. This report examines the displaced workers' experience in metro and nonmetro areas using survey and administrative data. Although nonmetro workers were less likely to be displaced than metro workers, they had a lower probability of finding employment after losing their jobs. Nonmetro workers were less likely to be covered by legislation providing advance notice of job loss and providing retirement and health insurance benefits after being laid off. A variety of programs are available to assist displaced workers in nonmetro areas.

  • Economic Recovery: Lessons Learned From Previous Recessions

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    The rates of employment loss and unemployment in the recent recession are about the same in metro and nonmetro areas, but based on previous recessions, nonmetro employment may recover more slowly. As in past recessions, manufacturing-dependent nonmetro counties felt the effects of the recessions sooner than other nonmetro areas. Unemployment rates continue to be lowest for the college-educated in both nonmetro and metro areas.

  • Education's Role in the Metro-Nonmetro Earnings Divide

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2008

    Average earnings are lower in nonmetro areas than in metro areas, even after accounting for differences in the individual characteristics of nonmetro earners. The nonmetro-metro earnings gap is greater for workers with more education and more experience. For nonmetro households, lower earnings may be offset by factors difficult to measure, such as lower living costs or the value of rural amenities.

  • 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.