Publications

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  • The Diverse Structure and Organization of U.S. Beef Cow-Calf Farms

    EIB-73, March 28, 2011

    The beef cow-calf industry is characterized by large numbers of small farms, although large farms account for most of the production. Operators of beef cow-calf farms have varying goals for their cattle enterprises.

  • Carbon Prices and the Adoption of Methane Digesters on Dairy and Hog Farms

    EB-16, February 07, 2011

    Biogas recovery systems collect methane from manure and burn it to generate electricity or heat. Burning methane reduces its global warming potential, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Climate change mitigation policies that effectively put a price on GHG emissions could allow livestock producers to "sell" these reductions to other greenhouse gas emitters who face emissions caps or who voluntarily wish to offset their own emissions. Depending on the direction and scope of future climate change legislation, income from carbon off set sales could make methane digesters profitable for many livestock producers. By modeling the main determinants of producers' decisions to adopt biogas recovery systems, we illustrate how the price of carbon influences this decision and the potential supply of carbon offsets from the livestock sector.

  • Climate Change Policy and the Adoption of Methane Digesters on Livestock Operations

    ERR-111, February 07, 2011

    Methane digesters-biogas recovery systems that use methane from manure to generate electricity-have not been widely adopted in the United States because costs have exceeded benefits to operators. Burning methane in a digester reduces greenhouse gas emissions from manure management. A policy or program that pays producers for these emission reductions-through a carbon offset market or directly with payments-could increase the number of livestock producers who would profit from adopting a methane digester. We developed an economic model that illustrates how dairy and hog operation size, location, and manure management methods, along with electricity and carbon prices, could influence methane digester profits. The model shows that a relatively moderate increase in the price of carbon could induce significantly more dairy and hog operations, particularly large ones, to adopt a methane digester, thereby substantially lowering emissions of greenhouse gases.

  • Consumer-Level Food Loss Estimates and Their Use in the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data

    TB-1927, January 03, 2011

    The Food Availability (per capita) Data System developed by USDA's Economic Research Service tracks annual food and nutrient availability for many commodities. The Food Availability data series in this system overstates actual consumption, so ERS has included an additional series, the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data, to adjust the Food Availability data for nonedible food parts and food losses, including losses from farm to retail, at retail, and at the consumer level. In this report, we propose new consumer-level loss estimates for "cooking loss and uneaten food" of the edible share to replace those currently used in the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data and propose their adoption for the entire data span (1970 to the most recent year in the series). The proposed loss percentages are calculated by subtracting food consumption estimates from food purchase or availability estimates for each food. These calculations are adjusted with information from an expert panel experienced in analyzing food consumption data. In general, the proposed food loss estimates for individual foods indicate substantial differences from the currently used estimates. Although some estimates indicate smaller loss percentages than the currently used estimates, many are larger. Overall, if the proposed loss estimates are used in the ERS loss-adjusted series, the average American would consume 17.3 pounds less each year, or 41.9 fewer calories per day, than suggested by the currently used loss estimates.

  • Cow-Calf Beef Production in Mexico

    LDPM-196-01, November 18, 2010

    This report characterizes Mexican beef cow-calf production systems in the context of the many issues affecting Mexican beef and cattle markets, including geo-climatic factors, disease and pest challenges, patterns of landownership, changes in export regions, and changes in domestic consumption as they relate to cow-calf production.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    Indicators tables from the September 2010 issue of Amber Waves magazine.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    Selected statistics on agriculture and trade, diet and health, natural resources, and rural America.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2019

    OCE-2010-1, February 11, 2010

    This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2019. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Ethanol and a Changing Agricultural Landscape

    ERR-86, November 18, 2009

    The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 established specific targets for the production of biofuel in the United States. Until advanced technologies become commercially viable, meeting these targets will increase demand for traditional agricultural commodities used to produce ethanol, resulting in land-use, production, and price changes throughout the farm sector. This report summarizes the estimated effects of meeting the EISA targets for 2015 on regional agricultural production and the environment. Meeting EISA targets for ethanol production is estimated to expand U.S. cropped acreage by nearly 5 million acres by 2015, an increase of 1.6 percent over what would otherwise be expected. Much of the growth comes from corn acreage, which increases by 3.5 percent over baseline projections. Water quality and soil carbon will also be affected, in some cases by greater percentages than suggested by changes in the amount of cropped land. The economic and environmental implications of displacing a portion of corn ethanol production with ethanol produced from crop residues are also estimated.

  • 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.

  • What the 2008/2009 World Economic Crisis Means for Global Agricultural Trade

    WRS-0905, August 20, 2009

    The global economic crisis that started in late 2008 has led to a sharp curtailment of international trade, including a short-term decline in the value of global agricultural trade of around 20 percent. After slowing, global agricultural trade will continue to grow in the future. The crisis is leading to a realignment of exchange rates, and the ultimate resolution of the crisis will depend on adjustments in the exchange value of the U.S. dollar. The U.S. agricultural sector would benefit from a depreciating dollar, which results in high export earnings, high agricultural commodity prices, increased production, and increased farm income.

  • U.S. Food Import Patterns, 1998-2007

    FAU-125, August 06, 2009

    Using import data from the U.S. Census Bureau, this study examines patterns of U.S. food imports for fiscal years 1998-2007. Results indicate faster import growth trends for consumer-ready foods, such as fruit, vegetables, meats, seafood, and processed food products. Although the United States imported most bulk food commodities and perishable consumer-ready products, such as fruit and vegetables, from neighboring countries in the Western Hemisphere, it imported processed foods, spices, and other tropical products from more global sources, with rising import shares for many countries in Asia.

  • Russia's Growing Agricultural Imports: Causes and Outlook

    WRS-09-04, May 15, 2009

    During the 2000s, Russian agricultural imports have grown considerably, from $7 billion in 2000 to $33 billion in 2008. This import growth has made Russia the second largest agricultural importer among emerging markets, after China. The main reasons for the import rise are macroeconomic-high growth in Russian gross domestic product, which increases consumer income and purchasing power, and real appreciation of the ruble, which makes imports less expensive vis-a-vis domestically produced goods. The economic crisis that hit Russia (and the world) in autumn 2008 makes the outlook for Russia's agricultural imports uncertain in the short term. However, the Russian economy is expected to stabilize within a year or two, at which time agricultural imports should continue to grow, although at a lower rate than in past years.

  • Feed Outlook: April 2009

    FDS-09D01, April 01, 2009

    The byproducts of making ethanol, sweeteners, syrups, and oils used to be considered less valuable than the primary products. But the increased livestock-feed market for such byproducts in the past few years has switched that perception to one of the ethanol industry making grain-based "co-products" that have market value separate from the primary products. Co-products such as dried distiller's grains, corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal, corn oil, solubles, and brewer's grains have become economically viable components, along with traditional ingredients (such as corn, soybean meal, and urea), in feed rations.

  • Changes in Manure Management in the Hog Sector: 1998-2004

    EIB-50, March 31, 2009

    In recent years, structural changes in the hog sector, including increased farm size and regional shifts in production, have altered manure management practices. Also, changes to the Clean Water Act, State regulations, and increasing local conflicts over air quality issues, including odor, have influenced manure management decisions. This study uses data from two national surveys of hog farmers to examine how hog manure management practices vary with the scale of production and how these practices evolved between 1998 and 2004. Included are the effects of structural changes, recent policies on manure management technologies and practices, the use of nutrient management plans, and manure application rates. The findings suggest that larger hog operations are altering their manure management decisions in response to binding nutrient application constraints, and that environmental policy is contributing to the adoption of conservation compatible manure management practices.

  • The 2008/2009 World Economic Crisis: What It Means for U.S. Agriculture

    WRS-09-02, March 30, 2009

    The world economic crisis that began in 2008 has major consequences for U.S. agriculture. The weakening of global demand because of emerging recessions and declining economic growth result in reduced export demand and lower agricultural commodity prices, compared with those in 2008. These, in turn, reduce U.S. farm income and place downward pressures on farm real estate values. So far, the overall impact on U.S. agriculture is not as severe as on the broader U.S. economy because the record-high agricultural exports, prices, and farm income in 2007 and 2008 put U.S. farmers on solid financial ground. Moreover, the debt equity ratios in agriculture tend to be more conservative than those in most other sectors of the economy. There is much uncertainty concerning the depth and extent of the crisis. The outcomes for U.S. agriculture are dependent on whether or not there is a global realignment of exchange rates to correct current macroeconomic imbalances.

  • Supermarket Loss Estimates for Fresh Fruit, Vegetables, Meat, Poultry, and Seafood and Their Use in the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data

    EIB-44, March 20, 2009

    Using new national estimates of supermarket food loss, ERS updates each fresh fruit, vegetable, meat, and poultry commodity in its Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2018

    OCE-2009-1, February 12, 2009

    This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2018. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Factors Shaping Expanding U.S. Red Meat Trade

    LDPM-175-01, February 10, 2009

    U.S. imports and exports of red meats-beef, pork, lamb, and mutton-have expanded rapidly over the last several decades, linking livestock sectors of the United States to those of several major trading partners. Factors driving this trade growth include not only rising incomes, but also the preference of U.S. and foreign consumers for a greater variety of red meat cuts, facilitated by the expansion of free trade agreements. Changes in currency values, including the recent depreciation of the U.S. dollar against the currencies of key trading partners, have also been important influences in expanding trade in U.S. red meat products. Domestic production continues to provide the main share of beef and pork consumed in the United States, while the share of U.S. lamb consumption from imports has increased significantly. While the red meat (and poultry) markets have been punctuated by animal disease issues over the last few years, the integration of trade is expected to continue.

  • The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture: Scale, Efficiency, and Risks

    EIB-43, January 23, 2009

    ERS details the nature, causes, and effects of structural changes in U.S. livestock production as it shifts to larger, more specialized, and more tightly integrated enterprises.