Publications

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  • Barley: Background For 1990 Farm Legislation

    AGES-8965, December 01, 1989

    This report address considerations in the 1990 farm bill debate for barley, including market conditions, policy proposals, trade agreements, and the interactions between policy and markets for selected commodities. Barley is the third leading feed grain grown in the United States. Production is concentrated in the Northern Plains and Pacific regions. Barley is mainly used for livestock feed and the manufacture of malt beverages. Feed use often accounts for well over half of total use. Barley is the most important grain product used by brewers. Exports are much smaller than domestic use and are highly variable. Barley yields have steadily risen, but production costs have also increased relative to returns. Government loan rates and target prices for barley are based on those for corn. Returns above cash expenses in recent years were considerably lower than during 1975-80. Returns have increased gradually since 1986. Government payments to barley growers, while relatively small compared with corn, have been a significant portion of barley net returns in recent years.

  • Baselines in Environmental Markets: Tradeoffs Between Cost and Additionality

    EB-18, February 14, 2012

    Markets for farm-based environmental services are designed to allow farmers to sell "credits" for environmental improvements in water quality, carbon sequestration, wetlands restoration, and other areas. These markets use an environmental baseline to help determine whether proposed improvements qualify for market credits, and, if so, the number that should be awarded. Selection of a baseline is often a critical and contentious element in the design of environmental service markets. Due to the complexity and costs associated with defining, measuring, and verifying environmental baseline levels across heterogeneous landscapes, program managers may face a tradeoff between the precision with which changes in environmental performance can be estimated and the cost of refining those estimates. This brief focuses on the issues involved in measuring baselines, the strengths and weaknesses of alternative types of baselines, and the tradeoffs involved when selecting a baseline to measure environmental improvement.

  • Baselines--Key to the Costs and Benefits of Environmental Markets

    Amber Waves, September 20, 2012

    Recently, markets have been developed that could allow farmers to generate and sell environmental credits when they adopt farming practices that improve the environment. Environmental markets use baselines to determine whether proposed improvements qualify for marketable credits, and setting baseline emissions levels is often a contentious element of market design.

  • Beef Cow-Calf Production a Lifestyle Choice Among Many Farmers

    Amber Waves, June 16, 2011

    The beef cow-calf industry is characterized by a large number of small farms on which beef cattle production is a secondary source of farm household income. This suggests that beef cow-calf production as a lifestyle choice is at least as important as earning a profit on many farms.

  • Beef Production, Markets, and Trade in Argentina and Uruguay: An Overview

    LDPM-15901, September 24, 2007

    Argentina and Uruguay (A/U) are significant beef exporters and among the world's greatest consumers of beef on a per capita basis. Between 13 and 20 percent of U.S. beef imports, on a tonnage basis, come from these two countries annually, and it is mostly grass-fed beef. Currently, only 10-20 percent of A/U beef production involves a feedlot. Both countries have recently implemented national animal identification systems, and their export slaughter facilities are up to the World Trade Organization's sanitary standards. Both countries are considered free from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) by virtue of their pasture-based production technologies, but wrestle with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Argentine cattle/beef markets and trade are clearly and significantly affected by Government interventions in the domestic market. In contrast, Uruguay focuses on exporting beef.

  • Beef and Pork Byproducts: Enhancing the U.S. Meat Industry’s Bottom Line

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2011

    Byproducts include virtually all parts of the live animal that are not part of the dressed carcasses. Byproducts account for more than 10 percent of the value of cattle and more than 6 percent of the value of hogs.

  • 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.

  • Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

    EIB-53, May 15, 2009

    Beginning farmers and ranchers accounted for 10 percent of the sector's total value of production in 2007. ERS provides an overview of their characteristics and the farm businesses they operate.

  • Beginning Farmers and Ranchers and the Agricultural Act of 2014

    Amber Waves, June 02, 2014

    The Agricultural Act of 2014 continues the trend of assisting beginning farmers, and includes increased funding for beginning farmer development. Read about it in the June issue of Amber Waves magazine.

  • Beginning Farmers and Ranchers at a Glance

    EB-22, January 30, 2013

    In 2011, beginning farms and ranches accounted for 22 percent of the 2 million U.S. family farms and 10 percent of the value of agricultural production by family farms. How do beginning farmers and ranchers compare to established ones?

  • Behavioral Economic Concepts To Encourage Healthy Eating in School Cafeterias: Experiments and Lessons From College Students

    ERR-68, December 15, 2008

    ERS describes an experiment in a college cafeteria to assess how various payment options and menu selection methods affect food choices.

  • Behind The Data

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2006

    Under the Agreement on Agriculture, World Trade Organization (WTO) members agreed to rules governing the type and level of agricultural policies they may use. These rules fall under three areas: domestic support (price support and producer subsidies), export subsidies, and market access (tariffs and tariff-rate quotas).

  • Behind The Data

    Amber Waves, July 01, 2006

    Measuring cropland area is essential for assessing the economic and environmental performance of U.S. agriculture. ERS tracks cropland in its annual “cropland used for crops” data series, which began in 1910. Cropland used for crops is the sum of cropland harvested, crop failure, and summer fallow.

  • Behind The Data

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2006

    USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) uses the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) to evaluate and rank land offered for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The EBI aggregates different environmental objectives and a cost objective into a single number.

  • Behind The Data

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2006

    The ERS per capita food availability data are a historical series that measure the national food supply of several hundred foods. It is the only source of time series data on food availability in the country.

  • Behind The Data

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2006

    Indicators behind the data - February 2006

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2005

    Indicators: Behind the Data - February 2005

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    Indicators: Behind the Data - February 2004

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    Indicators behind the data - September 2003

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2005

    Indicators: Behind the Data - April 2005