Publications

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  • Peanut Outlook: Impacts of the 2008-09 Foodborne Illness Outbreak Linked to Salmonella in Peanuts

    OCS-10A-01, February 01, 2010

    The 2009 foodborne illness outbreak linked to Salmonella in peanut products resulted in one of the largest food safety recalls ever in the United States. The source of the outbreak handled a small share of the U.S. peanut supply, but the scope of the recalls was magnified because the peanut products were used as ingredients in more than 3,900 products. Consumer purchases of peanut-containing products initially slowed during the recalls, but retail purchases soon returned to normal and peanut processing held steady. The recalls do not appear to have had a lasting impact on peanut demand and production.

  • Policy Reform in the Tobacco Industry: Producers Adapt to a Changing Market

    EIB-77, May 26, 2011

    ERS analyzes tobacco producers' adjustments in production, investment, labor requirements, and contracting practices following elimination of tobacco quotas and tobacco price supports.

  • Possible Economic Consequences of Reverting to Permanent Legislation or Eliminating Price and Income Supports

    AER-526, January 01, 1985

    If the agricultural legislation expiring in 1985 is not replaced, farm price and income supports will revert from the programs provided for in the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981 and subsequent legislation to the programs provided for in the permanent support statutes. Reverting to the permanent support programs, dating back in some cases to the 1930s, would raise price and income support levels significantly and greatly reduce the role of market forces in determining farm returns. Conversely, if all price and income supports were eliminated in 1985, Government intervention in the market would end and supply and demand forces would determine farm returns. Adopting either of these two outerbound policy alternatives would have significant and far-reaching impacts on farm operations, the agribusiness sector, the general economy, and ultimately the world market for farm products.

  • Potential Farm-Level Effects of Eliminating Direct Payments

    EIB-103, November 16, 2012

    A number of Farm Act proposals call for ending the direct payment program. ERS analysis suggests that for the majority of farms receiving direct payments, this would not result in substantial decline in financial well-being.

  • Potential Implications of Health Care Reform for Farm Families

    Amber Waves, April 06, 2015

    The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) requires most U.S. citizens and legal residents to obtain health insurance coverage. Farm households with incomes between 138 percent and 400 percent of the FPL comprise 37 percent of the 1.61 million farm families. Some in this group are eligible for premium tax credits on a sliding scale.

  • Precision Agriculture Technologies and Factors Affecting Their Adoption

    Amber Waves, December 05, 2016

    Three common precision agricultural information technologies are global positioning system (GPS) guidance systems, GPS yield and soil monitors/maps, and variable-rate input application technologies (VRT). Research shows these technologies had similar positive, but small, impacts on corn profits of between 1 and 3 percent in 2010.

  • Private Investment in Agricultural Research and International Technology Transfer in Asia

    AER-805, November 06, 2001

    This report provides original estimates of private sector agricultural research and development efforts in Asia during the 1990s. The report examines seven Asia countries (India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and China). The examination provides an assessment of the trends in private sector R&D developments in the agricultural inputs industries in each country.

  • Producers Rely on Contracts To Manage Increased Price Risks

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2008

    U.S. agricultural production continues to shift away from cash markets and toward greater use of contracts. According to a new ERS study, agricultural contracts covered 41 percent of the value of agricultural production in 2005, up from 36 percent in 2001 and 28 percent in 1991.

  • Production Costs Critical to Farming Decisions

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    This article outlines the relevance of production costs - both operating and total (including capital costs) - in farmers' decisions about production levels and mix, and about exit from the sector.

  • Productivity Drives Growth in U.S. Agriculture

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2007

    U.S. agriculture relied entirely on growth in total factor productivity (TFP) rather than input accumulation to expand output between 1948 and 2004. TFP growth in agriculture accounted for 12 percent of all TFP growth in the U.S. private economy between 1960 and 2004.

  • Productivity Growth Is Still the Major Driver in Growing U.S. Agricultural Output

    Amber Waves, September 06, 2016

    To monitor the U.S. farm sector’s performance, ERS develops total factor productivity (TFP) statistics measured as total agricultural output per unit of aggregate input, with each adjusted for price changes. Total factor productivity measures changes in the efficiency with which inputs are transformed into output.

  • Productivity Growth Slows for Specialized Hog Finishing Operations

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2014

    U.S. hog farm numbers dropped by 70 percent over 1991-2009 while hog inventories remained stable. The result has been an industry with larger hog enterprises, increased specialization in a single phase of production, greater reliance on purchased rather than homegrown feed, and greater use of production contracts. This structural change has led to higher productivity and lower pork prices.

  • Profile of Hired Farmworkers, 1998 Annual Averages

    AER-790, November 28, 2000

    An average of 875,000 persons 15 years of age and older did hired farmwork each week as their primary job in 1998. An additional 63,000 people did hired farmwork each week as their secondary job. Hired farmworkers were more likely than the typical U.S. wage and salary worker to be male, Hispanic, younger, less educated, never married, and not U.S. citizens. The West (42 percent) and South (31.4 percent) census regions accounted for almost three-fourths of the hired farmworkers. The rate of unemployment in the hired farm labor force (11.8 percent) was more than double that (4.5 percent) for all wage and salary workers. Hired farmworkers were also more likely to be paid less than the minimum wage, and to be low-wage workers. Consequently, their median weekly earnings continued to be much lower than those of all wage and salary workers. However, hired farmworkers' real median weekly earnings increased 4 percent between 1990 and 1998, while earnings for all wage and salary workers increased only 2 percent. This report examines regional and structural patterns of farm labor use, and demographic and employment characteristics of hired farmworkers, using data from the 1997 Census of Agriculture and the 1998 Current Population Survey (CPS) earnings microdata file.

  • Profit Margin Increases With Farm Size

    Amber Waves, February 02, 2015

    Given the broad USDA definition of a farm, most U.S. farms are not profitable as ongoing businesses. One commonly used measure of profitability is the farm’s operating profit margin (OPM), the ratio of operating profit to gross farm income.

  • Profits, Costs, and the Changing Structure of Dairy Farming

    ERR-47, September 04, 2007

    ERS examines economic factors in the dramatic decline in the number of dairy farms over the past 15 years and the increasing concentration in the industry.

  • Program Provisions for Program Crops: A Database for 1961-90

    AGES-9010, March 01, 1990

    This report opens with a look at legislation which provided the foundation for commodity support programs and highlights legislation which revised and supplemented the basic structure of these programs. However, the main body of this report is devoted to program provisions for 1961-90 crops of corn, sorghum, barley, oats, wheat, rice, upland cotton, and extra-long staple cotton which are presented in tables with extensive footnotes clarifying the program specifics.

  • Promising Economic Outlook for Agricultural Sector Continues in 2007

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2007

    Promising Economic Outlook for Agricultural Sector Continues in 2007

  • R&D and Productivity Lag in Food Manufacturing

    Amber Waves, June 05, 2012

    R&D expenditures by the global food manufacturing industry reached $11.5 billion in 2007, with the U.S. accounting for $3.1 billion of the total. However, research spending relative to the value of production in U.S. food manufacturing is relatively low, at about 1.5 percent, compared with 10 percent for total U.S. manufacturing.

  • Record Levels of Cash Receipts and Income Forecast in 2008

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2008

    The 2008 outlook for commodity market receipts, production expenses, and government payments translates into record amounts of all three measures of farm sector income-net value added, net farm income, and net cash income. Production and sales of feed grains and oilseeds will contribute significantly to record-level crop receipts in 2008. Total agricultural production expenses are forecast to increase 8.6 percent to $279.2 billion, largely due to higher feed and fertilizer costs. This article presents the latest farm income forecasts from ERS.

  • Removal of Government Controls Opens Peanut and Tobacco Sectors to Market Forces

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    Farm legislation in the early 2000s eliminated longstanding supply controls and geographic restrictions on the production of peanuts and tobacco. The ensuing consolidation produced fewer but larger farms for each crop that are more efficient and responsive to market developments.