Publications

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  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2004

    Indicators behind the data - November 2004

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2004

    Indicators behind the data - September 2004

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2005

    Indicators: Behind the Data - November 2005

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2003

    Indicators behind the data - June 2003

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2004

    Indicators behind the data - June 2004

  • Behind the Data

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2003

    Indicators: Behind the Data

  • Behind the Data: Developing a County-Level Measure of Urban Influence

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2004

    ERS's 2003 Urban Influence Codes divide the 3,141 counties, county equivalents, and independent cities in the United States into 12 groups.

  • Behind the Data: Estimating Per Capita Domestic Use of Head Lettuce

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Methodology behind estimates of U.S. lettuce consumption

  • Behind the Data: Estimating the Raw-Fiber Equivalent of U.S. Cotton Textile and Apparel Imports

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    The data behind the ERS raw-fiber equivalent estimates come from product-specific shipment volumes collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce. More than 3,000 different textile and apparel products containing cotton are imported by the U.S. annually and are converted to raw-fiber equivalents using factors developed by ERS.

  • Behind the Data: Population Interaction Zones for Agriculture

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    Indicators: Behind the Data - June 2005

  • Behind the Data: Validation Study Tests Accuracy of Homescan Data

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2009

    Nielsen Homescan data provide a wealth of information about household purchasing patterns, allowing researchers to address questions relating to the dynamics of retail food markets. Households participating in the Homescan panel use a scanner to record prices and quantities of food products purchased at a wide variety of stores. ERS and other researchers have used these data to understand consumer purchase behavior. However, some researchers question the credibility of the data since the data are self-recorded and the recording process is time consuming.

  • Benefits of Protecting Rural Water Quality: An Empirical Analysis

    AER-701, January 02, 1995

    Concerns about the impact of farm production on the quality of the Nation's drinking and recreational water resources have risen over the past 10 years. Because point sources of pollution were controlled first, agricultural nonpoint sources have become the Nation's largest remaining single water-quality problem. Both public and private costs of policies that address the conflict between agricultural production and water quality are relevant, but measuring the off-farm benefits and costs of changing water quality is difficult. Many of the values placed on these resources are not measured in traditional ways through market prices. This report explores the use of nonmarket valuation methods to estimate the benefits of protecting or improving rural water quality from agricultural sources of pollution. Two case studies show how these valuation methods can be used to include water-quality benefits estimates in economic analyses of specific policies to prevent or reduce water pollution.

  • Benefits of Safer Drinking Water: The Value of Nitrate Reduction

    AER-752, June 01, 1997

    Nitrates in drinking water, which may come from nitrogen fertilizers applied to crops, are a potential health risk. This report evaluates the potential benefits of reducing human exposure to nitrates in the drinking water supply. In a survey, respondents were asked a series of questions about their willingness to pay for a hypothetical water filter, which would reduce their risk of nitrate exposure. If nitrates in the respondent's drinking water were to exceed the EPA minimum safety standard, they would be willing to pay $45 to $60, per household, per month, to reduce nitrates in their drinking water to the minimum safety standard. There are 2.9 million households in the four regions studied (White River area of Indiana, Central Nebraska, Lower Susquehanna, and Mid-Columbia Basin in Washington). If all households potentially at risk were protected from excessive nitrates in drinking water the estimated benefits would be $350 million.

  • Better Targeting, Better Outcomes

    EB-2, March 14, 2006

    A multitude of design decisions influence the performance of voluntary conservation programs. This Economic Brief is one of a set of five exploring the implications of decisions policymakers and program managers must make about who is eligible to receive payments, how much can be received, for what action, and the means by which applicants are selected. The particular issue addressed here is options for targeting program payments to where they can yield the greatest gain.

  • Beyond Environmental Compliance: Stewardship as Good Business

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2004

    Agricultural producers can benefit economically by voluntarily adopting environmentally beneficial practices. An efficient farm would minimize unnecessary applications of pesticides and fertilizer, enhancing the bottom line as well as minimizing environmental impacts. But additional incentives may exist for farms to invest in environmental management.

  • 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.

  • Bidding Enhances Conservation Program Cost Effectiveness

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2007

    To manage Conservation Program dollars cost-effectively, program managers must motivate farmers to offer to participate and then select those applicants who offer the greatest environmental benefit per dollar spent. Bidding is one way to do that; allowing farmers to "bid" for the activity they will undertake and the level of payment they would receive for it provides program managers with the information they need to compare the costs and benefits of contract offers. This could ensure that final program participants are those who will maximize taxpayers' investment in conservation effort.

  • Bidding Enhances Conservation Program Cost Effectiveness

    Amber Waves, May 01, 2007

    To manage Conservation Program dollars cost-effectively, program managers must motivate farmers to offer to participate and then select those applicants who offer the greatest environmental benefit per dollar spent. Bidding is one way to do that; allowing farmers to "bid" for the activity they will undertake and the level of payment they would receive for it provides program managers with the information they need to compare the costs and benefits of contract offers. This could ensure that final program participants are those who will maximize taxpayers' investment in conservation effort.

  • Biodiesel Development: New Markets for Conventional and Genetically Modified Agricultural Products

    AER-770, September 01, 1998

    With environmental and energy source concerns on the rise, using agricultural fats and oils as fuel in diesel engines has captured increasing attention. Substituting petroleum diesel with biodiesel may reduce air emissions, increase the domestic supply of fuel, and create new markets for farmers. U.S. agricultural fats and oils could support a large amount of biodiesel, but high production costs and competing uses for biodiesel feedstocks will likely prevent mass adoption of biodiesel fuel. Higher-priced niche markets could develop for biodiesels as a result of environmental regulations. Biodiesel has many environmental advantages relative to petroleum diesel, such as lower CO, CO2, SOx, and particulate matter emissions. Enhancing fuel properties by genetically modifying oil crops could improve NOx emissions, cold flow, and oxidative stability, which have been identified as potential problems for biodiesel. Research activities need to be directed toward cost reduction, improving fuel properties, and analyzing the economic effects of biodiesel development on U.S. agriculture.

  • Biofuel Use in International Markets: The Importance of Trade

    EIB-144, September 01, 2015

    The U.S. has emerged as a major exporter of biofuels, yet it still imports biofuels in order to meet government mandates. Several other countries have emerged as major exporters, and some have taken steps to restrict biofuel trade.