Publications

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  • Agriculture in Brazil and Argentina: Developments and Prospects for Major Field Crops

    WRS-013, December 28, 2001

    This report identifies key factors underlying the agricultural productivity growth and enhanced international competitiveness of Brazil and Argentina in the past decade. Economic and policy reforms, infrastructure development, and enhanced use of agricultural inputs that drove output growth during the 1990s are discussed. This report also compares Brazilian, Argentine, and U.S. soybean production costs and evaluates the combined impact of production, marketing, and transportation costs on the overall export competitiveness of each country's soybean producers. Finally, the outlook for continued growth in output and exports of key commodities is assessed.

  • The Soybean Processing Decision

    TB-1897, December 04, 2001

    The gross soybean processing margin (the gross return per bushel of soybeans processed) is the main decision variable that processors use in deciding when and if to make binding commitments to process soybeans on future dates. Understanding how processors choose processing margins for future processing dates from among those available on successive days may help to resolve the ongoing concern about the level of competitiveness in processing agricultural commodities. Processing returns are treated as being equivalent to the returns to a call option. This approach provides the opportunity to simulate processor choice of processing margin by evaluating the incentive of waiting for a larger processing margin versus the incentive of locking in the currently available processing margin for a future date. The approach captures the irreversibility of the decision to process soybeans. Once the decision is made to process soybeans it cannot be economically reversed because of the contractual penalties involved. Processing margins selected using evaluations of these incentives explained variation in soybean crush, whereas spot margins for the corresponding processing dates did not.

  • Soybeans: Background and Issues for Farm Legislation

    OCS-0701-01, August 01, 2001

    Congress is considering new farm legislation to replace the expiring Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996. As background for these deliberations, this report provides information on supply, demand, and prices in the U.S. soybean sector. Domestic policy effects on U.S. exports and trade agreements are also evaluated because international trade is an important component of soybean demand. A description of the major features of the current soybean program is included, as well as a discussion of some proposed policy changes.

  • 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.

  • Commodity Program Provisions Under the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977

    AER-389, October 01, 1997

    Commodity program provisions of the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 are summarized. Price support, loan level, disaster payment, program acreage, and other provisions of the legislation are discussed for wheat and feed grains, cotton, rice, peanuts, soybeans, sugar, dairy products, and wool and mohair. Miscellaneous provisions and those applying to grain reserves and to the beekeeper indemnity program are also summarized.

  • Economic Implications of Cleaning Soybeans in the United States

    AER-737, September 23, 1996

    Overall, the costs of delivering cleaner soybeans on a universal basis exceed domestic benefits. The cost of cleaning export soybeans beyond current levels at the least net-cost locations (both river elevators and inland subterminals), at minimum, exceeds domestic benefits by $26 million per year. However, a small percentage of producers could lower soybean foreign material (FM) with no or little additional cost by changing harvesting and handling practices. Most FM originates from the farm. Although soybean cleaning is not common, producers can alter production and harvesting practices to reduce FM, which mainly consists of plant parts, broken beans, weed seed, and dirt. One strategy to address the soybean cleanliness issue is to create incentives for producers to alter production and harvesting practices, such as better weed control and combine adjustment.

  • Oilseeds: Background for 1995 Farm Legislation

    AER-715, May 01, 1995

    This report address considerations in the 1995 farm bill debate for oilseeds, including market conditions, policy proposals, trade agreements, and the interactions between policy and markets for selected commodities. International trade agreements and greater acreage flexibility have improved the outlook for U.S. oilseed production and trade. Issues for 1995 farm legislation that will affect oilseeds will include: setting marketing loans and loan rates; determining payment acres for program crops; extension of acreage-idling policies; resumption of the Export Enhancement Program for vegetable oils; continued funding for the Conservation Reserve Program and other land use policies; and revenue assurance.

  • Program Provisions for Rye, Dry Edible Beans, Oil Crops, Tobacco, Sugar, Honey, Wool, Mohair, Gum Naval Stores, and Dairy Products: A Database for 1961-90

    AGES-9128, June 03, 1991

    This report opens with a look at the legislative authority for commodity support programs. However, the main body of this report is devoted to program provisions for 1961-90 commodities: rye, dry edible beans, oil crops (cottonseed, flaxseed, peanuts, soybeans, and tung nuts), tobacco, sugar beets and sugarcane, honey, wool and mohair, gum naval stores (rosin and crude pine gum), and dairy products. These provisions are presented in the tables.

  • Provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985

    AIB-498, April 01, 1986

    The Food Security Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-198) establishes a comprehensive framework within which the Secretary of Agriculture will administer agriculture and food programs from 1986 through 1990. This report describes the Act's provisions for dairy, wool and mohair, wheat, feed grains, cotton, rice, peanuts, soybeans, and sugar (including income and price supports, disaster payments, and acreage reductions); other general commodity provisions; trade; conservation; credit; research, extension, and teaching; food stamps; and marketings. These provisions are compared with earlier legislation.