Publications

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  • Emerging Issues in the U.S. Organic Industry

    EIB-55, June 03, 2009

    Consumer demand for organic products has widened over the last decade. While new producers have emerged to help meet demand, market participants report that a supply squeeze is constraining growth for both individual firms and the organic sector overall. Partly in response to shortages in organic supply, Congress in 2008 included provisions in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (2008 Farm Act) that, for the first time, provide financial support to farmers to convert to organic production. This report examines recent economic research on the adoption of organic farming systems, organic production costs and returns, and market conditions to gain a better understanding of the organic supply squeeze and other emerging issues in this rapidly changing industry.

  • NAFTA at 15: Building on Free Trade

    WRS-09-03, March 31, 2009

    Implementation of the agricultural provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has drawn to a close. In 2008, the last of NAFTA's transitional restrictions governing U.S.-Mexico and Canada-Mexico agricultural trade were removed, concluding a 14-year project in which the member countries systematically dismantled numerous barriers to regional agricultural trade. During the implementation period, the agricultural sectors of Canada, Mexico, and the United States have become much more integrated. Agricultural trade within the free-trade area has grown dramatically, and Canadian and Mexican industries that rely on U.S. agricultural inputs have expanded. U.S. feedstuffs have facilitated a marked increase in Mexican meat production and consumption, and the importance of Canadian and Mexican produce to U.S. fruit and vegetable consumption is growing.

  • Wheat Outlook: March 2009

    WHS-09C01, March 24, 2009

    The recent historic rise in farm input costs and wheat prices has had economic effects on the U.S. wheat sector. A cumulative distribution of forecasted production costs for wheat farms shows that current high (but falling) wheat prices will allow a greater share of producers to cover their production costs in 2008 (90 percent) than in 2004 (82 percent), despite higher input costs in 2008. However, if farm-gate prices for wheat continue to fall into 2009, and if prices for inputs do not drop off similarly, many more wheat producers may find themselves unable to cover production costs and the U.S. wheat sector may see further attrition of planted area.

  • Consumer Preferences Change Wheat Flour Use

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2008

    Between 1997 and 2002, per capita flour use declined with the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets. The industry responded with the introduction of a wide array of new products, to satisfy these new dietary preferences, particularly the increased demand for higher fiber and protein. As a result, 2007 saw a rise in per capita flour use.

  • Global Agricultural Supply and Demand: Factors Contributing to the Recent Increase in Food Commodity Prices

    WRS-0801, July 23, 2008

    World market prices for major food commodities such as grains and vegetable oils have risen sharply to historic highs of more than 60 percent above levels just 2 years ago. Many factors have contributed to the runup in food commodity prices. Some factors reflect trends of slower growth in production and more rapid growth in demand, which have contributed to a tightening of world balances of grains and oilseeds over the last decade. Recent factors that have further tightened world markets include increased global demand for biofuels feedstocks and adverse weather conditions in 2006 and 2007 in some major grain and oilseed producing areas. Other factors that have added to global food commodity price inflation include the declining value of the U.S. dollar, rising energy prices, increasing agricultural costs of production, growing foreign exchange holdings by major food importing countries, and policies adopted recently by some exporting and importing countries to mitigate their own food price inflation.

  • Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption, 1970-2005

    EIB-33, March 28, 2008

    ERS investigates trends in U.S. food consumption from 1970 to 2005. Results suggest many Americans still fall short of Federal dietary recommendations for whole grains, lower fat dairy products, and fruits and vegetables.

  • The 2002 Farm Bill: Provisions and Economic Implications

    AP-022, January 23, 2008

    The Farm Security Act of 2002, which governs Federal farm programs for 2002-07, was signed into law on May 13, 2002. This publication presents an overview of the Act and a side-by-side comparison of 1996-2001 farm legislation and the 2002 Act. For selected programs, information is provided to additional analyses of key changes, program overview, and economic implications.

  • Global Production Shortfalls Bring Record Wheat Prices

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2007

    Weather events, low inventories, and subsequent increased export demand have combined to drive U.S. and world wheat prices to record levels. The underlying market pressures leading to these price levels have been developing gradually with global consumption exceeding production in 7 of the last 8 years.

  • U.S. Agricultural Trade Update-State Exports

    FAU-123, June 29, 2007

    U.S. agricultural exports reached a record in fiscal 2006 at $68.7 billion, some $6.2 billion higher than the record set in fiscal 2005. California, Iowa, Texas, and Illinois continued their reign as top exporting States, while Minnesota dropped to seventh position behind Nebraska and Kansas. North Carolina joined the top 10, displacing North Dakota at the number nine position. Feed grain exports moved ahead of soybean exports, with Iowa and Illinois dominating in those markets. California continued to dominate vegetables, fruits, tree nuts, seeds, and dairy.

  • Ethanol Expansion in the United States: How Will the Agricultural Sector Adjust?

    FDS-07D-01, May 18, 2007

    A large expansion in ethanol production is underway in the United States. Cellulosic sources of feedstocks for ethanol production hold some promise for the future, but the primary feedstock in the United States currently is corn. Market adjustments to this increased demand extend well beyond the corn sector to supply and demand for other crops, such as soybeans and cotton, as well as to U.S. livestock industries. USDA's long-term projections, augmented by farmers' planting intentions for 2007, are used to illustrate anticipated changes in the agricultural sector.

  • Indian Wheat and Rice Sector Policies and the Implications of Reform

    ERR-41, May 03, 2007

    The pronounced market cycles and declines in per capita consumption of India's major food staples, as well as budgetary concerns, are creating pressure for Indian policymakers to adjust longstanding policies.

  • NAFTA at 13: Implementation Nears Completion

    WRS-0701, March 29, 2007

    Implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is drawing to a close. In 2008, the last of NAFTA's transitional restrictions governing U.S.-Mexico and Canada-Mexico agricultural trade will be removed, concluding a 14-year project in which the member countries systematically dismantled numerous barriers to regional agricultural trade. During the implementation period, the agricultural sectors of Canada, Mexico, and the United States have become much more integrated. Agricultural trade within the free-trade area has grown dramatically, and Canadian and Mexican industries that rely on U.S. agricultural inputs have expanded. U.S. feedstuffs have facilitated a marked increase in Mexican meat production and consumption, and the importance of Canadian and Mexican produce to U.S. fruit and vegetable consumption is growing.

  • The Changing Face of the U.S. Grain System

    ERR-35, February 28, 2007

    Specialty grains coming onto the market (e.g., fiber-enriched wheat) are requiring adjustments in the marketing system, including information documentation and management, in order to preserve their added value or prevent accidental commingling with standard grains.

  • Valuing Counter-Cyclical Payments: Implications for Producer Risk Management and Program Administration

    ERR-39, February 22, 2007

    Counter-cyclical payments supplement incomes of eligible producers enrolled in commodity programs. ERS developed a computer program that improved upon USDA's method of estimating payment rates and that producers and forecasters can use.

  • Possible Implications for U.S. Agriculture From Adoption of Select Dietary Guidelines

    ERR-31, November 20, 2006

    To help Americans meet nutritional requirements while staying within caloric recommendations, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products. This report provides one view of the potential implications for U.S. agriculture if Americans changed their current consumption patterns to meet some of those guidelines. For Americans to meet the fruit, vegetable, and whole-grain recommendations, domestic crop acreage would need to increase by an estimated 7.4 million harvested acres, or 1.7 percent of total U.S. cropland in 2002. To meet the dairy guidelines, consumption of milk and milk products would have to increase by 66 percent; an increase of that magnitude would likely require an increase in the number of dairy cows as well as increased feed grains and, possibly, increased acreage devoted to dairy production.

  • Specialized Wheat Farms Earn Less than Other Farms

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2006

    The U.S. wheat sector is facing decreased demand as consumer preferences have changed and increased competition in export markets. Specialized wheat farms--farms that depend upon wheat for over half of their receipts--are concentrated in the Great Plains and the Pacific Northwest and account for over 40 percent of total wheat production. The long-term viability of specialized wheat farms depends heavily on government payments. Without government payments, fewer than 20 percent of the specialized wheat farms would have had farm revenue greater than economic costs. With government payments, nearly a third of the farms were financially viable.

  • Effect of Food Industry Mergers and Acquisitions on Employment and Wages

    ERR-13, December 09, 2005

    Empirical analysis of mergers and acquisitions in eight important food industries suggests that workers in acquired plants realized modest increases in employment and wages relative to other workers. Results also show that mergers and acquisitions reduced the likelihood of plant closures while high relative labor costs encouraged plant shutdowns. These results differ from commonly held views that mergers and acquisitions lead to fewer jobs, wage cuts, and plant shutdowns.

  • Will 2005 Be the Year of the Whole Grain?

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    The 2005 Dietary Guidelines encourage all Americans over age 2 to eat roughly half of their recommended 5 to 10 daily servings of grains, depending on calorie needs. The goal of this new recommendation is to improve Americans' health by raising awareness of whole grains and their role in nutritious diets. The Guidelines could also have big impacts on farmers and farm production.

  • Will Hard White Wheat Become a Sustainable Wheat Class?

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2005

    Hard white winter wheat has attracted considerable interest among producers because of its unique end-use characteristics. In anticipation of growing demand in the Asian market, U.S. producers increased plantings dramatically. But future expansion and HWW’s eventual status as a separate wheat class is in some doubt as a result of its susceptibility to sprout damage.

  • Taxes on Imports Subsidize Wheat Production in Japan

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2005

    Despite high costs and poor milling quality, tens of thousands of Japan's farms grow wheat, usually on small fields, and production is rising. Farmers receive high prices for wheat because of government subsidies that are financed by import taxes. The result is that millers, processors, retailers, and consumers pay high prices.