Publications

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  • 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.

  • Supermarket Loss Estimates for Fresh Fruit, Vegetables, Meat, Poultry, and Seafood and Their Use in the ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data

    EIB-44, March 20, 2009

    Using new national estimates of supermarket food loss, ERS updates each fresh fruit, vegetable, meat, and poultry commodity in its Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series.

  • Fiber Use for Textiles and China's Cotton Textile Exports

    CWS-08I-01, March 03, 2009

    New information about the role of recycling in the textile industry and updated estimates of efficiency in spinning lower estimates of the volume of cotton fiber exported by China in the form of textiles from those of an earlier study. China's textile industry not only meets domestic demand of the world's most populous country but is also the world's largest exporter. Consequently, China is the world's largest consumer and importer of cotton, but information about China's cotton consumption is incomplete. This analysis of China's textile trade offers important insights into trends in China's cotton use and imports. The revised textile trade estimates have implications for the outlook for China's cotton consumption and imports, which this study demonstrates with an econometric model of China's textile trade.

  • Grain Prices Impact Entire Livestock Production Cycle

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    Between 2006 and 2008, feed costs nearly doubled and are expected to result in lower meat and dairy production in 2009. Feed prices have declined since mid-2008 and are expected to be lower in 2009, but the biological timeline of livestock production means meat producers are limited in what they can do in the short run to change production. Changes in U.S. livestock-industry structure and the use of alternative feeds, such as byproducts from ethanol production, will help reduce the impact of higher input costs on livestock producers.

  • Growing Crops for Biofuels Has Spillover Effects

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    Federal mandates for biofuel production promote expanded crop acreage which can shift cropping patterns and affect livestock production due to higher prices for corn and other grain crops. An increase in the extent and intensity of input use and agricultural land in production increases the potential for environmental degradation. Research on crop productivity and conversion efficiency, as well as conservation practices like no-till and buffer strips, could lessen the environmental impacts of biofuels.

  • Agricultural Commodity Price Spikes in the 1970s and 1990s: Valuable Lessons for Today

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    The rapid increase in crop prices between 2006 and mid-2008, while unprecedented in magnitude, was not unique. Two other periods of major rapid runups in prices occurred in 1971-74 and 1994-96. Each price surge resulted from a combination of factors, including depreciation of the U.S. dollar, strong worldwide demand for agricultural products, supply shocks, and policy responses by major trading countries. In the past, market adjustments eventually brought prices back down. Similarly, the high prices seen in 2008 have dropped to lower levels; however, these adjustments are occurring in a more volatile environment.

  • Factors Contributing to the Recent Increase in U.S. Fertilizer Prices, 2002-08

    AR-33, February 13, 2009

    U.S. prices of fertilizer nutrients began to rise steadily in 2002 and increased sharply to historic highs in 2008 due to the combined effects of a number of domestic and global long- and shortrun supply and demand factors. From 2007 to 2008, spring nitrogen prices increased by a third, phosphate prices nearly doubled, and potash prices doubled. The price spike in 2008 reflects low inventories at the beginning of 2008 combined with the inability of the U.S. fertilizer industry to quickly adjust to surging demand or sharp declines in international supply. Declining fertilizer demand, disruption in fall applications, increased fertilizer imports (July to August), and tightening credit markets for fertilizer purchases contributed to the decline of fertilizer prices in late 2008. The prospect for strong fertilizer demand in early 2009, high raw material costs for the manufacture of fertilizers, production cutbacks, and decreasing supplies from fertilizer imports, however, could put upward pressure on U.S. fertilizer prices in spring 2009.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2018

    OCE-2009-1, February 12, 2009

    This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2018. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Declining Orange Consumption in Japan: Generational Changes or Something Else?

    ERR-71, February 05, 2009

    The aging of Japan's population only partially explains the downward trend in orange consumption, and the negative trend could continue.

  • The Roles of Economists in the U.S. Department of Agriculture

    AP-031, January 02, 2009

    Among the many responsibilities of USDA are implementing the Food Stamp Program and other food and nutrition assistance programs; managing Federal forest land; implementing standards of humane care and treatment of animals; providing incentives for adopting wildlife habitat enhancements and other conservation practices; participating in trade negotiations; ensuring the safety of meat, poultry, and eggs; providing funds for rural business development; and implementing farm programs legislated by Congress. The Department has a broad mandate, and virtually everything with which it is charged has economic dimensions. It is not surprising, then, that USDA employs over 800 economists across 16 of its agencies.

  • New Market Realities Affect Crop Program Choices

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2008

    Even as farmers enjoy record high commodity prices and income, they face an array of risks, including high production costs and greater price volatility. Rising crop prices mean increased Federal crop insurance program payments but reduce the likelihood commodity program payments based on fixed price targets. The new Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program offers revenue protection but participating farmers must forgo some benefits of traditional commodity programs.

  • Canned Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in the United States: A Report to the United States Congress

    AP-032, September 12, 2008

    In response to Senate Report 110-134, accompanying S. 1859, the 2008 the Agriculture Appropriations Bill, ERS researchers published a report about consumer perceptions and consumption of canned fruits and vegetables using USDA's food consumption survey data, Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey data, and the ERS Food Availability Data System. If current trends prevail, total fruit and vegetable availability will continue to increase but canned fruits and vegetables will account for a declining share of that total. However, there are several divergent and offsetting forces that make it difficult to predict the future demand for canned produce.

  • Vegetables and Melons Outlook: September 2009

    VGS-328-01, September 09, 2008

    Vegetable and melon production requires a substantial investment in production inputs. Using data from USDA's Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), this article presents and explores the major expense components of specialized U.S. and regional vegetable and melon farms during 1998-2006. Total cash expenses per acre for specialized U.S. vegetable and melon farms increased 32 percent between 1998-2000 and 2004-06 and were highest in the West and lowest in the Midwest. Labor accounted for 30 percent of U.S. cash expenses, followed by fertilizer and agricultural chemicals at 18 percent.

  • 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.

  • Sugar and Sweetners Outlook: May 2008

    SSSM-252, May 27, 2008

    At the end of March 2008, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) projected sugar beet acreage intentions for the 2008 crop year at 1.132 million acres, about 10.9 percent lower than 2007 crop year area planted. Assuming normal sucrose levels and continued improvement in productivity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects fiscal year (FY) 2009 national beet sugar production at 4.400 million short tons, raw value (STRV), about 410,000 STRV less than the projection for FY 2008 (4.810 million STRV).

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2008

    Indicators tables from the April 2008 issue of Amber Waves.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2008

    Research area charts from the April 2008 issue of Amber Waves.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2017

    OCE-2008-1, February 12, 2008

    This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2017. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2008

    Amber Waves presents the broad scope of ERS's research and analysis. The magazine covers the economics of agriculture, food and nutrition, the food industry, trade, rural America, and farm-related environmental topics.

  • Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook: January 2008

    SSSM-251, January 29, 2008

    USDA requires accurate, unbiased sugar production forecasts for making the Department's monthly market forecast used to mange the domestic sugar program. Sugar production forecasts from sugar beet and sugarcane processors are compiled by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for publication in the World Agricultural Outlook Board's World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) for sugar.