Publications

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  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2007

    ERS ARMS data allow detailed comparisons of a number of characteristics of farms specializing in wheat, corn, cotton, and fruit and vegetable production. For example, wheat and cotton farms tend to be the largest and are also the least specialized, planting less than 50 percent of their acres to their main crop. Fruit and vegetable farms are the smallest and also derived the highest share of their income from off-farm activities.

  • Feed Grains Backgrounder

    FDS-07C01, March 30, 2007

    The U.S. feed grain sector, largest of the major U.S. field crops, faces unprecedented demand conditions. The size and speed of the expanding use of corn by the ethanol industry is raising widespread issues throughout U.S. agriculture. Debate is ongoing over the use of grain for fuel instead of for food or feed and the adequacy of future grain supplies. Increased productivity (yield) and additional area from land planted to competing crops, land enrolled in conservation programs, or idled land is expected to provide an increased supply of feed grains. The outlook is for higher feed grain prices, in part, as a result of renewable energy policies and high energy prices, with feed grain prices rising above farm program support levels. During the ongoing farm policy debate, the U.S. feed grain sector faces uncertainty about the future level and type of government support.

  • Cotton Backgrounder

    CWS-07B01, March 30, 2007

    U.S. cotton growers, like producers of other agricultural commodities in recent years, have confronted pressures from market forces and the impacts of policy developments, both domestic and international. Most notably, the ending of the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA) sent a ripple effect throughout the global cotton industry. While adjustments in the textile and apparel sectors of many countries, including the United States, continue to evolve, dramatic changes have already been seen for some. World cotton mill use has accelerated along with economic growth since 1999, particularly in China, and U.S. cotton producers have benefited as foreign import demand has reached new heights. Government payments contribute a considerable portion of total revenue to the cotton sector, and adjustments to this program or any other commodity program in the 2007 farm legislation will be driven by factors such as domestic market conditions, multilateral trade negotiations, and the Federal budget deficit.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2007

    Research area charts from the February 2007 issue of Amber Waves

  • Promising Economic Outlook for Agricultural Sector Continues in 2007

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2007

    Promising Economic Outlook for Agricultural Sector Continues in 2007

  • In The Long Run

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2007

    Government transfer payments to individuals increased steadily in both metro and nonmetro areas between 1969 and 2004.

  • 2006 Farm Net Cash Income Expected To Decline Slightly

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2007

    This article provides a summary of updated forecasts of value-added and various income measures from production activities in 2006 for the U.S. farm sector, plus the associated forecast of the farm balance sheet. Forecast includes the latest economic information based on crop harvests and livestock production for the 2006 calendar year.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2006

    Research area charts from the November 2006 issue of Amber Waves.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2006

    Indicators tables from the November 2006 issue of Amber Waves.

  • Animal Products Markets in 2005 and Forecasts for 2006

    LDPM-14601, September 08, 2006

    Uncertainty continues to shape the forecasts for animal products markets in 2006. Potential and actual animal disease outbreaks, consumer sensitivities, volatile exchange rates, and growing competition from producers in other countries cloud U.S. trade prospects for major meats. Loss of U.S. trade market share, partly caused by disease outbreaks and related trade restrictions that have affected animal product exports since 2003, compounds the problem. The outlook for U.S. meat, poultry, and dairy markets in 2006 depends on how well domestic production adjusts to changes in input costs, the effect of exchange rates on trade, the continuing effects of disease and trade restrictions on exports, and the increasing competitiveness of emerging animal products exporters.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2006

    Research area charts from the September 2006 issue of Amber Waves.

  • Environmental Effects of Agricultural Land-Use Change: The Role of Economics and Policy

    ERR-25, August 31, 2006

    This report examines evidence on the relationship between agricultural land-use changes, soil productivity, and indicators of environmental sensitivity. If cropland that shifts in and out of production is less productive and more environmentally sensitive than other cropland, policy-induced changes in land use could have production effects that are smaller-and environmental impacts that are greater-than anticipated. To illustrate this possibility, this report examines environmental outcomes stemming from land-use conversion caused by two agricultural programs that others have identified as potentially having important influences on land use and environmental quality: Federal crop insurance subsidies and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Nation's largest cropland retirement program.

  • Tobacco Production Costs and Returns in 2004

    TBS-26001, August 04, 2006

    This study focuses on factors that led to changes in the estimated residual returns to management and risk from tobacco production in 2003-04. Residual returns per acre for flue-cured tobacco declined less than those for burley tobacco in 2004 because yield increases for flue-cured tobacco helped to offset increases in economic costs. Residual returns above economic costs were calculated using data from the last tobacco surveys, conducted in 1995 for burley tobacco and 1996 for flue-cured tobacco, and updated with 2004 data on prices, yields, marketing costs, and quota levels.

  • Dairy Backgrounder

    LDPM-14501, July 24, 2006

    Over time, shifts in consumer demands, in the location and structure of milk production, in industry concentration, in international markets, and in trade agreements have dramatically altered the U.S. dairy industry and changed the context for dairy policies and the sector as a whole. In the future, the U.S. dairy industry is likely to become more fully integrated with international markets. At the same time, dairy products such as fluid milk, butter, and cheese are likely to continue to be increasingly used as ingredients for restaurants and in processed foods while still being sold in their traditional forms.

  • Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2006 Edition

    EIB-16, July 21, 2006

    These chapters describe trends in resources used in and affected by agricultural production, as well as the economic conditions and policies that influence agricultural resource use and its environmental impacts. Each of the 28 chapters provides a concise overview of a specific topic with links to sources of additional information. Chapters are available in HTML and pdf formats.

  • Understanding U.S. Farm Exits

    ERR-21, June 30, 2006

    The rate at which U.S. farms go out of business, or exit farming, is about 9 or 10 percent per year, comparable to exit rates for nonfarm small businesses in the United States. U.S. farms have not disappeared because the rate of entry into farming is nearly as high as the exit rate. The relatively stable farm count since the 1970s reflects exits and entries essentially in balance. The probability of exit is higher for recent entrants than for older, more established farms. Farms operated by Blacks are more likely to exit than those operated by Whites, but the gap between Black and White exit probabilities has declined substantially since the 1980s. Exit probabilities differ by specialization, with beef farms less likely to exit than cash grain or hog farms.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2006

    Farm, Rural, Natural Resources and Food and Fiber Sector Indicators section - April 2006

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2006

    Research area charts from the June 2006 issue of Amber Waves.

  • In The Long Run

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2006

    Government payments peaked twice at $24 billion, measured in 2003 dollars. The first peak occurred in 1987, just after the end of the farm financial crisis. The second peak occurred in 2000, due to payments enacted by Congress in response to falling export demand and regional crop failures. Payments also spiked at $14 billion in 1993, due largely to high feed grain production and disaster payments for droughts and floods.

  • America's Diverse Family Farms: Structure and Finances

    EIB-13, May 15, 2006

    American farms vary widely in size and other characteristics, but farming is still an industry of family businesses. Ninety-eight percent of farms are family farms, and they account for 86 percent of farm production. Very small farms are growing in number, and small family farms continue to own most farmland. But production is shifting toward very large family farms. Because small-farm households receive most of their income from off-farm work, general economic policies-such as tax policy or economic development policy-can be as important to them as traditional farm policy.