Publications

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  • Selected charts from Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials

    AP-062, September 16, 2013

    This collection of nine charts and maps presents essential information on the farm sector, food spending and prices, food security, rural communities, and the interaction of agriculture and natural resources.

  • Selected charts from Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, 2017

    AP-075, April 28, 2017

    This collection of 34 charts and maps presents examples of key statistics on the farm sector, food spending and prices, food security, rural communities, agricultural production and trade, the interaction of agriculture and natural resources, and more found in ERS's regularly updated web product, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials.

  • Share of Farm Businesses Receiving Lease and Royalty Income From Energy Production Varies Across Regions

    Amber Waves, November 07, 2016

    In 2012, 35 percent of active farm and ranch land was in counties overlaying a shale play (shale counties). In 2014, about 6 percent of U.S. farm businesses averaged $56,000 in lease and royalty payments from energy production.

  • Size and Distribution of Market Benefits From Adopting Biotech Crops

    TB-1906, November 03, 2003

    This study estimates the size and distribution of benefits from adopting Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton, herbicide-tolerant cotton, and herbicide-tolerant soybeans in 1997. The stakeholders considered are U.S. farmers, U.S. consumers, biotechnology developers, germplasm suppliers, and producers and consumers in the rest of the world.

  • Small Acreage Farms in the United States

    Amber Waves, May 05, 2014

    According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, approximately 294,000 farms, or 13 percent of all U.S. farms, operated on 10 or fewer acres. Collectively, these small acreage (SA) farms operated only 0.18 percent of all U.S. farmland in 2007, but were responsible for approximately $9 billion in farm sales, or 3 percent of the U.S. total.

  • Small Farms in the United States: Persistence Under Pressure

    EIB-63, February 18, 2010

    ERS documents the changing distribution and character of small farms as ag production becomes more concentrated. Commercially oriented small farms, those accounting for most small-farm production, continue to decline in number in the face of large-farm competition.

  • Solving the Commodity Markets’ Non-Convergence Puzzle

    Amber Waves, August 14, 2013

    From 2005 to 2010, expiring corn, soybeans, and wheat futures contracts routinely settled at prices significantly higher than their cash market counterparts. Findings show that the observed non-convergence was an unintended consequence of market design rather than speculative trading.

  • Structural and Financial Characteristics of U.S. Farms, 1995: 20th Annual Family Farm Report to Congress

    AIB-746, December 01, 1998

    National average statistics related to farm production mask the diversity in the Nation's 2 million farms and the people who operate them. Farms in the United States differ not only by size (sales and acres) and type of production, but also by organizational characteristics (land ownership, legal organization, contracting arrangements) and financial characteristics (debt, assets, income, expenditures). Farm operators and their households vary with respect to demographic characteristics (occupation, age, education), financial characteristics (dependence on farm income, operator/spouse labor allocation), and management characteristics (information sources, business goals).

  • Structural and Financial Characteristics of U.S. Farms: 2001 Family Farm Report

    AIB-768, May 25, 2001

    Family farms vary widely in size and other characteristics, ranging from very small retirement and residential farms to establishments with sales in the millions of dollars. The farm typology developed by the Economic Research Service (ERS) categorizes farms into groups based primarily on occupation of the operator and sales class of the farm. The typology groups reflect operators' expectations from farming, position in the life cycle, and dependence on agriculture. The groups differ in their importance to the farm sector, product specialization, program participation, and dependence on farm income. These (and other) differences are discussed in this report.

  • Structural and Financial Characteristics of U.S. Farms: 2004 Family Farm Report

    AIB-797, March 09, 2005

    This report presents comprehensive information on family and nonfamily farms and important trends in farming, operator household income, farm performance, and contracting. Most farms are family farms. Even the largest farms tend to be family farms. Small family farms account for most of the farms in the U.S. but produce a modest share of farm output. Average farm household income has been at or above the average for all U.S. households in recent years, with farm households receiving most of their income from off-farm sources.

  • Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: 2005 Family Farm Report

    EIB-12, May 15, 2006

    Most farms in the United States-98 percent in 2003-are family farms. They are organized as proprietorships, partnerships, or family corporations. Even the largest farms tend to be family farms. Very large family farms account for a small share of farms but a large-and growing-share of farm sales. Small family farms account for most farms but produce a modest share of farm output. Median income for farm households is 10 percent greater than the median for all U.S. households. Small-farm households also receive substantial off-farm income.

  • Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, 2007 Edition

    EIB-24, June 01, 2007

    U.S. farms are diverse, ranging from small retirement and residential farms to enterprises with annual sales in the millions. Nevertheless, most U.S. farms-98 percent in 2004-are family farms. Even the largest farms tend to be family farms. Large-scale family farms and nonfamily farms account for 10 percent of U.S farms, but 75 percent of the value of production. In contrast, small family farms make up most of the U.S. farm count, produce a modest share of farm output, and receive substantial off-farm income. Many farm households have a large net worth, reflecting the land-intensive nature of farming.

  • Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, 2010 Edition

    EIB-66, July 26, 2010

    Most U.S. farms-98 percent in 2007-are family operations, and even the largest farms are predominantly family run. Large-scale family farms and nonfamily farms account for 12 percent of U.S farms but 84 percent of the value of production. In contrast, small family farms make up most of the U.S. farm count but produce a modest share of farm output. Small farms are less profitable than large-scale farms, on average, and their operator households tend to rely on off-farm income for their livelihood. Generally speaking, farm operator households cannot be characterized as low-income when both farm and off-farm income are considered. Nevertheless, limited-resource farms still exist and account for 3 to 12 percent of family farms, depending on how "limited-resource" is defined.

  • Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, 2014 Edition

    EIB-132, December 22, 2014

    Most U.S. farms-97 percent in 2011-are family operations. Small family farms make up 90 percent of the count, though midsize and large-scale family farms produce 60 percent of value of production, per ERS's latest Family Farm Report.

  • Study Finds Crop Insurance Has Small Effect on Environmental Quality

    Amber Waves, September 05, 2017

    Crop insurance can help protect farmers from large losses resulting from crop failure or unusually large drops in crop prices. Subsidized crop insurance makes crop production less risky and more profitable. Recent ERS research suggests that crop insurance has small effects on environmental quality in the Corn Belt region.

  • Summary of Federal Laws and Regulations Affecting Agricultural Employers, 2000

    AH-719, July 01, 2000

    About 34 percent of U.S. farms in 1997 used hired labor, and 12 percent used contract labor. Hired labor costs averaged 12 percent of total farm production expenses in 1997, but amounted to as much as 44 percent of production expenses for horticultural specialty crop producers, 40 percent for fruit and tree nut producers, and 32 percent for vegetable and melon producers. Hired farmworkers have accounted for about 31 percent of the farm workforce in the 1990's. Hired labor's importance of to U.S. farm production requires agricultural employers to understand Federal laws and regulations governing employment, taxes, wages, and working conditions. This single-source publication summarizes these laws and regulations. This updated version of a 1992 report contains expanded sections on agricultural employers' Federal safety requirements, migrant and seasonal farmworker provisions, and tax requirements for agricultural employers, as well as new sections on employer responsibilities under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

  • Supply Response Under the 1996 Farm Act and Implications for the U.S. Field Crops Sector

    TB-1888, September 21, 2000

    The 1996 Farm Act gives farmers almost complete planting flexibility, allowing producers to respond to price changes to a greater extent than they had under previous legislation. This study measures supply responsiveness for major field crops to changes in their own prices and in prices for competing crops and indicates significant increases in responsiveness. Relative to 1986-90, the percentage increases in the responsiveness of U.S. plantings of major field crops to a 1-percent change in their own prices are: wheat (1.2 percent), corn (41.6 percent), soybeans (13.5 percent), and cotton (7.9 percent). In percentage terms, the increases in the responsiveness generally become greater with respect to competing crops' price changes. The 1996 legislation has the least effect on U.S. wheat acreage, whereas the law may lead to an average increase of 2 million acres during 1996-2005 in soybean acreage, a decline of 1-2 million acres in corn acreage, and an increase of 0.7 million acres in cotton acreage. Overall, the effect of the farm legislation on regional production patterns of major field crops appears to be modest. Corn acreage expansion in the Central and Northern Plains, a long-term trend in this important wheat production region, will slow under the 1996 legislation, while soybean acreage expansion in this region will accelerate. The authors used the Policy Analysis System-Economic Research Service (POLYSYS-ERS) model that was jointly developed by USDA's Economic Research Service and the University of Tennessee's Agricultural Policy Analysis Center to estimate the effects of the 1996 legislation.

  • Switching the Payment Trigger for an Area-Based Revenue Program Could Increase Participation

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2012

    The ACRE program relies on State- and farm-level revenue payment triggers to provide producers with an alternative to price-based and direct payment commodity programs. Switching from a State-level trigger to one closer to the farm level would generally increase expected payments, but the impact would vary by crop, region, and market prices.

  • Tax Policy Can Alter Farm Asset Investment Decisions

    Amber Waves, November 06, 2017

    Farming requires a substantial investment in assets such as barns, machinery, and equipment. Two IRS provisions, section 179 and bonus depreciation, allow farms (and all businesses) to deduct the cost of these assets in their first year of service. These deductions can be used together to accelerate the recovery of the asset’s cost, thereby reducing a farmer’s taxable income sooner than otherwise.

  • Tenure, Ownership and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) Survey 2014: A New USDA, Economic Research Service/National Agricultural Statistics Service Data Product

    Amber Waves, November 02, 2015

    Of the 911 million acres of land in farms in the contiguous 48 states, 61 percent (557 million acres) is operated by the land owner, according to the 2014 Tenure Ownership and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) survey. Eight percent (70 million acres) is rented from other farm operators and 31 percent, or 283 million acres, is rented from “non-operating landlords."