Publications

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  • Selected Trade Agreements and Implications for U.S. Agriculture

    ERR-115, April 15, 2011

    ERS examines possible impacts of recently implemented free trade agreements (FTAs) where the United States is not a partner, and potential effects of pending U.S. agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2020

    OCE-111, February 14, 2011

    This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2020. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Measuring the Indirect Land-Use Change Associated With Increased Biofuel Feedstock Production: A Review of Modeling Efforts: Report to Congress

    AP-054, February 10, 2011

    The House Report 111-181 accompanying H.R. 2997, the 2010 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, requested the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Economist, to conduct a study of land-use changes for renewable fuels and feedstocks used to produce them. This report summarizes the current state of knowledge of the drivers of land-use change and describes the analytic methods used to estimate the impact of biofuel feedstock production on land use. The models used to assess policy impacts have incorporated some of the major uncertainties inherent in making projections of future conditions, but some uncertainties will continue exist. The larger the impact of domestic biofuels feedstock production on commodity prices and the availability of exports, the larger the international land-use effects of likely to be. The amount of pressure placed on land internationally will depend in part on how much of the land needed for biofuel production is met through an expansion of agricultural land in the United States. If crop yield per acre increases through more intensive management or new crop varieties, then less land is needed to grow a particular amount of that crop.

  • Market Issues and Prospects for U.S. Distillers' Grains Supply, Use, and Price Relationships

    FDS-10K-01, December 09, 2010

    Growth in corn dry-mill ethanol production has surged in the past several years, simultaneously creating a coproduct-distillers' grains (DDGS). Many in the U.S. feed industry were concerned about the size of this new feed source and whether it could be used entirely by the feed industry, but they also worried about the price discovery process for the product. The authors of this report provide a transparent methodology to estimate U.S. supply and consumption of DDGS. Potential domestic and export use of U.S. DDGS exceeds current production and is likely to exceed future production as ethanol production continues to grow. The authors identify the DDGS price discovery process along with the price relationships of distillers' grains, corn, and soybean meal.

  • ACRE Program Payments and Risk Reduction: An Analysis Based on Simulations of Crop Revenue Variability

    ERR-101, September 17, 2010

    ERS analyzes the distribution, by crop and region, of potential farm payments and risk reduction in the revenue-based Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program. The report focuses on corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton.

  • Japan's Beef Market

    LDPM-194-01, August 30, 2010

    This report provides a broad overview of the beef market in Japan, including consumer's preferences, domestic production practices, domestic and trade policies, and market outlook.

  • Next-Generation Biofuels: Near-Term Challenges and Implications for Agriculture

    BIO-01-01, May 14, 2010

    This report assesses the short-term outlook for production of next-generation biofuels and the near-term challenges facing the sector. Next-generation U.S. biofuel capacity should reach about 88 million gallons in 2010, thanks in large measure to one plant becoming commercially operational in 2010, using noncellulosic animal fat to produce green diesel. U.S. production capacity for cellulosic biofuels is estimated to be 10 million gallons for 2010, much less than the 100 million gallons originally mandated by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. Near-term sector challenges include reducing high capital and production costs, acquiring financial resources for precommercial development, developing new biomass supply arrangements, many of which will be with U.S. farmers, and overcoming the constraints of ethanol's current 10-percent blending limit with gasoline.

  • China’s Corn Surplus Persists, Despite Industrial-Processing Boom

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    China is using more of its corn to manufacture hundreds of industrial products, including starches, sweeteners, alcohol, amino acids, and citric acid. But despite a decade of booming industrial use, China’s corn supply still exceeds its demand.

  • Factors Influencing ACRE Program Enrollment

    ERR-84, December 29, 2009

    ERS applied requirements of the new Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program to eligible crops from 1996 to 2008 and analyzed whether farmers would have benefited more from ACRE than from the programs available during that time

  • Feed Outlook: December 2009

    FDS-09K-01, December 14, 2009

    China's corn imports are minimal, even though it is using a growing proportion of its corn to produce starch, ethanol, and other industrial products. The corn-processing industry's growth was encouraged by Chinese government policy, but the industry now has excess capacity. Many of the corn-based industrial products are exported. China's price support for corn during 2008/09 increased raw material costs for the industry and slowed its growth.

  • Science, Technology, and Prospects for Growth in U.S. Corn Yields

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    Recent increases in inflation-adjusted crop prices have sparked renewed interest in the potential for continued increases in crop yields. Investment in scientific research is key for boosting corn yields, making productivity, environmental, and bioenergy goals easier to attain.

  • Ethanol and a Changing Agricultural Landscape

    ERR-86, November 18, 2009

    The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 established specific targets for the production of biofuel in the United States. Until advanced technologies become commercially viable, meeting these targets will increase demand for traditional agricultural commodities used to produce ethanol, resulting in land-use, production, and price changes throughout the farm sector. This report summarizes the estimated effects of meeting the EISA targets for 2015 on regional agricultural production and the environment. Meeting EISA targets for ethanol production is estimated to expand U.S. cropped acreage by nearly 5 million acres by 2015, an increase of 1.6 percent over what would otherwise be expected. Much of the growth comes from corn acreage, which increases by 3.5 percent over baseline projections. Water quality and soil carbon will also be affected, in some cases by greater percentages than suggested by changes in the amount of cropped land. The economic and environmental implications of displacing a portion of corn ethanol production with ethanol produced from crop residues are also estimated.

  • Full Throttle U.S. Ethanol Expansion Faces Challenges Down the Road

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2009

    The large gains in the scale of the U.S. ethanol industry over the past decade were achieved by “picking the low-hanging fruit” on both the supply and demand sides of the market. Achieving further large-scale gains will depend on whether the industry can overcome challenges in producing ethanol through cellulosic technologies and on expanding use of ethanol in automobiles.

  • Issues and Prospects in Corn, Soybeans, and Wheat Futures Markets

    FDS-09G-01, August 05, 2009

    The past 5 years have seen large increases in trading of corn, soybean, and wheat futures contracts by nontraditional traders, a trend that coincided with historic price increases for these commodities. These events have raised questions about whether changes in the composition of traders participating have contributed to movements in commodity prices beyond the effects of market fundamentals. Evidence suggests the link between futures and cash prices for some commodity markets may have weakened (poor convergence), making it more difficult for traditional traders to use futures markets to manage risk. This report discusses the role and objective of new futures traders compared with those of traditional futures traders and seeks to determine if the composition of traders in futures markets has contributed to convergence problems. Market activity is analyzed by focusing on positions of both traditional and new market traders, price levels, price volatility, and volume and open interest trends. Convergence of futures and cash prices is examined, along with implications and prospects for risk management by market participants. The report also discusses the implications for market performance and the regulatory response of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

  • Manure Use for Fertilizer and for Energy: Report to Congress

    AP-037, June 25, 2009

    The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to evaluate the role of animal manure as a source of fertilizer, and its other uses. About 5 percent of all U.S. cropland is currently fertilized with livestock manure, and corn accounts for over half of the acreage to which manure is applied. Expanded environmental regulation through nutrient management plans will likely lead to wider use of manure on cropland, at higher production costs, but with only modest impacts on production costs, commodity demand, or farm structure. There is widespread interest in using manure as a feedstock for energy production. While current use is quite limited, expanded government support, either direct or indirectly, could lead to a substantial increase in manure use as a feedstock. However, current energy processes are unlikely to compete with fertilizer uses of manure, because they leave fertilizer nutrients as residues, in more marketable form, and because manure-to-energy projects will be most profitable in regions where raw manure is in excess supply, with the least value as fertilizer.

  • Economic Aspects of Revenue-Based Commodity Support

    ERR-72, April 07, 2009

    ERS examines the economic effects of two theoretical scenarios in which commodity support is determined by shortfalls in farm revenue, unlike current price-based programs or yield-based assistance.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.