Publications

Sort by: Title | Date
  • The Importance of Farmer-Owned Nonfarm Businesses in the Rural Economy

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2013

    Farm households that also operate nonfarm businesses have accounted for about 18 percent of U.S. farm households since the 1990s. In 2007, farmer-owned nonfarm businesses employed over 800,000 nonfarm workers and contributed an estimated $55 billion to their local communities’ gross county product.

  • The Influence of Rising Commodity Prices on the Conservation Reserve Program

    ERR-110, February 11, 2011

    This report considers how increased commodity prices might influence enrollment in and benefits from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) using two complementary models: a likely-to-bid model that uses National Resources Inventory data to simulate offers to the general signup portion of the CRP and an opt-out model that simulates retention of current CRP contracts. Under several higher crop price scenarios, including one that incorporates 15 billion gallons of crop-based biofuels production, maintaining the CRP as currently configured will lead to significant expenditure increases. If constraints are placed on increasing rental rates, it might be possible to meet enrollment goals with moderate increases in CRP rental rates-but this will mean accepting lower average Environmental Benefits Index scores as landowners with profitable but environmentally sensitive lands choose not to enroll.

  • The Number of Midsize Farms Declined From 1992 to 2012, But Their Household Finances Remain Strong

    Amber Waves, December 05, 2016

    Between 1992 and 2012, the number of U.S. midsize farms declined by about 5 percent—or just over 6,100 farms. In the same period, midsize farm households have seen their finances improve, with household income doubling and off-farm income tripling in real terms.

  • The Post-Buyout Experience: Peanut and Tobacco Sectors Adapt to Policy Reform

    EIB-60, November 16, 2009

    ERS identifies market forces that have affected the peanut and tobacco industries following the end of longstanding system protections - in 2002 for peanuts and 2004 for tobacco.

  • The Potential Impact of Changes in Immigration Policy on U.S. Agriculture and the Market for Hired Farm Labor: A Simulation Analysis

    ERR-135, May 22, 2012

    ERS examines potential impacts on agriculture of large shifts in the supply of foreign-born labor that might result in the event of substantial changes in U.S. immigration laws or policies.

  • The Potential Impact of Tax Reform on Farm Businesses and Rural Households

    EIB-107, February 04, 2013

    Key elements of proposed tax reform, reducing accelerated deductions for capital purchases and raising capital gains tax rates, could increase tax liabilities for many farmers. Other elements could reduce tax liabilities.

  • The Revised ERS Farm Typology: Classifying U.S. Farms To Reflect Today's Agriculture

    Amber Waves, May 06, 2013

    Since the release of ERS's farm typology nearly 15 years ago, the U.S. agricultural sector has changed in a number of ways. ERS recently updated the typology to reflect three important trends: commodity price increases, a shift in production to larger farms, and the rapid growth of the use of production contracts among livestock producers.

  • The Role of Conservation Program Design in Drought-Risk Adaptation

    Amber Waves, July 01, 2013

    Since USDA conservation programs are voluntary, farmers base their participation decisions on local conditions, among other factors, and those decisions are influenced by the level of local drought risk. This is a form of climate adaptation.

  • The Role of Conservation Programs in Drought Risk Adaptation

    ERR-148, April 30, 2013

    Farms in more drought-prone areas are more likely to offer land to the Conservation Reserve Program or participate in other conservation programs. If climate change increases drought risk, farmer interest in these programs will likely grow.

  • 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.

  • The Size and Scope of Locally Marketed Food Production

    Amber Waves, February 02, 2015

    In 2012, 163,675 farmers sold an estimated $6.1 billion in local foods. "Local foods" includes food for human consumption sold via direct-to-consumer (e.g., farmers’ markets, on-farm stores, farm stands, pick-your-own activities, and other farmer-to-consumer venues) and intermediated marketing channels (sales directly to restaurants, grocers, schools, universities and other institutions).

  • The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997: Provisions for Farmers and Rural Communities

    AER-764, July 31, 1998

    Under the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, most farmers will pay less Federal income tax, and farm families will find it easier to transfer the family farm across generations. The new law--the tax portion of 1997 legislation to balance the Federal budget by 2002--emerges from years of debate on proposals for tax simplification, broad tax reduction, and targeted relief for capital gains and estate taxes. The legislation is expected to generate a net tax reduction of $95 billion over 5 years for all taxpayers. A number of general and targeted tax relief provisions will reduce Federal taxes significantly for farmers and other rural residents, but also will increase the complexity of both Federal income and estate taxes. Farmers are expected to save more than $1.6 billion per year in Federal income taxes and $150-200 million in Federal estate taxes.

  • The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture: Scale, Efficiency, and Risks

    EIB-43, January 23, 2009

    ERS details the nature, causes, and effects of structural changes in U.S. livestock production as it shifts to larger, more specialized, and more tightly integrated enterprises.

  • The U.S. Produce Industry and Labor: Facing the Future in a Global Economy

    ERR-106, November 12, 2010

    Fruit and vegetable production is a labor-intensive process, and over half of the hired workers employed by growers are believed to be unauthorized immigrants. Reforms to immigration laws, if they reduce the labor supply, may increase the cost of farm labor. The authors of this report assess how particular fruit and vegetable commodities might adjust if labor rates increased.

  • 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.

  • Tobacco and the Economy: Farms, Jobs, and Communities

    AER-789, November 03, 2000

    Public health policies intended to reduce the incidence of smoking-related disease adversely affect thousands of tobacco farmers, manufacturers, and other businesses that produce, distribute, and sell tobacco products. This report assesses the likely impacts of declining tobacco demand, and identifies the types of workers, farms, businesses, and communities that are most vulnerable to loss of tobacco income and jobs. The dollar impact on the farm sector of a reduction in cigarette demand will be smaller than that experienced by manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and transportation businesses, but tobacco farms and their communities may have the most difficulty adjusting. Many tobacco farmers lack good alternatives to tobacco, and they have tobacco-specific equipment, buildings, and experience. Most communities will make the transition to a smaller tobacco industry with little difficulty, because tobacco accounts for a small share of the local economy. However, a number of counties depend on tobacco for a significant share of local income.

  • Trends In U.S. Cotton Basis Since 2001

    CWS-09D01, June 25, 2009

    Price volatility in 2008 generated interest in underlying cotton cash and futures markets and highlighted the importance of market participants' expectations about basis changes over time in production, marketing, and hedging decisions. This analysis examines trends in average U.S. cotton basis and changes in the convergence of cash and futures prices as cotton futures contract expiration dates near between 2001 and 2009 to provide perspective for the average basis movements experienced in 2008. Though this analysis does not identify the factors leading to differences in average convergence paths since 2001, it finds that, while average cotton cash and futures prices converged in all years, the pattern in 2008 was significantly different from the other sample years.

  • Trends in Farm Sector Debt Vary by Type of Debt and Lender

    Amber Waves, July 05, 2016

    Following a period of decline due to the farm financial crisis in the 1980s, farm sector debt has trended upward since the mid-1990s but at a slower pace than growth in the 1970s. However, after multiple years of falling net farm income and tempered expectations for farm sector asset values, there is increased focus on farm debt and comparisons to the farm financial crisis after the 1980s.

  • Trends in U.S. Farmland Values and Ownership

    EIB-92, February 22, 2012

    In the last few years, U.S. farmland values have been supported by strong farm earnings, helping the farm sector withstand the residential housing downturn. Regarding ownership, non-operating landowners play a significant role.

  • Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress

    AP-068, January 29, 2015

    ERS details current economic information on local food producers, consumers, and policies, based on findings from several national surveys and a synthesis of recent literature.