Publications

Sort by: Title | Date
  • Greening Income Support and Supporting Green

    EB-1, March 14, 2006

    A multitude of design decisions influence the performance of voluntary conservation programs. This Economic Brief is one of a set of five exploring the implications of decisions policymakers and program managers must make about who is eligible to receive payments, how much can be received, for what action, and the means by which applicants are selected. In particular, this Brief focuses on potential tradeoffs in combining income support and environmental objectives in a single program.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2006

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

  • Agricultural Contracting Update: Contracts in 2003

    EIB-9, January 04, 2006

    Marketing and production contracts covered 39 percent of the value of U.S. agricultural production in 2003, up from 36 percent in 2001 and a substantial increase over estimated values of 28 percent for 1991 and 11 percent in 1969. Large farms are far more likely to contract than small farms; in fact, contracts cover over half of the value of production from farms with at least $1 million in sales. Although use of both production and marketing contracts has grown over time, growth is more rapid for production contracts, which are largely used for livestock.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2005

    Farm, Rural, Natural Resources and Food and Fiber Sector Indicators section - November 2005

  • Economic Analysis of Base Acre and Payment Yield Designations Under the 2002 U.S. Farm Act

    ERR-12, September 19, 2005

    The 2002 Farm Act provided farmland owners the opportunity to update commodity program base acres and payment yields used for calculating selected program benefits. Findings in this report suggest that farmland owners responded to economic incentives in these decisions, selecting those options for designating base acres that resulted in the greatest expected flow of program payments. Farmland owners with high-payment base acres, such as rice and cotton, held on to these base acres and, whenever possible, expanded them. Analogously, farmland owners with low-payment commodity base acres, such as oats and barley, switched to higher payment commodities whenever possible.

  • Did the Mandatory Requirement Aid the Market? Impact of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act

    LDPM-135-01, September 16, 2005

    This study focuses on fed cattle markets to compare the mandatory price reporting system developed by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service in 2001 with the previous voluntary reporting system. The study also evaluates whether the mandatory system has improved the amount and quality of information available to the market. Results show that mandatory reporting has given the market additional information about prices for different kinds of sales transactions. The trend toward formula purchases has slowed since mandatory price reporting was implemented, and the volume of cattle moving under negotiated purchases has increased.

  • Farmland Owners Designate Base Acres to Maximize Payments

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    The 2002 Farm Act provided farmland owners the opportunity to designate commodity program base acres and payment yields, program parameters that are used to determine direct and countercyclical payments. Farmland owners generally chose the alternative that provided the highest direct and countercyclical payments, a distinctly different economic decision than that underlying year-to-year planting decisions.

  • Crop Genetic Resources: An Economic Appraisal

    EIB-2, May 24, 2005

    Crop genetic resources are the basis of agricultural production. However, crop genetic resources are largely public goods, so private incentives for genetic resource conservation may fall short of achieving public objectives. Within the U.S. germplasm system, certain crop collections lack sufficient diversity to reduce vulnerability to pests and diseases. This report examines the role of genetic resources, genetic diversity, and efforts to value genetic resources.

  • 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.

  • Market Access for High-Value Foods

    AER-840, February 01, 2005

    This report examines global food trade patterns and the role of WTO market access rules in shaping the composition of global food trade.

  • Decoupled Payments in a Changing Policy Setting

    AER-838, October 29, 2004

    This report analyzes the U.S. experience with decoupled payments in the Production Flexibility Contracts program from 1996 to 2002. The studies in this report consider the effects of decoupled payments on recipient households, and assess land, labor, risk management, and capital market conditions that can lead to links between decoupled payments and production choices. Each study contributes a different perspective to understanding the response of U.S. farm households and production to decoupled income transfers.

  • Rural America At A Glance, 2004

    AIB-793, September 30, 2004

    Rural America At A Glance, 2004 is a six-page brochure that highlights the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas for use in developing policies and programs to assist rural areas. The brochure is the third in a series of reports that uses current social and economic data to highlight population, labor market, income, and poverty trends in rural areas. This brochure provides information on key rural conditions and trends for use by public and private decisionmakers and others in efforts to enhance the economic opportunities and quality of life for rural people and their communities.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2004

    Research Areas page from the June 2004 issue of Amber Waves

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    The U.S. food and fiber system (FFS) is a source of jobs and earnings for millions of American workers and a supplier of products worldwide. Food and fiber gross domestic product (GDP) and employment increased almost every year between 1972 and 2001. Because the rest of the economy grew at a relatively faster pace, however, the food and fiber share of national GDP and employment declined.

  • 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.

  • Production Costs Critical to Farming Decisions

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    This article outlines the relevance of production costs - both operating and total (including capital costs) - in farmers' decisions about production levels and mix, and about exit from the sector.

  • Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators, 2003

    AH-722, February 28, 2003

    This report identifies trends in land, water, and biological resources and commercial input use, reports on the condition of natural resources used in the agricultural sector, and describes and assesses public policies that affect conservation and environmental quality in agriculture. Combining data and information, this report examines the complex connections among farming practices, conservation, and the environment, which are increasingly important components in U.S. agriculture and farm policy. The report also examines the economic factors that affect resource use and estimates costs and benefits to farmers, consumers, and the government of meeting conservation and environmental goals. The report takes stock of how natural resources (land, water and biological resources) and commercial inputs (nutrients, pesticides, seed and machinery) are used in the agricultural sector; shows how they contribute to environmental quality; and links use and quality to technological change, production practices, and farm programs. The report is available only in electronic format.

  • Farm Payments: Decoupled Payments Increase Households' Well-Being, Not Production

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Although decoupled payments do not distort price incentives for producers, they can still alter production decisions because payments increase farm operators' income, and the expectation of fixed, future payments increases their wealth. Increased income and wealth from decoupled payments, as from any other source of income, has lasting effects on households' decisions about how much to spend, save, and work.

  • The 2002 Farm Act: Provisions and Implications for Commodity Markets

    AIB-778, November 14, 2002

    The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (2002 Farm Act), which governs agricultural programs through 2007, was signed into law in May 2002. This report presents an initial evaluation of the new legislation's effects on agricultural commodity markets, based on sectorwide model simulations under alternative policy assumptions. The analysis shows that loan rate changes under the marketing assistance loan program of the 2002 Farm Act initially result in an increase in total planted acreage of eight major program crops. This increase in plantings, however, is relatively small (less than 1 percent), partly due to the inelasticity of acreage response in the sector. In the longer run, the simulations indicate that overall plantings of the eight program crops studied are lower under the 2002 Farm Act than under a continuation of the 1996 Farm Act. This result mostly reflects larger enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program and increased plantings of dry peas and lentils, although planted acreage for the eight program crops is reduced by less than 0.6 percent. The effects of the 2002 Farm Act on the livestock sector and retail food prices are relatively small. Farm income is increased, mostly due to higher government payments to the sector under the new law.

  • Income, Wealth, and the Economic Well-Being of Farm Households

    AER-812, July 01, 2002

    Agricultural policy is rooted in the 1930's notion that providing transfers of money to the farm sector translates into increased economic well-being of farm families. This report shows that neither change in income for the farm sector nor for any particular group of farm business can be presumed to reflect changes confronting farm households. Farm households draw income from various sources, including off-farm work, other businesses operated and, increasingly, nonfarm investments. Likewise, focus on a single indicator of well-being, such as income, overlooks other indicators such as the wealth held by the household and the level of consumption expenditures for health care, food, housing, and other items. Using an expanded definition of economic well-being, we show that farm households as a whole are better off than the average U.S. household, but that 6 percent remain economically disadvantaged.