Publications

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  • Despite Profit Potential, Organic Field Crop Acreage Remains Low

    Amber Waves, November 02, 2015

    USDA survey data show that organic systems had lower yields and higher total economic costs than conventional systems. Organic corn and soybeans have been profitable, primarily due to the significant price premiums paid for certified organic crops that more than offset the additional economic costs. Organic wheat has been less profitable.

  • Development of China's Feed Industry and Demand for Imported Commodities

    FDS-15K-01, November 19, 2015

    China's commercial feed industry plays a critical role in supporting growth of the country's livestock sector. The feed industry's need for raw materials has been key to lowering China's barriers to agricultural imports.

  • 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.

  • Economic Issues in the Coexistence of Organic, Genetically Engineered (GE), and Non-GE Crops

    EIB-149, February 24, 2016

    ERS synthesizes production data on GE crop varieties, organic crops (which exclude GE seed), and conventionally grown non-GE crops, and considers coexistence practices and economic losses due to unintended presence of GE material.

  • Economics of Ethanol Production in the United States

    AER-607, March 01, 1989

    Expansion of the U.S. ethanol industry hinges largely on extension of the Federal fuel excise tax exemption and corn prices. This report examines production costs and the relative competitiveness of the ethanol industry. The report evaluates structural characteristics of the industry, including economies of scale and the relative economics of the two primary manufacturers, wet- and dry-mill plants.

  • Effects of Recent Energy Price Reductions on U.S. Agriculture

    BIO-04, June 02, 2015

    Sharply lower energy prices begun in late 2014 will benefit the agriculture sector mainly through lower transport and production costs. Energy price decreases are projected to lower production costs by about $5 billion in 2015 and in 2016.

  • Energy Development’s Impacts on Rural Employment Growth

    Amber Waves, December 16, 2013

    Energy Development’s Impacts on Rural Employment Growth.

  • Estimating the Net Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol

    AER-721, July 01, 1995

    Studies conducted since the late 1970's have estimated the net energy value of corn ethanol. However, variations in data and assumptions used among the studies have resulted in a wide range of estimates. This study identifies the factors causing this wide variation and develops a more consistent estimate. We conclude that the net energy value of corn ethanol has become positive in recent years due to technological advances in ethanol conversion and increased efficiency in farm production. We show that corn ethanol is energy efficient as indicated by an energy ratio of 1.24.

  • Estimating the Substitution of Distillers' Grains for Corn and Soybean Meal in the U.S. Feed Complex

    FDS-11I01, October 13, 2011

    Corn-based dry-mill ethanol production and its coproducts - notably distillers' dried grains with soluble (DDGS) - have surged in recent years. The report estimates the potential substitution of DDGS for corn and soybean meal in livestock feeding and the impact of substitution upon the U.S. feed complex.

  • Ethanol Expansion in the United States: How Will the Agricultural Sector Adjust?

    FDS-07D-01, May 18, 2007

    A large expansion in ethanol production is underway in the United States. Cellulosic sources of feedstocks for ethanol production hold some promise for the future, but the primary feedstock in the United States currently is corn. Market adjustments to this increased demand extend well beyond the corn sector to supply and demand for other crops, such as soybeans and cotton, as well as to U.S. livestock industries. USDA's long-term projections, augmented by farmers' planting intentions for 2007, are used to illustrate anticipated changes in the agricultural sector.

  • Ethanol Reshapes the Corn Market

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2006

    This article examines the possible market impacts of the ongoing expansion of the U.S. ethanol sector. To meet the sector's growing demand for corn, some of the corn produced in the United States is likely to be diverted from exports. In the future, corn may cease to be the main feedstock for U.S. ethanol production if cellulosic biomass is successfully developed as an alternative.

  • Ethanol Strengthens the Link Between Agriculture and Energy Markets

    Amber Waves, June 05, 2012

    The growing role of the ethanol industry as a supplier to the U.S. motor fuels market has reshaped the relationship between agriculture and energy markets. Price relationships between the U.S. corn and gasoline markets strengthened after March 2008 and continue to be highly correlated.

  • Ethanol and U.S. Agriculture

    AIB-559, January 02, 1989

    Ethanol produced from grain is viewed by many as a way to reduce energy imports, levels of carbon monoxide in the air, and surplus grain stocks. Federal and State governments helped to establish the fuel ethanol industry by providing direct payments, tax exemptions, and loan guarantees. Future Policy decisions could significantly affect ethanol production and demand. Treatment of ethanol in agricultural policy is made difficult by its ties to energy, environmental, and trade policy. This bulletin provides a basis for assessing the contribution of ethanol production to national objectives.

  • 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.

  • Ethanol: Economic and Policy Tradeoffs

    AER-585, April 29, 1988

    Federally supported ethanol use is one alternative for meeting environmental, energy security, and agricultural objectives. Additional expansion of the industry depends on a continuation of current favorable conditions, including extension of the Federal gasoline tax exemption. Under current conditions, ethanol should be able to compete with other additives as an octane enhancer. Expansion of the ethanol industry would increase ethanol's contribution to improving energy security, reducing air quality problems associated with carbon monoxide, and increasing corn prices. The report provides a basis for assessing the tradeoffs in using ethanol to meet national objectives.

  • Ethyl Alcohol Becomes a Global Commodity

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2005

    Use of corn to produce ethyl alcohol has increased rapidly in the U.S., mainly because when added to gasoline, it can cut harmful air emissions. But ethyl alcohol can be produced from any commodity containing starch or sugar, including sorghum, barley, grasses, and even paper. Rising U.S. demand has led to an increase in imports of ethyl alcohol. In 2003 the largest supplier was Brazil, which produces ethyl alcohol from sugar.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Farm Production Practices To Preserve Non-Genetically Engineered Product Markets

    Amber Waves, March 07, 2016

    To receive the price premiums associated with organic and conventional non-GE crops, producers must minimize the unintended presence of GE materials in their crops. USDA organic surveys show that producers commonly use buffer strips or delay crop planting until after any nearby GE crops are planted to minimize accidental crop mixing.

  • Farm Profits and Adoption of Precision Agriculture

    ERR-217, October 18, 2016

    ERS examines recent trends in adoption of precision agriculture technologies, the production practices and farm characteristics associated with adoption, and whether adoption is associated with greater profitability on U.S. corn farms.