Publications

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  • With Adequate Productivity Growth, Global Agriculture Is Resilient to Future Population and Economic Growth

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2014

    If agricultural productivity growth slows in future years, how will global agricultural output, consumption, land use, and prices adjust? To address this question, ERS researchers recently used the agency’s global agricultural and energy economic model—the Future Agricultural Resources Model (FARM)—to simulate agricultural markets in 2050 under a range of different scenarios.

  • Milk Production Continues Shifting to Large-Scale Farms

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2014

    Production has shifted to larger farms in most agricultural commodity sectors over the last two decades. This is especially true for dairy farms, where a major transformation of the sector has reduced the number of dairy farms by nearly 60 percent over the past 20 years, even as total milk production increased by one-third.

  • Greater Heat Stress From Climate Change Could Lower Dairy Productivity

    Amber Waves, November 03, 2014

    In 2010, heat stress is estimated to have lowered annual milk production for the average dairy by about $39,000, totaling $1.2 billion in lost production for the entire U.S. diary sector. Additional heat stress from climate change is expected to lower milk production for the average dairy by 0.60-1.35 percent in 2030 relative to what it would have been in the absence of climate change.

  • Economic Responses Offset Potential Climate Change Impacts on Global Agriculture

    Amber Waves, October 06, 2014

    Research indicates that a decrease in agricultural productivity due to climate change could be largely mitigated by increasing nonland inputs such as fertilizer and irrigation, increasing cropland area, and expanding international trade.

  • Global Drivers of Agricultural Demand and Supply

    ERR-174, September 18, 2014

    ERS examines hypothetical economic and agricultural sector responses to changes in key drivers of supply and demand in the future-agricultural productivity, population, and per capita income.

  • Extension Faces Challenges Entering Its Second Century

    Amber Waves, September 08, 2014

    In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act created a national Cooperative Extension System (Extension) that established partnerships between USDA, State land grant universities and other institutions, and local partners (city or county governments), with the goal of promoting U.S. agricultural productivity growth and improving rural life. Extension's role has varied through time and across regions.

  • Financial Risks and Incomes in Contract Broiler Production

    Amber Waves, August 04, 2014

    Contract broiler growers earn average household incomes that substantially exceed those of all farm and all U.S. households. Contract growers’ incomes cover a wider range than the incomes of all farm and all U.S. households. The range of income reflects, in part, the risks of contract production; while contracts are designed to remove or reduce certain financial risks, they introduce other risks

  • Antibiotics Used For Growth Promotion Have a Small Positive Effect on Hog Farm Productivity

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    Antibiotics are frequently used to treat and prevent diseases in livestock. In addition to these medical uses, a substantial share of hog producers incorporate antimicrobial drugs into their livestock’s feed or water to promote feed efficiency and weight gain. For many years, governmental and professional organizations have expressed concerns about the overuse of antimicrobial drugs in livestock.

  • International Food Security Assessment, 2014-24

    GFA-25, June 30, 2014

    The food-insecure population of 76 low- and middle-income countries is projected to fall 9 percent to 490 million in 2014. The food-insecure share of the population is projected to rise from 13.9 percent in 2014 to 14.6 percent in 2024.

  • Technology, Organization, and Financial Performance in U.S. Broiler Production

    EIB-126, June 19, 2014

    The broiler industry relies greatly on production contracts, with payment based on performance relative to other producers. Productivity improvements reflect developments in genetics, feed formulations, and housing technologies.

  • 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.

  • Working the Land With 10 Acres: Small Acreage Farming in the United States

    EIB-123, April 29, 2014

    Small acreage does not necessarily translate into low farm sales. About 17 percent (50,000) of farms with 10 or fewer acres had gross sales of at least $10,000 in 2007, and approximately 6,000 had sales of more than $250,000 that year.

  • Prospects for China's Corn Yield Growth and Imports

    FDS-14D-01, April 28, 2014

    The pace of growth in China's corn yield is a key determinant of its future corn imports. Yields are growing, but more slowly than U.S. yields. Trends suggest China's corn consumption, driven by feed demand, will outpace production growth.

  • Family Farming in the United States

    Amber Waves, March 04, 2014

    Family farms represent 97.6 percent of all U.S. farms, and are responsible for 85 percent of U.S. farm production.

  • Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States

    ERR-162, February 20, 2014

    Farmer adoption of GE crops is associated with time savings, lower insecticide use, and more conservation tillage. Consumer acceptance of GE ingredients varies across countries, product characteristics, and level of information.

  • Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States: 1948-2011

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2014

    U.S. total farm production more than doubled between 1948 and 2011. Agricultural output growth was mainly driven by productivity growth, with little contribution from total agricultural inputs growth.

  • Productivity Growth Slows for Specialized Hog Finishing Operations

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2014

    U.S. hog farm numbers dropped by 70 percent over 1991-2009 while hog inventories remained stable. The result has been an industry with larger hog enterprises, increased specialization in a single phase of production, greater reliance on purchased rather than homegrown feed, and greater use of production contracts. This structural change has led to higher productivity and lower pork prices.

  • Production Contracts May Help Small Hog Farms Grow in Size

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2014

    In the U.S. hog sector, production contracts—under which farm operators agree to raise hogs owned by contractors—are becoming increasingly common: the share of market hogs grown under a production contract increased from 5 percent in 1992 to over 70 percent in 2009. The growth in the use of production contracts has been accompanied by pronounced increases in the size of farms producing hogs.

  • Growth in Global Agricultural Productivity: An Update

    Amber Waves, November 18, 2013

    Over the past five decades, global agricultural output grew, on average, by 2.24 percent per year. This average, however, masks a slowdown in agricultural output growth in the 1970s and 1980s, after which it re-accelerated in the 1990s and 2000s. In the latest decade (2001-10), global output of total crop and livestock commodities expanded by 2.50 percent per year.

  • Summer Weather Most Important for Corn and Soybean Yields

    Amber Waves, October 24, 2013

    To measure the impact of weather on crops, ERS developed statistical models for corn and soybean yields based on 25 years of historical data. July tends to be the most important month for determining corn yields since many of the critical stages of crop development, particularly pollination, typically occur during that month. Weather in both July and August are important for soybean yields.