Publications

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  • Economic Assessment of the 1999 Drought: Agricultural Impacts Are Severe Locally, but Limited Nationally

    AIB-755, November 01, 1999

    While the 1999 drought has had severe financial impacts on agricultural producers in the drought regions, its impact on U.S. agricultural production has been limited. The drought will reduce commodity receipts relative to 1998 by an estimated $1.29 billion. Estimated farm net income losses, including expected yield losses, increases in expenses, and insurance indemnities, will total $1.35 billion, about 3 percent of expected 1999 U.S. net farm income. Drought impacts in areas of the Northeast designated as extreme and severe drought are expected to reduce farmers' net income by nearly $840 million. The regions affected, the crops grown in those regions, the increased use of irrigation, and crop insurance coverage limited the drought's impacts on agriculture nationally. Drought also affects the rural population by reducing water supplies available for human and livestock consumption.

  • 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.

  • Economic Returns to Public Agricultural Research

    EB-10, September 04, 2007

    Over the last several decades, the U.S. agricultural sector has sustained impressive productivity growth. The Nation's agricultural research system, including Federal-State public research as well as private-sector research, has been a key driver of this growth. Economic analysis finds strong and consistent evidence that investment in agricultural research has yielded high returns per dollar spent. These returns include benefits not only to the farm sector but also to the food industry and consumers in the form of more abundant commodities at lower prices.

  • Economics of Antibiotic Use in U.S. Livestock Production

    ERR-200, November 24, 2015

    How widespread is use of antibiotics in U.S. livestock? What would be the affect on farmer practices and profits, and on supplies and prices, if antibiotic use for productivity-enhancing purposes were limited?

  • Evaluating the Resource Cost and Transferability of Brazil’s Cerrado Agricultural “Miracle”

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2013

    Brazil’s successful agricultural transformation of the Cerrado, which accounts for 24 percent of the country’s total area, is evident by a 192-percent rise in average production volumes of Cerrado farms during 1985-2006. Such success has led to speculation that the world’s other savannah regions, including Sub-Saharan Africa’s vast Guinea Savannah, could become new breadbaskets.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Farm Poverty Lowest in U.S. History

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2005

    Fifty years ago, half of all U.S. farm families were poor. Today, however, farm poverty is at its lowest level in the Nation's history due to the availability of remunerative off-farm employment coupled with onfarm gains in labor productivity.

  • Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming

    ERR-152, August 05, 2013

    Crop production and land have shifted to larger operations. ERS details the changes by region and commodity sector, and evaluates driving factors such as technologies, business organization and finances, land attributes, and policy.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Have Seed Industry Changes Affected Research Effort?

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    The unprecedented growth in U.S. agricultural productivity over the past 70 years owes much to a series of biological innovations embodied in major crop seeds, in particular, cotton, corn, soybeans, and wheat. These innovations are the result of the investment of considerable time and money into plant breeding research and development (R&D). However, the seed sector has changed: seed R&D has moved from being predominately public to predominately private, innovation protection is now pervasive, and the private seed industry has become highly concentrated. This article examines the extent of this shift in R&D from the public to the private domain and whether or not the shift is positively or negatively affecting research effort, and potentially agricultural productivity growth.

  • History of Agricultural Price-Support and Adjustment Programs, 1933-84

    AIB-485, December 03, 1984

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture's concern with price-support and adjustment legislation is carried out under a series of interrelated laws passed by Congress from 1933 to 1984. Beginning with the major proposals of the 1920s for handling and marketing farm surpluses, this history records the establishment of price-support and adjustment programs with the Federal Farm Board in 1929 and the Agricultural Adjustment Acts of 1933 and 1938, and then traces their evolution through 1984. This half century of development is important because it forms the foundation for implementing current and future farm legislation.

  • In the Long Run: Productivity Continues To Be the Engine of Growth in Agriculture

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Agricultural productivity growth averaged 1.68 percent from 1948 to 1999. However, the net contribution of all inputs to growth in output was less than one-tenth of 1 percentage point per year.

  • In the Long Run:Growth in Agricultural Productivity Limits Price Increases

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2008

    Prices across the U.S. economy rose an average of 3.4 percent per year between 1948 and 2007. Prices for agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, equipment, and labor rose 3.6 percent annually over the same period.

  • India’s Agricultural Growth Propellers

    Amber Waves, April 04, 2016

    ERS research on India’s agricultural performance since 1980 suggests that increases in productivity have spread from the northern grain belt, led by accelerated growth in production of horticulture and animal products. Several policies are propelling India’s agricultural productivity, namely investments in public and private agricultural research, irrigation infrastructure, and higher levels of public education.

  • Indonesian Agricultural Growth Leads to Increased Trade and Food Security

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    Indonesian policy changes in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s provided incentives for agricultural producers to exploit the country’s comparative advantage in perennial crops and led to an increase in agricultural exports and per capita incomes. As a result, food insecurity in Indonesia declined by nearly half from 1981 to 2007.