Publications

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  • 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.

  • The Off-Farm Occupations of U.S. Farm Operators and Their Spouses

    EIB-117, September 06, 2013

    Most farm households have at least one family member working at an off-farm job, and farm operators and spouses are more likely than workers in general to hold management and professional positions.

  • When Working Off the Farm, Farm Operators Most Commonly Work in Management and Professional Occupations

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2013

    Most U.S. farm households earn income from nonfarm sources, and in 2011, roughly 56 percent of their nonfarm income came from off-farm jobs, on average. When working off-farm, 36 percent of farm operators and their spouses reported working in management and professional occupations.

  • Rural Broadband At A Glance, 2013 Edition

    EB-23, June 20, 2013

    Rural household Internet and broadband subscription rates generally fall below urban rates, but rural areas gained broadband subscribers faster in 2009-10.

  • 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.

  • Characteristics of Women Farm Operators and Their Farms

    EIB-111, April 29, 2013

    The number of women farm operators has tripled in the last three decades. From 1982 to 2007, the number of female-operated farms increased by184,000, while male-operated farms declined by 220,800.

  • Updating the ERS Farm Typology

    EIB-110, April 04, 2013

    ERS updated the farm typology to reflect commodity price inflation and a shift in production toward larger farms. The revised typology (now measuring by gross cash farm income) slightly increases the share of farms classified as small.

  • Younger Beginning Farmers Tend To Operate Larger Farms

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2013

    In 2011, 11 percent of beginning farm operators under age 35 had gross farm sales of $250,000 or more, compared with 6 percent of beginning operators age 35-49 and 1 percent of those age 50 and older. As a result, young beginning farm households tend to earn more on their farm and less off their farm than other beginning farm households.

  • 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.

  • Understanding Farm Income’s Role in Farm Household Finances

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2013

    Over the last 20 years, farm income has represented a small share of total farm household income--as little as 4.6 percent and never more than 17.5 percent. This pattern supports the counterintuitive notion that farming matters little to the financial well-being of U.S. farm households. However, the share of farm income to total farm household income can be misleading.

  • Federal Income Tax Reform and the Potential Effects on Farm Households

    Amber Waves, February 21, 2013

    The elements common to many reform proposals--eliminating tax preferences, restructuring capital gains and dividend rates, lowering marginal rates, and reducing the number of tax brackets--could affect the well-being of farm households.

  • 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.

  • Beginning Farmers and Ranchers at a Glance

    EB-22, January 30, 2013

    In 2011, beginning farms and ranches accounted for 22 percent of the 2 million U.S. family farms and 10 percent of the value of agricultural production by family farms. How do beginning farmers and ranchers compare to established ones?

  • Multi-Enterprising Farm Households: The Importance of Their Alternative Business Ventures in the Rural Economy

    EIB-101, October 31, 2012

    Nearly a third of U.S. farm households generate income by engaging in business ventures independent of commodity production, creating $26.7 billion in household income in 2007, from both on- and off-farm enterprises.

  • Government Commodity Payments Continue To Shift to Larger Farms, Higher Income Households

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2012

    As agricultural production has shifted to farms with larger sales, so, too, has the distribution of commodity-related program payments. Unless the design of commodity programs changes substantially, current payment trends are likely to continue.

  • 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.

  • Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, 2011 Edition

    AIS-91, December 14, 2011

    Net farm income is forecast at $100.9 billion in 2011, up 28 percent from 2010 and 50 percent higher than the 10-year average of $67.4 billion for 2001-2010. Net cash income at $109.8 billion would be a nominal record, 19 percent above the prior record attained in 2010. Net value added is expected to increase by almost $24 billion in 2011 to $153.7 billion. Production expenses are forecast to jump substantially in 2011 to a record nominal high exceeding $300 billion. Prices paid indexes drive the forecast increase. Inflation-adjusted 2011 production expenses will exceed the previous peak reached in 1979. The values of farm business sector assets and equity (assets minus debt) are forecast to rise in 2011, while farm debt is forecast to decline from 2010 levels. Farm sector asset values are expected to rise by 6.8 percent in 2011 as the values of land and farm buildings, crop inventories, purchased inputs, machinery and equipment and financial assets are all expected to rise in 2011. Farm sector debt is expected to fall from about $247 billion in 2010 to about $243 billion in 2011. The decline in real estate debt is expected to be about $4 billion (-3.0 percent). The farm business sector's debt-to-asset ratio is expected to decline to 10.4 percent and debt-to-equity is expected to decline to 11.6 percent in 2011, indicating that the farm sector's solvency position remains strong. Average net cash income for farm businesses is expected to increase throughout most of the country in 2011, although income growth is not as high as experienced in 2010. High commodity prices for both crops and livestock are driving these increases, despite increasing expenses in all categories other than labor. Except for poultry, high prices in 2011 have helped the livestock sector to continue the strong performance of 2010 despite an environment of increasing feed expenses. Driven by the gains in most crop and livestock farms, all regions other than the Southern Seaboard are expected to experience at least a 7-percent improvement in average net cash income over 2010. Median farm household income increased by 3.7 percent in 2010 to $54,162 and is forecast to be higher in 2011. Bolstered by higher farm asset values, the balance sheet of farm households improved in 2010, with median net worth increasing by 6.5 percent to $576,745.

  • The Changing Organization of U.S. Farming

    EIB-88, December 02, 2011

    Using survey and census data, ERS examines how changes in farm input use, business arrangements, structure, and production practices since the 1980s combined to expand output without increasing the total use of inputs.

  • Identifying Overlap in the Farm Safety Net

    EIB-87, November 22, 2011

    ERS offers a conceptual framework for identifying overlap in farm safety net programs, including how to define and measure overlap. The study also suggests a direction for further analysis.

  • Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, 2010 Edition

    AIS-90, December 15, 2010

    Net farm income is forecast at $81.6 billion in 2010, up 31 percent from 2009 and 26 percent higher than the 10-year average of $64.8 billion for 2000 to 2009. Net cash income at $92.5 billion would be a nominal record, 2.3 percent above the prior record attained in 2008. Net value added is expected to increase by almost $20 billion in 2010 to $132.0 billion. Production expenses are forecast to rise moderately, reversing the significant declines seen in 2009. However, nominal total production expenses in 2010 and 2009 still constitute the second- and third-highest totals ever. Farm business equity (assets minus debt) is expected to rise nearly 4 percent, largely due to an expected 3-percent increase in the value of farm business real estate and a 2-percent decline in farm business debt. The farm business sector's debt-to-asset ratio is expected to decline to 11.3 percent and the debt-to-equity ratio is expected to decline to 12.8 percent in 2010, indicating that the farm sector's solvency position remains strong. Average net cash income for farm businesses is expected to increase throughout much of the country in 2010. The expected strong recovery in dairy, hog, and cattle receipts will result in much higher average net cash incomes for farm businesses in the Northern Crescent, Basin and Range, and Prairie Gateway. In the Northern Crescent, where dairy is a prominent commodity, average net cash income for farm businesses is forecast to increase by over 58 percent. Incomes are expected to be almost 50 percent higher in 2010 for farm businesses in the Basin and Range region where cattle are an important commodity, a region that showed the Average farm household income of principal farm operators-from farm and off-farm sources-is forecast to be $83,194 in 2010, up 7.8 percent from 2009. This contrasts with the change for the 2008 to 2009 period, when average farm household income declined by 3.3 percent.