Publications

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  • Net Farm and Net Cash Income Forecast Below 10-Year Moving Average for First Time Since 2009

    Amber Waves, April 06, 2015

    Net farm income is forecast at $73.6 billion for 2015—a 32 percent decline from 2014—due primarily to declining crop and dairy receipts. Both net farm income and net cash income are expected to dip below their respective 10-year moving averages for the first time since 2009.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2024

    OCE-151, February 11, 2015

    USDA's 10-year food/farm sector projections cover major agricultural commodities, trade, and aggregate indicators of the U.S. farm sector, like farm income. Population and income growth are drivers of long-term demand for farm commodities.

  • Profit Margin Increases With Farm Size

    Amber Waves, February 02, 2015

    Given the broad USDA definition of a farm, most U.S. farms are not profitable as ongoing businesses. One commonly used measure of profitability is the farm’s operating profit margin (OPM), the ratio of operating profit to gross farm income.

  • Livestock Forage Disaster Program Payments Increase in 2014

    Amber Waves, February 02, 2015

    ERS’s current farm income forecast for 2014 includes $4.3 billion in Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) payments, an almost 700 percent increase from total LFP payments made during the previous 5 years combined. LFP, which is accounted for in farm income accounting under “ad hoc and disaster assistance payments,” is expected to be over 40 percent of total direct payments.

  • Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, 2014 Edition

    EIB-132, December 22, 2014

    Most U.S. farms-97 percent in 2011-are family operations. Small family farms make up 90 percent of the count, though midsize and large-scale family farms produce 60 percent of value of production, per ERS's latest Family Farm Report.

  • America's Diverse Family Farms: 2014 Edition

    EIB-133, December 22, 2014

    Farming is still an industry of family businesses. Ninety-seven percent of farms are family farms, and they account for 85 percent of farm production. Small farms make up 90 percent of the farm count and operate half of the Nation's farmland. Most farm production, however, occurs on midsize and large-scale family farms.

  • Higher Corn Returns Changes Corn Farm Dynamics

    Amber Waves, November 03, 2014

    Changes in the returns to corn production are examined over 1997-2013 period using data from ERS cost and return accounts and the corn versions of the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS).

  • Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Corn Farms, Including Organic, 2010

    EIB-128, September 17, 2014

    In 2010, the average operating and ownership costs per bushel varied between low- and high-cost corn producers but not among producers with different enterprise sizes. Organic production returns exceeded those for conventional production.

  • 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

  • 2014 Farm Act Shifts Crop Commodity Programs Away From Fixed Payments and Expands Program Choices

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    The new Farm Act continues a shift toward closer links between commodity programs and Federal crop insurance, involving complex trade-offs for producers. Read about it in the July issue of Amber Waves magazine.

  • 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.

  • Farm Businesses Well-Positioned Financially, Despite Rising Debt

    Amber Waves, April 08, 2014

    Debt owed by U.S. farm businesses rose 39 percent between 1992 and 2011, after adjusting for inflation. Despite rising debts, financial leverage—measured as debt relative to the value of assets—declined over this period for the typical farm business. Debt use and financial leverage varies widely, but the vast majority of farm businesses are better positioned to withstand unexpected changes in farm income or interest rates than they were in the 1990’s.

  • Debt Use by U.S. Farm Businesses, 1992-2011

    EIB-122, April 08, 2014

    While farm business debt use varies widely, large farms, farms with younger operators, and dairy and poultry farms have the highest levels of debt use.

  • Farm Financial Position Expected to Remain Strong Despite a Forecast Drop in 2014 Income

    Amber Waves, March 04, 2014

    Farm financial position expected to remain strong despite a forecast drop in 2014 income.

  • 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.

  • Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy Insurance: An Assessment of Risk Management and Potential Supply Impacts

    ERR-163, March 03, 2014

    Researchers from University of Kentucky and ERS find use of USDA's LGM-Dairy insurance reduces producers' risk but has little effect on the size of the average margin and only a modest potential to induce greater milk supplies.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2023

    OCE-141, February 13, 2014

    USDA's longrun projections for global agriculture reflect steady world economic growth and continued demand for biofuels, which combine to support increases in consumption, trade, and prices.

  • 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.

  • 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.