Publications

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  • Climate Change, Water Scarcity, and Adaptation in the U.S. Fieldcrop Sector

    ERR-201, November 25, 2015

    U.S. irrigated fieldcrop acreage, and water used, are projected to decline with long-term climate change, due to factors including changes in precipitation, shifts in surface-water availability, and temperature-stressed crop growth.

  • Climate Change, Water Scarcity, and Adaptation

    Amber Waves, November 25, 2015

    Irrigation is widely viewed as an important adaptation to shifting production conditions under climate change. This analysis projects, however, that irrigated fieldcrop acreage will decline as a result of climate change over the 2020 to 2080 study period. Factors driving the shifting relative profitability of irrigation under climate change vary by region.

  • The Cost Effectiveness of Removing Nitrogen by Restoring and Protecting Wetlands Varies Geographically

    Amber Waves, October 05, 2015

    The Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic zone stems in part from an excess of nutrients, including nitrogen. An estimated 60-80 percent of the nitrogen delivered to the Gulf of Mexico is from agriculture, despite some farmers’ adoption of on-field nitrogen conservation practices. Nitrogen removal benefits of wetlands and restoration costs vary substantially across the Upper Mississippi/Ohio River watersheds.

  • California’s Irrigation Varies by Crop

    Amber Waves, July 06, 2015

    Farmers in California grow a wide variety of crops using off-farm surface water, groundwater, and to a limited extent, on-farm surface water. Differences in the source of irrigation water play a major role in how vulnerable different crops are to shortfalls in surface water supplies due to drought. Farmers of different crops also have differing levels of investment in irrigation technologies.

  • Wetlands Benefits and Costs Vary With Location

    Amber Waves, May 04, 2015

    Over the past two decades, USDA has spent over $4.2 billion to restore and protect wetlands. While restoring and protecting wetlands comes at a cost, their ecosystems provide a wide array of benefits that can exceed costs.

  • Managing Glyphosate Resistance May Sustain Its Efficacy and Increase Long-Term Returns to Corn and Soybean Production

    Amber Waves, May 04, 2015

    Widespread use of the glyphosate on major crops, particularly soybeans, has contributed to the evolution of weed resistance to this herbicide. Managing glyphosate resistance (by using other herbicides) is more cost-effective than ignoring resistance, and returns are greater when neighboring farmers also manage resistance.

  • The Size and Scope of Locally Marketed Food Production

    Amber Waves, February 02, 2015

    In 2012, 163,675 farmers sold an estimated $6.1 billion in local foods. "Local foods" includes food for human consumption sold via direct-to-consumer (e.g., farmers’ markets, on-farm stores, farm stands, pick-your-own activities, and other farmer-to-consumer venues) and intermediated marketing channels (sales directly to restaurants, grocers, schools, universities and other institutions).

  • Options for Improving Conservation Programs: Insights From Auction Theory and Economic Experiments

    Amber Waves, February 02, 2015

    USDA spends over $5 billion per year on conservation activities, mostly through voluntary programs that pay farmers and landowners to provide environmental services. Program design can use available information to reduce Government expenditures and encourage landowners to provide greater environmental services.

  • Options for Improving Conservation Programs: Insights from Auction Theory and Economic Experiments

    ERR-181, January 05, 2015

    Effective design of auctions for enrolling participants in Federal conservation programs could help meet program goals, reduce Government expenditures, and encourage landowners to provide greater environmental services.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production

    ERR-175, September 30, 2014

    In 2010, heat stress lowered annual milk production for the average dairy by about $39,000, or $1.2 billion for the sector. In 2030, additional heat stress from climate change may lower milk production by an estimated 0.6 to 1.35 percent.

  • Selected Charts 2014, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials

    AP-067, September 12, 2014

    Examples from ERS's updated collection of 70 charts/maps, each with accompanying text, covering key statistics on farming, food spending and prices, food security, rural communities, interaction of agriculture and the environment, and more.

  • Additionality in Agricultural Conservation Programs

    Amber Waves, September 08, 2014

    Additionality measures the extent to which conservation program payments actually encourage adoption of practices that farmers would not otherwise adopt. Estimates of additionality are high for some practices, particularly installation of soil conservation structures (e.g., terraces) and buffers (e.g., field-edge filter strips), but not as high for others (e.g., conservation tillage).

  • Agricultural Energy Use and the Proposed Clean Power Plan

    Amber Waves, September 08, 2014

    The EPA’s Clean Power Plan aims to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants, the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States, by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. To better understand how the agricultural sector might be affected, its current direct use of electric power, as well as the sector’s direct and indirect use of natural gas—is examined.

  • Natural Gas Extraction and Local Economies—No Evidence of a “Natural Resource Curse”

    Amber Waves, August 04, 2014

    In the 2000s, natural gas production from shale formations increased tenfold in the United States, and growth in production has continued through 2013. Opponents of hydraulic fracturing cite environmental concerns such as groundwater contamination and air pollution. Proponents often highlight the benefit of natural gas extraction to local and state economies.

  • U.S. Organic Trade Includes Fresh Produce Exports and Tropical Imports

    Amber Waves, August 04, 2014

    The United States has developed an active organic trade sector in recent years, with organic trade partners around the world. In 2013, the United States exported organic products consisting mostly of fresh fruits and vegetables to over 80 countries, and imported organic products including coffee, bananas, and olive oil, from nearly 100 countries. Canada and Mexico were the top trade partners.

  • Additionality in U.S. Agricultural Conservation and Regulatory Offset Programs

    ERR-170, July 28, 2014

    "Additionality," achieved when a voluntary payment to farmers causes a change in conservation practice leading to an improvement in environmental quality, varies by type of practice.

  • Managing the Costs of Reducing Agriculture’s Footprint on the Chesapeake Bay

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    Runoff from agricultural activity and other nonpoint sources contributes to adverse environmental conditions in the Chesapeake Bay, interfering with fish and shellfish production and compromising recreational opportunities. In order to meet Environmental Protection Agency goals for the Chesapeake Bay, loadings of nutrients and sediments from agricultural activity must be reduced.