Publications

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  • World Agriculture and Climate Change: Economic Adaptations

    AER-703, June 01, 1995

    Recent studies suggest that possible global increases in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns during the next century will affect world agriculture. Because of the ability of farmers to adapt , however, these changes are not likely to imperil world food production. Nevertheless, world production of all goods and services may decline, if climate change is severe enough or if cropland expansion is hindered. Impacts are not equally distributed around the world.

  • Estimating the Net Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol

    AER-721, July 01, 1995

    Studies conducted since the late 1970's have estimated the net energy value of corn ethanol. However, variations in data and assumptions used among the studies have resulted in a wide range of estimates. This study identifies the factors causing this wide variation and develops a more consistent estimate. We conclude that the net energy value of corn ethanol has become positive in recent years due to technological advances in ethanol conversion and increased efficiency in farm production. We show that corn ethanol is energy efficient as indicated by an energy ratio of 1.24.

  • The Spice Market in the United States: Recent Developments and Prospects

    AIB-709, July 03, 1995

    On both a volume and value basis, the United States is the world's largest spice importer and consumer, with both imports and consumption on an uptrend for the past 10 years. While the United States imports more than 40 separate spices, seven of these (vanilla beans, black and white pepper, capsicums, sesame seed, cinnamon, mustard, and oregano) account for more than 75 percent of the total annual value of spice imports. While the United States imports spices from more than 50 countries, 5 of these countries (Indonesia, Mexico, India, Canada, and China) regularly account for one-half of the annual value of spice imports. The United States produces nearly 40 percent of its annual spice needs, with imports supplying the remainder. Growing domestic production consists of capsicum peppers, mustard seed, dehydrated onion and garlic, and herbs. U.S. spice exports have also been expanding in recent years, led by dehydrated garlic and onion. Rising domestic use of spices reflects growing Hispanic and Asian populations, a trend toward the use of spices to compensate for less salt and lower fat levels in foods, and heightened popularity of ethnic foods from Asia and Latin America.

  • Industrial Uses of Agricultural Materials Situation and Outlook Report (5)

    IUS-5, September 01, 1995

    Research and market demand are opening new opportunities for agriculturally based industrial materials. If biodiesel is approved as a certified technology for the Urban Bus Retrofit Rebuild Program, U.S. transit operations would be able to use it to meet air-quality regulations without any change in operability and maintenance. Ethanol sales in the reformulated gasoline market have been strong, despite the court-ordered elimination of the renewable oxygenate requirement. Cornstarch is used to make xanthan gum, a popular ingredient in food, pharmaceuticals, and industrial products. In 1994, an estimated supply of 10.8 billion pounds of cotton lint, linters, motes, and textile wastes were available for industrial purposes. Essential oils and their derivatives are widely used as flavors and fragrances, a market estimated to be worth $9 billion. A special article examines the expected costs of operating a bus fleet on three different alternative fuels-biodiesel, compressed natural gas (CNG), and methanol-with petroleum diesel as the base fuel.

  • The Conservation Reserve Program: Enrollment Statistics for Signup Periods 1-12 and Fiscal Years 1986-93

    SB-925, November 01, 1995

    This report is fifth in an ERS series summarizing CRP participation. Finds that more than 36 million acres were enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in signup periods 1-12, held during 1986-92. This acreage includes over 23 million commodity program base acres and nearly 2.5 million tree acres. Annual CRP rental payments average about $50 per acre, and annual soil erosion reductions average 19 tons per acre.

  • Tracking Foodborne Pathogens from Farm to Table: Data Needs to Evaluate Control Options

    MP-1532, December 01, 1995

    The proceedings from the January 9-10, 1995 conference in Washington, DC, held by members of Regional Research Project NE-165, a group of more than 70 economists at land grant universities and government agencies conducting research on the food system. Topics covered include human foodborne disease, susceptibility, and food consumption data; tracking foodborne pathogen data from farm to retail; integrating data for risk management; and a policy roundtable concerning how food safety data and analysis can help in program and policy design.

  • Who Are Retired Farm Operators?

    AER-730, May 01, 1996

    Approximately 352,000 farm operators, generally running very small farms, were identified as retired according to the 1993 Farm Costs and Returns Survey (FCRS). Although retired farmers operated 17 percent of all farms, they produced only 2 percent of the value of production. The information presented here has implications for the use of statistics on farming, the importance of farming to retired operators, the importance of the Conservation Reserve Program to retired operators, and the future of farming.

  • Agricultural Research and Development: Public and Private Investments Under Alternative Markets and Institutions

    AER-735, May 01, 1996

    Empirical studies indicate high economic returns from the public's investment in agricultural research. Yet, even as society is placing broader demands on the research system, taxpayer support for public agricultural research is unlikely to increase. Stronger ownership rights for intellectual property have increased incentives for private investment in agricultural research, but key elements still require direct public support. The USDA is developing new mechanisms to build a more effective public-private partnership in agricultural research.

  • Exploring Linkages Among Agriculture, Trade, and the Environment: Issues for the Next Century

    AER-738, May 01, 1996

    Many trade and environment issues will confront agriculture over the next several years. This report provides an economic framework to better understand these issues and discusses prior empirical inquiries and findings. Four primary issues are addressed: (1) how will environmental policies affect agricultural trade?; (2) how will agricultural trade liberalization affect environmental quality?; (3) to what extent should there be international harmonization of environmental policies and product standards?; and (4) is there economic justification for using trade measures to protect the environment? This report demonstrates that basic economic paradigms can provide a basis for understanding how trade and the environment interact. The few empirical studies based on these concepts have found many of the linkages between trade and the environment to be weak or the effects small. Trade and environment issues remain important to monitor, however, because economic and environmental relationships and domestic and international policies are continually evolving, and decisionmakers need good information to confirm or disprove the numerous hypotheses that have surfaced in international discussions.

  • Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change: Issues of Longrun Sustainability

    AER-740, June 01, 1996

    Early evaluations of the effects of climate change on agriculture, which did not account for economic adjustments or consider the broader economic and environmental implications of such changes, overestimated the negative effects of climate change. This report, which highlights ERS research, focuses on economic adaptation and concludes there is considerably more sectoral flexibility and adaptability than found in other analyses. The report frames the discussion of economic adjustments within the context of global agricultural environmental sustainability.

  • The Cotton Industry In The United States

    AER-739, July 01, 1996

    The United States produces nearly 20 percent of the world's cotton and ranks second to China as the largest producing country. While over 80 countries produce cotton, the United States, China, India, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan (former Soviet republic) produce about 74 percent of the total world cotton supply.

  • Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Rural Areas: Progress and Stagnation

    AER-731, August 01, 1996

    Rural minorities lag behind rural Whites and urban minorities on many crucial economic and social measures. This report examines rural Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian and Pacific Islander populations and their economic well-being in the 1980's, an economically difficult decade for rural areas. Results show minimal minority progress as measured by changes in occupation, income, and poverty rates. However, the type and speed of progress was quite different among minority groups and between men and women of the same minority group. Results showed considerable diversity among groups in the characteristics that were associated with poor economic outcomes.

  • The 1996 Farm Act Increases Market Orientation

    AIB-726, August 01, 1996

    The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, a milestone in U.S. agricultural policy, provides new farm sector law for 1996-2002, fundamentally redesigning income support programs and discontinuing supply management programs for producers of many commodities. This bulletin provides a general overview of major changes related to production agriculture resulting from the commodity provisions, agricultural trade provisions, and conservation provisions of the Act.

  • Bacterial Foodborne Disease: Medical Costs and Productivity Losses

    AER-741, August 01, 1996

    Microbial pathogens in food cause an estimated 6.5-33 million cases of human illness and up to 9,000 deaths in the United States each year. Over 40 different foodborne microbial pathogens, including fungi, viruses, parasites, and bacteria, are believed to cause human illnesses. For six bacterial pathogens, the costs of human illness are estimated to be $9.3-$12.9 billion annually. Of these costs, $2.9-$6.7 billion are attributed to foodborne bacteria. These estimates were developed to provide analytical support for USDA's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems rule for meat and poultry. (Note that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii is not included in this report.) To estimate medical costs and productivity losses, ERS uses four severity categories for acute illnesses: those who did not visit a physician, visited a physician, were hospitalized, or died prematurely. The lifetime consequences of chronic disease are included in the cost estimates for E. coli O157:H7 and fetal listeriosis.

  • Provisions of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996

    AIB-729, September 01, 1996

    This report provides an item-by-item description and explanation of the new Act, which will guide agricultural programs from 1996-2000. Signed into law in April, the act makes significant changes in long-standing U.S. agricultural policies. Major changes in U.S. commodity programs are included in the Act's Title I, known as the Agricultural Market Transition Act.

  • Costs and Benefits of Cleaning U.S. Soybeans: Overview and Implications

    AER-736, September 02, 1996

    Cleaning is not the solution to the soybean cleanliness issue. The costs of additional cleaning of all export soybeans to remove foreign material (FM) beyond the current level would, at minimum, exceed the domestic and international benefits by $20 million per year even if cleaning occurs at the least net-cost locations-river elevators and inland subterminals. Producers and handlers in the South would bear a disproportionate share of the net costs because of higher soybean FM level and larger export share of soybean production than the Corn Belt. Lowering soybean FM by altering production and harvesting practices offers an alternative to mechanical cleaning (a small percentage of producers can do so at little additional cash cost), but its cost-effectiveness needs to be evaluated more fully before adoption. Despite foreign buyers' preference for clean soybeans, foreign material is regarded as less critical than protein, oil, and moisture contents.

  • APEC Agriculture and Trade: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Region Buying More U.S. Consumer-Ready Food Products

    AER-734, September 11, 1996

    In fiscal 1995, more than 60 percent of U.S. farm exports, worth a record $33 billion, went to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum members. Bulk exports showed the most dramatic growth, benefiting greatly from China's conversion from a net grain exporter into a major net importer. Chinese imports are projected to increase further over the long term. Continued trade liberalization throughout APEC, rapid economic growth in its developing economies, and limited arable land in China and East Asia will ensure continued growth in U.S. farm exports to APEC markets-especially meat for East Asia and grains for China and Southeast Asia.

  • Economic Implications of Cleaning Soybeans in the United States

    AER-737, September 23, 1996

    Overall, the costs of delivering cleaner soybeans on a universal basis exceed domestic benefits. The cost of cleaning export soybeans beyond current levels at the least net-cost locations (both river elevators and inland subterminals), at minimum, exceeds domestic benefits by $26 million per year. However, a small percentage of producers could lower soybean foreign material (FM) with no or little additional cost by changing harvesting and handling practices. Most FM originates from the farm. Although soybean cleaning is not common, producers can alter production and harvesting practices to reduce FM, which mainly consists of plant parts, broken beans, weed seed, and dirt. One strategy to address the soybean cleanliness issue is to create incentives for producers to alter production and harvesting practices, such as better weed control and combine adjustment.

  • Industrial Uses of Agricultural Materials Situation and Outlook Report (6)

    IUS-6, October 16, 1996

    With U.S. farmers now facing few restrictions on what they can plant, industrial crops will need to stay competitive-economically and agronomically-with other crops to ensure their continued viability. The 1996 Farm Act, which provides expanded planting flexibility, makes expected market returns and crop rotation needs or desires important factors as farmers decide which commodities to produce. In 1995/96, industrial uses of corn are expected to total 622 million bushels, down 18 percent from the previous year, mainly due to lower use for ethanol. Ethanol producers are in the midst of a financial squeeze, resulting from rapidly rising corn prices, only moderate gains in coproduct prices, and relatively stable ethanol prices. Tung oil is being produced in the United States for the first time since 1973. Crambe is again being grown in North Dakota after a year of no commercial production. Biodiesel commercialization faces a number of regulatory and market challenges in the United States. Approximately 37 million metric tons of paper and wood materials were recovered for recycling in 1994, providing a renewable source of inputs to manufacturers. Phytoremediation, the systematic use of plants to treat environmental contamination, is a potential low-cost technology that is being investigated to help meet environmental regulations. A special article examines possible biodiesel demand in three niche fuel markets-Federal fleets, mining, and marine/estuary areas-and estimates the potential impact on U.S. agriculture if soybean oil was used as the raw material for the biodiesel.

  • Economic Implications of Cleaning Barley in the United States

    AER-745, November 01, 1996

    The costs of cleaning barley beyond the current level of cleanliness would outweigh the potential benefits. There is little commercial interest in the cleaning of barley moving into domestic malting and feed barley markets. The export market demand is primarily for feed barley.