Publications

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  • Partial Interests in Land: Policy Tools for Resource Use and Conservation

    AER-744, November 29, 1996

    Property rights arise out of law, custom, and the operation of private markets, with important implications for how land and other natural resources are used and conserved. Over the past several years, debate about the nature and scope of property rights has combined with budget concerns and reauthorization of the Farm Bill, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act to focus public attention on Federal natural resource policy. This report examines the nature of land ownership and the evolving Federal role in land use and conservation, with particular attention to the voluntary acquisition and conveyance of conservation easements and other partial interests in land.

  • Farmers' Use of Marketing and Production Contracts

    AER-747, December 01, 1996

    Contracts are an integral part of the production and marketing of selected livestock commodities, such as broilers, turkeys, eggs, and milk. Such crops as fruit, vegetables, and sugar beets and cane are mostly produced under contracts. In the past, farm receipts were assumed to be distributed across all farm families in proportion to their production. Today, contractors receive a large share of farm receipts, formerly assumed to go to the operator's family. Contractors typically bear a large share of production and price risk, and earn the majority of net income from the commodity's production. Farmers may benefit by being able to expand their operations more rapidly than otherwise possible--perhaps with less debt and fewer financial risks.

  • The Future of China's Grain Market

    AIB-730, December 23, 1996

    China's demand for grain is likely to outpace domestic supplies in the next 10 years, according to ERS projections. By the year 2005, China will become a net importer of 32 million metric tons of grain annually. In the last two decades, China's grain trade has expanded dramatically, both as a buyer and a seller. Both China and the United States are major grain producers. How the grain trade between the two nations develops will be important to both agricultural economies. It is doubtful that China's farmers will be able to produce enough grain to keep pace with population gains and increased demand for feed grains to produce meat, eggs, and milk products for consumers.

  • The Diets of America's Children: Influences of Dining Out, Household Characteristics, and Nutrition Knowledge

    AER-746, December 31, 1996

    Recent USDA surveys point out several shortcomings in children's diets. The share of calories from total and saturated fat averaged 4 and 3 percentage points above the recommendations. The sodium intake averaged 23 percent above the 2,400 milligrams recommended by some authorities. These dietary problems start early in childhood and continue into adulthood. Additionally, only a small fraction of female adolescents met the recommended intakes for calcium, fiber, and iron. Compared with home foods, away-from-home foods were higher in total and saturated fat and lower in cholesterol, fiber, calcium, iron, and sodium. With increasing popularity in dining out, efforts to improve children's diets may need strengthening.

  • Structural and Financial Characteristics of U.S. Farms, 1993: 18th Annual Family Farm Report to Congress

    AIB-728, January 17, 1997

    In 1993, the 2.1 million farms in the contiguous United States operated an average of 436 acres and produced an average of $73,700 in agricultural products, as measured by gross sales. Characteristics of individual farms--including their level of production--varied widely, however. Most production occurred on relatively few commercial farms. Commercial farms (sales of $50,000 or more) were only 27 percent of U.S. farms, but accounted for about 90 percent of sales. Households with noncommercial farms (sales less than $50,000) relied on off-farm sources for virtually all of their income. U.S. farms are diverse, and variation within the industry is hidden by U.S. averages.

  • U.S. Export Performance in Agricultural Markets

    TB-1854, February 01, 1997

    This report develops a method, called trade-share accounting (TSA), that establishes the relationship between trade structure and market share. U.S. market shares are commonly used as measures of export performance in international markets and are frequently cited statistics in USDA publications. A drop in the U.S. market share is not necessarily associated with displaced U.S. sales from competing suppliers. Accurate interpretation of change in the agricultural market share requires understanding of the changing structure of world trade.

  • Changes in the Social and Economic Status of Women by Metro-Nonmetro Residence

    AIB-732, February 01, 1997

    Between 1980 and the mid-1990's, the earnings of American women and men became more equal. The narrowing of the earnings gap reflects a number of changes in women's life experiences (delayed marriage and childbearing, increased labor force participation, greater educational equity with men), as well as lower wages for men. This study presents a review and an appraisal of the advancement of women, especially nonmetropolitan women, during the 1980's and mid-1990's. High poverty rates among nonmetro women are cause for public policy concern. This report originated from a request to review the Draft Platform for Action for the Fourth U.N. World Conference on Women held in September 1995 in Beijing, China.

  • Profile of Hired Farmworkers, 1994 Annual Averages

    AER-748, February 03, 1997

    Hired farmworkers continue to earn less than all wage and salary workers, but the wage gap has narrowed. The median weekly earnings for hired farmworkers in 1994 were $238, an increase of 19 percent (5 percent when adjusted for inflation) from 1990; median weekly earnings for all wage and salary workers increased by 11 percent (a 2-percent decrease in real terms).

  • Issues in Rural Health: How Will Measures to Control Medicare Spending Affect Rural Communities?

    AIB-734, March 01, 1997

    The Federal Medicare program provides subsidized health insurance for one in every seven Americans. Medicare covers a higher proportion of rural than urban residents because rural residents are more likely to be elderly or disabled persons entitled to benefits. The rapid growth of Medicare expenditures has prompted legislative proposals to control the increase in spending. This report finds that the proposals may have a greater effect on rural than urban communities due to the higher proportion of Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas.

  • Credit in Rural America

    AER-749, April 01, 1997

    In response to a mandate in the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, this report provides information on the major financial institutions and Federal programs active in rural America, the performance of rural financial markets, and the costs and benefits of proposals to expand the lending authority of the Farm Credit System (FCS) and commercial bank access to FCS funds. After examining available data on agricultural, housing, small business, and community development loans, lenders, and programs, this report concludes that rural financial markets work reasonably well in serving the financial needs of these sectors of the rural economy. While localized financial market problems exist in some rural communities, and not all segments of the rural economy are equally well served, financial market failures are neither endemic to nor epidemic in rural America. Therefore, policies which provide untargeted subsidies to a broad range of rural lenders or borrowers such as those examined in this report are unlikely to be cost effective. While the proposals we examined to expand FCS lending authority and bank access to FCS funds would benefit their sponsors and some rural communities, they would do little to address rural credit market imperfections and, at the national level, their associated costs would outweigh their benefits.

  • Characteristics and Risk Management Needs of Limited-Resource and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers

    AIB-733, April 01, 1997

    Small U.S. farms and those run by socially disadvantaged minority operators tend not to purchase insurance or to participate in insurance-type programs operated by USDA. This report traces the lack of use of such risk management measures to several characteristics of such farmers, who include females, blacks, American Indians, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and operators of Spanish origin. These farmers tend, more than the typical U.S. farm, to raise livestock rather than crops, and there are no government-sponsored insurance-type programs for livestock.

  • Globalization of the Processed Foods Market

    AER-742, April 02, 1997

    International commerce in processed foods substantially exceeds the value of unprocessed agricultural commodities and is expanding more rapidly. International trade in processed foods has been the most rapidly growing portion of world food and agricultural trade during the past decade. Even more significant, however, are sales from foreign affiliates of food manufacturing, grocery wholesaling and retailing, and food service firms. Foreign affiliation is acquired through foreign direct investment in foreign plants and facilities. U.S. food manufacturers' sales through foreign affiliates were more than quadruple the value of processed food exports from the United States. Foreign food manufacturers' sales through U.S. affiliates were more than double the value of processed food exports to the United States. Patterns of global commerce in processed foods are influenced by public policies addressing transportation, communication, rules for regional and multinational trade, food product and process standards, the environment, and intellectual property.

  • The Food Marketing System in 1995

    AIB-731, April 15, 1997

    The number of new food processing plants rose sharply in 1995. Profitability from food manufacturing and retailing operations (excluding interest expense) continued to increase, reflecting strong sales, wage and producer price stability, and streamlining of operations. The number of mergers and leveraged buyouts fell. New product introductions, consumer advertising expenditures, common stock prices and the positive U.S. balance of trade in processed food reached new highs. This report analyzes and assesses yearly developments in growth, conduct, performance, and structure of the institutions--food processors, wholesalers, retailers, and foodservice firms--that comprise the Nation's food marketing system. Industry growth includes changes in sales for each of the four sectors, product mix, and external economic factors affecting the food system. Conduct measures firms' competitive behavior, which includes such price and nonprice competition as advertising, promotion, new product introduction, new store formats, price discounting, and menu variety. Performance includes profitability, capital expansion, foreign trade and investment, research and development, capacity use, equity market changes, and productivity. Structure developments include mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and leveraged buyouts, and changes in the number of companies and establishments.

  • Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2005, Reflecting the 1996 Farm Act

    WAOB-971, April 23, 1997

    This report provides long-run baseline projections for the agricultural sector through 2005 that incorporate provisions of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (1996 Farm Act). The baseline assumes that the new farm legislation remains in effect through 2005. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices. Generally favorable global economic growth is projected in the baseline which, combined with liberalized trade associated with both the GATT agreement and unilateral policy reforms, supports strong growth in global trade and U.S. agricultural exports. Greater market orientation in the domestic agricultural sector under the 1996 Farm Act puts U.S. farmers in a favorable position for competing in the global marketplace. A tightening of the balance between productive capacity and demands results in rising nominal market prices, increasing farm income, and stability in the financial condition of the agricultural sector. However, management of risk will be important for farmers. With the reduced role of the Government in the sector under the 1996 Farm Act, farmers in general face greater risk of income volatility due to price variation, reflecting market price variability more directly. Consumer food prices are projected to continue a long term trend of rising less than the general inflation rate. The baseline projections presented are one representative scenario for the agricultural sector through the middle of the next decade, assuming no shocks and based on specific assumptions regarding macroeconomic conditions, policy, weather, and international developments. As such, the baseline provides a point of departure for discussion of alternative farm sector outcomes that could result under different assumptions. The projections in this report were prepared in October through December 1996, reflecting a composite of model results and judgmental analysis.

  • International Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2005

    AER-750, May 01, 1997

    This report provides baseline projections for international supply, demand, and trade for major agricultural commodities to 2005. It is a companion report to Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2005, Reflecting the 1996 Farm Act (WAOB-97-1), providing the foreign country detail supporting those projections. Projections of strong global economic growth, particularly in developing countries, combined with more open foreign markets and the emergence of China as a major bulk commodity importer, support strong projected gains in U.S. farm exports. The value of total U.S. agricultural exports is projected to rise from a record $59.8 billion in FY 1996 to nearly $80 billion in 2005. The projections are a conditional scenario, assuming the continuation of 1996 U.S. farm legislation through 2005, no shocks, average weather, and specific macroeconomic and foreign country policy assumptions. The projections were completed based on information available as of January 1997, and reflect a composite of model results and analyst judgment.

  • The Impact of China and Taiwan Joining the World Trade Organization on U.S. and World Agricultural Trade: A Computable General Equilibrium Analysis

    TB-1858, May 01, 1997

    This report quantifies the potential impact of China's and Taiwan's accession to the World Trade Organization on U.S. and world agricultural trade by means of a 12-region, 14-sector computable general equilibrium model for world trade and production. Integrating China and Taiwan into the global trading system could increase total world exports by as much as $78 billion (1992 constant prices), total world imports by $94 billion, and world real consumption by $45 billion annually, as well as induce more competition on labor-intensive products and reduce their prices.

  • Proceedings of the Third National IPM Symposium/Workshop

    MP-1542, May 01, 1997

    The Third National IPM Symposium/Workshop took place in Washington, D.C., from February 27 through March 1, 1996. More than 600 participants from around the country attended the symposium/workshop reflecting a wide spectrum of professional interests including scientists (social, biological, and environmental), agricultural producers, and representatives of agribusiness and non-profit organizations. Two dominant themes provided a unifying focus. ""Putting Customers First"" focused on reaching out to the diverse customer base of USDA programs to identify IPM research and implementation needs. ""Assessing IPM Program Impacts"" addressed how to incorporate economic, environmental, and public health assessment in IPM research and extension activities. Other topics covered included analytical and data needs for pest-management programs, policies for promoting biological and reduced risk alternatives, and overcoming barriers to increased adoption of IPM practices and technologies.

  • Benefits of Safer Drinking Water: The Value of Nitrate Reduction

    AER-752, June 01, 1997

    Nitrates in drinking water, which may come from nitrogen fertilizers applied to crops, are a potential health risk. This report evaluates the potential benefits of reducing human exposure to nitrates in the drinking water supply. In a survey, respondents were asked a series of questions about their willingness to pay for a hypothetical water filter, which would reduce their risk of nitrate exposure. If nitrates in the respondent's drinking water were to exceed the EPA minimum safety standard, they would be willing to pay $45 to $60, per household, per month, to reduce nitrates in their drinking water to the minimum safety standard. There are 2.9 million households in the four regions studied (White River area of Indiana, Central Nebraska, Lower Susquehanna, and Mid-Columbia Basin in Washington). If all households potentially at risk were protected from excessive nitrates in drinking water the estimated benefits would be $350 million.

  • Financial Performance of U.S. Commercial Farms, 1991-94

    AER-751, June 01, 1997

    Commercial farms represent only 27 percent of farms in the United States, yet produce just over 75 percent of the value of agricultural products. These commercial farm businesses vary greatly by size, commodities produced, financial status, and operator demographics. Overall financial performance shows that the proportion of farms experiencing extreme financial stress remained stable over the last few years, and is considerably less than in the 1980s. Even as record levels of gross farm income are earned in this sector, expenses have increased as well, leaving farms in 1994 with average net farm income relatively stable in nominal terms over the previous 4 years.

  • Changing Consumer Food Prices: A User's Guide to ERS Analyses

    TB-1862, June 01, 1997

    ERS uses different economic models to estimate the impact of higher input prices on consumer food prices. This technical bulletin compares three ERS models. In the first two models (referred to as shortrun models), neither consumers nor food producers respond to market prices. In the third model (a longrun model), both consumers and food producers respond to changing prices. The authors simulated the impact of a higher energy price on consumer food prices. The empirical findings are consistent with expected market responses. In the short run, the effect of an increase in the price of energy is fully (or nearly fully) passed on to consumers, because neither food producers nor consumers can immediately respond to changing prices. In the long run, however, the price response of food producers and consumers serves to mitigate the increase in consumer food prices.