Publications

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  • Direct and Intermediated Marketing of Local Foods in the United States

    ERR-128, November 04, 2011

    ERS explores farmers' use of both direct-to-consumer marketing (such as farmers markets) and intermediated channels (such as grocers and restaurants) to sell food to consumers in their local areas.

  • Economic Analysis of Base Acre and Payment Yield Designations Under the 2002 U.S. Farm Act

    ERR-12, September 19, 2005

    The 2002 Farm Act provided farmland owners the opportunity to update commodity program base acres and payment yields used for calculating selected program benefits. Findings in this report suggest that farmland owners responded to economic incentives in these decisions, selecting those options for designating base acres that resulted in the greatest expected flow of program payments. Farmland owners with high-payment base acres, such as rice and cotton, held on to these base acres and, whenever possible, expanded them. Analogously, farmland owners with low-payment commodity base acres, such as oats and barley, switched to higher payment commodities whenever possible.

  • Economic Aspects of Revenue-Based Commodity Support

    ERR-72, April 07, 2009

    ERS examines the economic effects of two theoretical scenarios in which commodity support is determined by shortfalls in farm revenue, unlike current price-based programs or yield-based assistance.

  • 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.

  • Economic Issues in Agricultural Biotechnology

    AIB-762, March 19, 2001

    This report analyzes the economic aspects of several key areas--agricultural research policy, industry structure, production and marketing, consumer issues, and future world food demand--where agricultural biotechnology is dramatically affecting the public policy agenda.

  • 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.

  • Economic Returns to Public Agricultural Research

    EB-10, September 04, 2007

    Over the last several decades, the U.S. agricultural sector has sustained impressive productivity growth. The Nation's agricultural research system, including Federal-State public research as well as private-sector research, has been a key driver of this growth. Economic analysis finds strong and consistent evidence that investment in agricultural research has yielded high returns per dollar spent. These returns include benefits not only to the farm sector but also to the food industry and consumers in the form of more abundant commodities at lower prices.

  • Economics of Water Quality Protection From Nonpoint Sources: Theory and Practice

    AER-782, November 30, 1999

    Water quality is a major environmental issue. Pollution from nonpoint sources is the single largest remaining source of water quality impairments in the United States. Agriculture is a major source of several nonpoint-source pollutants, including nutrients, sediment, pesticides, and salts. Agricultural nonpoint pollution reduction policies can be designed to induce producers to change their production practices in ways that improve the environmental and related economic consequences of production. The information necessary to design economically efficient pollution control policies is almost always lacking. Instead, policies can be designed to achieve specific environmental or other similarly related goals at least cost, given transaction costs and any other political, legal, or informational constraints that may exist. This report outlines the economic characteristics of five instruments that can be used to reduce agricultural nonpoint source pollution (economic incentives, standards, education, liability, and research) and discusses empirical research related to the use of these instruments.

  • Effects of Increased Biofuels on the U.S. Economy in 2022

    ERR-102, October 21, 2010

    ERS examines economic effects of increased biofuels in transportation fuels, called for in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Effects are measured by gross domestic product, household income, price of energy fuels, and agricultural output and trade.

  • Effects of Recent Energy Price Reductions on U.S. Agriculture

    BIO-04, June 02, 2015

    Sharply lower energy prices begun in late 2014 will benefit the agriculture sector mainly through lower transport and production costs. Energy price decreases are projected to lower production costs by about $5 billion in 2015 and in 2016.

  • Effects of Reducing the Income Cap on Eligibility for Farm Program Payments

    EIB-27, September 04, 2007

    Could a single program support farm income and encourage environmentally sound farm practices? ERS looks at some hypothetical program scenarios.

  • Emerging Issues in the U.S. Organic Industry

    EIB-55, June 03, 2009

    Consumer demand for organic products has widened over the last decade. While new producers have emerged to help meet demand, market participants report that a supply squeeze is constraining growth for both individual firms and the organic sector overall. Partly in response to shortages in organic supply, Congress in 2008 included provisions in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (2008 Farm Act) that, for the first time, provide financial support to farmers to convert to organic production. This report examines recent economic research on the adoption of organic farming systems, organic production costs and returns, and market conditions to gain a better understanding of the organic supply squeeze and other emerging issues in this rapidly changing industry.

  • Energy Consumption and Production in Agriculture

    Amber Waves, February 06, 2017

    A new ERS infographic looks at energy production and consumption in U.S. agriculture.

  • Environmental Effects of Agricultural Land-Use Change: The Role of Economics and Policy

    ERR-25, August 31, 2006

    This report examines evidence on the relationship between agricultural land-use changes, soil productivity, and indicators of environmental sensitivity. If cropland that shifts in and out of production is less productive and more environmentally sensitive than other cropland, policy-induced changes in land use could have production effects that are smaller-and environmental impacts that are greater-than anticipated. To illustrate this possibility, this report examines environmental outcomes stemming from land-use conversion caused by two agricultural programs that others have identified as potentially having important influences on land use and environmental quality: Federal crop insurance subsidies and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Nation's largest cropland retirement program.

  • Equilibrium Displacement Mathematical Programming Models: Methodology and a Model of the U.S. Agricultural Sector

    TB-1918, February 11, 2008

    The objective of this research is to extend and generalize the equilibrium displacement methodology by combining it with mathematical programming methods and existing knowledge of farm sector relationships to develop sectoral adjustment models that can operate in pure competition, monopoly/monopsony, or mixed-competition. A model of the U.S. agricultural sector at the national aggregate level is presented to illustrate the methods. An appendix contains a user's manual describing the operation of the model. Further appendices contain documentation of the structure of the spreadsheets, the programming tableau, and the SAS solution program.

  • Estimating the Substitution of Distillers' Grains for Corn and Soybean Meal in the U.S. Feed Complex

    FDS-11I01, October 13, 2011

    Corn-based dry-mill ethanol production and its coproducts - notably distillers' dried grains with soluble (DDGS) - have surged in recent years. The report estimates the potential substitution of DDGS for corn and soybean meal in livestock feeding and the impact of substitution upon the U.S. feed complex.

  • Examining Consolidation in U.S. Agriculture

    Amber Waves, March 14, 2018

    Agricultural production has shifted to larger farms over the last three decades. Technology has been the primary driver of this shift, which has been large and widespread across crop and livestock commodities. Despite the shift to larger operations, family businesses still dominate U.S. agriculture: consolidation has shifted acreage and production to larger family farms.

  • Examining Farm Sector and Farm Household Income

    Amber Waves, August 07, 2017

    The U.S. farm sector represents about 2.1 million farms. Together, these farms operate more than 900 million acres and support more than 6 million people living in the associated farm households. This article discusses the long-term trends in farm sector and farm household income, and includes estimates for 2016.

  • Expansion in Direct Payments Did Not Lead to More Crop Production

    Amber Waves, September 20, 2012

    ERS analysis finds that direct payments have little effect on agricultural production decisions. A more rigorous analysis accounting for farm and regional characteristics also found no evidence of direct payments having economically significant effects on production.

  • Experience Counts: Farm Business Survival in the U.S.

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2007

    Farming, like other businesses, exhibits high turnover, with many thousands of existing farms going out of business each year. As in other industries, new farm businesses enter at a high rate and new entrants subsequently exit at high rates, irrespective of the size of the farm or the age of the operator. Exit rates fall as businesses age to 5-9 years old, and then fall again, although modestly, for more experienced farm businesses. Experience seems to provide an important advantage to well-established businesses that can learn quickly and efficiently.