Publications

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  • Science, Technology, and Prospects for Growth in U.S. Corn Yields

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    Recent increases in inflation-adjusted crop prices have sparked renewed interest in the potential for continued increases in crop yields. Investment in scientific research is key for boosting corn yields, making productivity, environmental, and bioenergy goals easier to attain.

  • 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.

  • Summer Weather Most Important for Corn and Soybean Yields

    Amber Waves, October 24, 2013

    To measure the impact of weather on crops, ERS developed statistical models for corn and soybean yields based on 25 years of historical data. July tends to be the most important month for determining corn yields since many of the critical stages of crop development, particularly pollination, typically occur during that month. Weather in both July and August are important for soybean yields.

  • Technology, Organization, and Financial Performance in U.S. Broiler Production

    EIB-126, June 19, 2014

    The broiler industry relies greatly on production contracts, with payment based on performance relative to other producers. Productivity improvements reflect developments in genetics, feed formulations, and housing technologies.

  • The Changing Organization of U.S. Farming

    EIB-88, December 02, 2011

    Using survey and census data, ERS examines how changes in farm input use, business arrangements, structure, and production practices since the 1980s combined to expand output without increasing the total use of inputs.

  • The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture: Scale, Efficiency, and Risks

    EIB-43, January 23, 2009

    ERS details the nature, causes, and effects of structural changes in U.S. livestock production as it shifts to larger, more specialized, and more tightly integrated enterprises.

  • U.S. Agricultural Growth and Productivity: An Economywide Perspective

    AER-758, January 01, 1998

    Growth of U.S. agriculture is dependent on increases in productivity, three-fourths of which is accounted for by public investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) and infrastructure, according to this research. Productivity growth in U.S. agriculture benefits consumers by putting downward pressure on real primary and processed food prices. Moreover, maintaining export growth in international markets relies on relative productivity growth against major competitors. Public investments in agricultural R&D have stagnated since the mid-1970's, raising questions about sustained productivity growth in U.S. agriculture.

  • U.S. Agricultural Productivity Growth: The Past, Challenges, and the Future

    Amber Waves, September 08, 2015

    Since 1948, U.S. agricultural productivity has more than doubled, enabling farmers to feed more people with less land and labor. Output growth is attributed to the growth in total inputs used and in technology advancement, or total factor productivity (TFP). Agricultural output growth today is more dependent on TFP growth than in the past.

  • U.S. Agricultural R&D in an Era of Falling Public Funding

    Amber Waves, November 10, 2016

    U.S. private sector funding in food and agricultural R&D has risen rapidly over the last decade, surpassing public sector funding. Falling public sector funding for agricultural R&D in the U.S. and greater spending by some other nations have reduced the U.S. share in public agricultural R&D worldwide.

  • U.S. Agriculture, 1960-96: A Multilateral Comparison of Total Factor Productivity

    TB-1895, May 21, 2001

    This study provides estimates of the growth and relative levels of agricultural productivity for the 48 contiguous States for the period 1960 to 1996. For the full 1960-96 period, every State exhibits a positive and generally substantial average annual rate of productivity growth. There is considerable variance, however. The wide disparity in growth rates resulted in substantial changes in the ranking order of States by productivity. For each year, we calculate the coefficient of variation of productivity levels. We use these coefficients to show that the range of levels of productivity has narrowed over time, although the pattern of convergence was far from uniform. The fact that in some States, productivity grew faster than others and yet the cross-section dispersion decreased, implies that the States whose productivity grew most rapidly were those with lower initial levels of productivity. This result is consistent with Gerschenkron's notion of the advantage of relative backwardness. The States that were particularly far behind the productivity leaders had the most to gain from the diffusion of technical knowledge and proceeded to grow most rapidly. We also observe a positive relation between capital accumulation and productivity growth, implying embodiment of technology in capital.

  • U.S. Hog Production From 1992 to 2009: Technology, Restructuring, and Productivity Growth

    ERR-158, October 23, 2013

    With most hogs now grown on very large operations and with productivity-enhancing technologies widespread, the slowdown in hog farm productivity growth after 2004 suggests that the era of dramatic productivity gains may be over.

  • Weather Effects on Expected Corn and Soybean Yields

    FDS-13G-01, July 26, 2013

    Weather during the growing season is critical for corn and soybean yields. Models for U.S. corn and soybean yields provide estimates of the effects of weather on yields for those crops.

  • Weights, Measures, and Conversion Factors for Agricultural Commodities and Their Products

    AH-697, June 01, 1992

    This handbook is a compilation of weights, measures, and conversion factors used for agricultural commodities and their products. Several of the conversion factors and values shown in this handbook can be applied to many commodities. Some factors and values relate to specific commodities or products. This handbook supersedes Statistical Bulletin No. 616, Conversion Factors and Weights and Measures for Agricultural Commodities and Their Products (1979). When feasible, general purpose tables were updated to reflect changes in agricultural production and marketing. Considerable emphasis was given to metric measures.

  • 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.

  • 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.