Publications

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  • Cotton Backgrounder

    CWS-07B01, March 30, 2007

    U.S. cotton growers, like producers of other agricultural commodities in recent years, have confronted pressures from market forces and the impacts of policy developments, both domestic and international. Most notably, the ending of the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA) sent a ripple effect throughout the global cotton industry. While adjustments in the textile and apparel sectors of many countries, including the United States, continue to evolve, dramatic changes have already been seen for some. World cotton mill use has accelerated along with economic growth since 1999, particularly in China, and U.S. cotton producers have benefited as foreign import demand has reached new heights. Government payments contribute a considerable portion of total revenue to the cotton sector, and adjustments to this program or any other commodity program in the 2007 farm legislation will be driven by factors such as domestic market conditions, multilateral trade negotiations, and the Federal budget deficit.

  • Impact of Rising Natural Gas Prices on U.S. Ammonia Supply

    WRS-0702, August 06, 2007

    The volatile and upward trend in U.S. natural gas prices from 2000-06 has led to a 17-percent decline in the Nation's annual aggregate supply of ammonia. During the period, U.S. ammonia production declined 44 percent, while U.S. ammonia imports increased 115 percent. Also, the share of U.S.-produced ammonia in the U.S. aggregate supply of ammonia dropped from 80 to 55 percent, while the share from imports increased from 15 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile, ammonia prices paid by farmers increased from $227 per ton in 2000 to $521 per ton in 2006, an increase of 130 percent. Natural gas is the main input used to produce ammonia. Additional increases in U.S. natural gas prices could lead to a further decline in domestic ammonia production and an even greater rise in ammonia imports.

  • The Changing Economics of U.S. Hog Production

    ERR-52, December 27, 2007

    ERS examines the economic factors that underlie the dramatic decline in number of hog operations over the past 15 years and the increasing concentration of production on large, specialized hog farms.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2017

    OCE-2008-1, February 12, 2008

    This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2017. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Factors Shaping Expanding U.S. Red Meat Trade

    LDPM-175-01, February 10, 2009

    U.S. imports and exports of red meats-beef, pork, lamb, and mutton-have expanded rapidly over the last several decades, linking livestock sectors of the United States to those of several major trading partners. Factors driving this trade growth include not only rising incomes, but also the preference of U.S. and foreign consumers for a greater variety of red meat cuts, facilitated by the expansion of free trade agreements. Changes in currency values, including the recent depreciation of the U.S. dollar against the currencies of key trading partners, have also been important influences in expanding trade in U.S. red meat products. Domestic production continues to provide the main share of beef and pork consumed in the United States, while the share of U.S. lamb consumption from imports has increased significantly. While the red meat (and poultry) markets have been punctuated by animal disease issues over the last few years, the integration of trade is expected to continue.

  • Forecasting Farm Income: Documenting USDA's Forecast Model

    TB-1924, February 12, 2009

    The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) develops and publishes estimates and forecasts of three primary measures of income and returns for the U.S. farm economy: (1) net value added, or total value of the farm sector's production of goods and services less purchases of inputs and services from other sectors of the economy; (2) net farm income, the portion of net value added earned by farm operators and others who share the risks of production, and (3) net cash income, the cash earned from sales of production and conversion of assets into cash. The USDA short-term income forecast model generates forecasts of receipts for individual commodities, Government payments for each program commodity or activity, and expenses for inputs such as fertilizer, fuel, feed, rent, and labor. The report describes the components and equations in the model, showing how components can be recombined to produce the three main measures of income.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2018

    OCE-2009-1, February 12, 2009

    This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2018. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Factors Contributing to the Recent Increase in U.S. Fertilizer Prices, 2002-08

    AR-33, February 13, 2009

    U.S. prices of fertilizer nutrients began to rise steadily in 2002 and increased sharply to historic highs in 2008 due to the combined effects of a number of domestic and global long- and shortrun supply and demand factors. From 2007 to 2008, spring nitrogen prices increased by a third, phosphate prices nearly doubled, and potash prices doubled. The price spike in 2008 reflects low inventories at the beginning of 2008 combined with the inability of the U.S. fertilizer industry to quickly adjust to surging demand or sharp declines in international supply. Declining fertilizer demand, disruption in fall applications, increased fertilizer imports (July to August), and tightening credit markets for fertilizer purchases contributed to the decline of fertilizer prices in late 2008. The prospect for strong fertilizer demand in early 2009, high raw material costs for the manufacture of fertilizers, production cutbacks, and decreasing supplies from fertilizer imports, however, could put upward pressure on U.S. fertilizer prices in spring 2009.

  • Fiber Use for Textiles and China's Cotton Textile Exports

    CWS-08I-01, March 03, 2009

    New information about the role of recycling in the textile industry and updated estimates of efficiency in spinning lower estimates of the volume of cotton fiber exported by China in the form of textiles from those of an earlier study. China's textile industry not only meets domestic demand of the world's most populous country but is also the world's largest exporter. Consequently, China is the world's largest consumer and importer of cotton, but information about China's cotton consumption is incomplete. This analysis of China's textile trade offers important insights into trends in China's cotton use and imports. The revised textile trade estimates have implications for the outlook for China's cotton consumption and imports, which this study demonstrates with an econometric model of China's textile trade.

  • Changes in Manure Management in the Hog Sector: 1998-2004

    EIB-50, March 31, 2009

    In recent years, structural changes in the hog sector, including increased farm size and regional shifts in production, have altered manure management practices. Also, changes to the Clean Water Act, State regulations, and increasing local conflicts over air quality issues, including odor, have influenced manure management decisions. This study uses data from two national surveys of hog farmers to examine how hog manure management practices vary with the scale of production and how these practices evolved between 1998 and 2004. Included are the effects of structural changes, recent policies on manure management technologies and practices, the use of nutrient management plans, and manure application rates. The findings suggest that larger hog operations are altering their manure management decisions in response to binding nutrient application constraints, and that environmental policy is contributing to the adoption of conservation compatible manure management practices.

  • Comparing Two Sources of Retail Meat Price Data

    ERR-88, November 17, 2009

    The livestock industry uses information on meat prices at different stages in the marketing system to make production decisions. When grocery stores began using electronic scanners to capture prices paid for meat, it was assumed that the livestock industry could capitalize on having these point-of-sale data available as a measure of the value of its products. This report compares scanner price data with publicly available data collected by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Of the two data types, scanner data provide more information about retail meat markets, including a wider variety of meat-cut prices, multiple measures of an average price, the volume of sales, and the relative importance of discounted prices. The scanner data sample, however, is not statistically drawn, and complicated processing requirements delay its release, which makes scanner data less useful than BLS data for analyzing current market conditions.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2019

    OCE-2010-1, February 11, 2010

    This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2019. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Next-Generation Biofuels: Near-Term Challenges and Implications for Agriculture

    BIO-01-01, May 14, 2010

    This report assesses the short-term outlook for production of next-generation biofuels and the near-term challenges facing the sector. Next-generation U.S. biofuel capacity should reach about 88 million gallons in 2010, thanks in large measure to one plant becoming commercially operational in 2010, using noncellulosic animal fat to produce green diesel. U.S. production capacity for cellulosic biofuels is estimated to be 10 million gallons for 2010, much less than the 100 million gallons originally mandated by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. Near-term sector challenges include reducing high capital and production costs, acquiring financial resources for precommercial development, developing new biomass supply arrangements, many of which will be with U.S. farmers, and overcoming the constraints of ethanol's current 10-percent blending limit with gasoline.

  • The U.S. Produce Industry and Labor: Facing the Future in a Global Economy

    ERR-106, November 12, 2010

    Fruit and vegetable production is a labor-intensive process, and over half of the hired workers employed by growers are believed to be unauthorized immigrants. Reforms to immigration laws, if they reduce the labor supply, may increase the cost of farm labor. The authors of this report assess how particular fruit and vegetable commodities might adjust if labor rates increased.

  • The U.S. and Mexican Dry Bean Sectors

    VGS-341-01, December 01, 2010

    This report examines the significance of dry bean trade to the member countries of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), provides a detailed understanding of supply, demand, and policy in the U.S. and Mexican dry bean sectors, and considers the outlook for these industries.

  • Market Issues and Prospects for U.S. Distillers' Grains Supply, Use, and Price Relationships

    FDS-10K-01, December 09, 2010

    Growth in corn dry-mill ethanol production has surged in the past several years, simultaneously creating a coproduct-distillers' grains (DDGS). Many in the U.S. feed industry were concerned about the size of this new feed source and whether it could be used entirely by the feed industry, but they also worried about the price discovery process for the product. The authors of this report provide a transparent methodology to estimate U.S. supply and consumption of DDGS. Potential domestic and export use of U.S. DDGS exceeds current production and is likely to exceed future production as ethanol production continues to grow. The authors identify the DDGS price discovery process along with the price relationships of distillers' grains, corn, and soybean meal.

  • Vegetables and Melons Outlook: February 2011

    VGS-342-01, February 03, 2011

    This report presents a financial snapshot of the U.S. vegetable and melon farms by region and farm size over three 3-year periods (1999-2007).

  • Fruit and Vegetable Planting Restrictions: Analyzing the Processing Cucumber Market

    VGS-342-02, February 10, 2011

    This report highlights the anticipated consequences of the 2008 Farm Act's Planting Transferability Pilot Program (PTPP) on processing (pickling) cucumber plantings. PTPP allows program crop growers in seven Upper Midwestern States to reduce base acres and plant select vegetables for processing on those acres without reducing Government payments on their remaining base acres.

  • USDA Agricultural Projections to 2020

    OCE-111, February 14, 2011

    This report provides longrun (10-year) projections for the agricultural sector through 2020. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

  • Consolidation and Structural Change in the U.S. Rice Sector

    RCS-11D01, April 21, 2011

    This report examines how the structure of the U.S. rice industry has evolved over the past two decades, including a reduction in the number of farms, increased average farm size, and the shifting concentration of rice production away from higher-cost production regions. The authors analyze the economic factors driving these structural changes and explore the implications of those changes for market efficiency and competitiveness of the U.S. rice industry.