Publications

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  • Half of Farm Expenditures Are Spent Locally

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    About half of all farm input and equipment expenditures were made locally in 2004. But over 40 percent of all U.S. farms are located in metro areas so that farm business expenditures may have relatively minor impacts on nearby urban communities and are unlikely to flow to more distant rural suppliers.

  • Rural Populations Have Higher Rates of Chronic Disease

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    Rural residents have higher rates of mortality, chronic disease, and disability than their urban counterparts. Special challenges that may impair the health status of rural residents include their lower socioeconomic status, higher average age, and more limited access to affordable, nearby, high-quality health care than urban residents.

  • Economic Recovery: Lessons Learned From Previous Recessions

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    The rates of employment loss and unemployment in the recent recession are about the same in metro and nonmetro areas, but based on previous recessions, nonmetro employment may recover more slowly. As in past recessions, manufacturing-dependent nonmetro counties felt the effects of the recessions sooner than other nonmetro areas. Unemployment rates continue to be lowest for the college-educated in both nonmetro and metro areas.

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    Selected statistics on agriculture and trade, diet and health, natural resources, and rural America.

  • Small Farms in the United States: Persistence Under Pressure

    EIB-63, February 18, 2010

    ERS documents the changing distribution and character of small farms as ag production becomes more concentrated. Commercially oriented small farms, those accounting for most small-farm production, continue to decline in number in the face of large-farm competition.

  • Farm Household Well-Being: Comparing Consumption- and Income-Based Measures

    ERR-91, February 12, 2010

    ERS presents, for the first time, estimates of farm households' consumption expenditures and compares them to consumption estimates for all U.S. households. Consumption can complement indicators of household income in assessing economic well-being.

  • Participation in Conservation Programs by Targeted Farmers: Beginning, Limited-Resource, and Socially Disadvantaged Operators' Enrollment Trends

    EIB-62, December 07, 2009

    Beginning, limited-resource, and socially disadvantaged farmers make up as much as 40 percent of all U.S. farms. Some Federal conservation programs contain provisions that encourage participation by such "targeted" farmers and the 2008 Farm Act furthered these efforts. This report compares the natural resource characteristics, resource issues, and conservation treatment costs on farms operated by targeted farmers with those of other participants in the largest U.S. working-lands and land retirement conservation programs. Some evidence shows that targeted farmers tend to operate more environmentally sensitive land than other farmers, have different conservation priorities, and receive different levels of payments. Data limitations preclude a definitive analysis of whether efforts to improve participation by targeted farmers hinders or enhances the conservation programs' ability to deliver environmental benefits cost effectively. But the different conservation priorities among types of farmers suggest that if a significantly larger proportion of targeted farmers participates in these programs, the programs' economic and environmental outcomes could change.

  • Changing the Definition of a “Farm” Can Affect Federal Funding

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    The Federal Government's definition of a farm affects farm statistics and influences the design and delivery of Federal farm programs. The definition also has implications for States because each State’s share of the national farm population is used to help allocate some Federal funding.

  • Rural America At A Glance, 2009 Edition

    EIB-59, September 04, 2009

    Update of an annual series, the 2009 edition of Rural America At A Glance deals with effects of the major recession on rural America. Initially, effects of the recession were mitigated in nonmetro areas by high commodity prices throughout much of 2008, but as the recession deepened, prices fell. Both nonmetro and metro areas experienced rising unemployment as manufacturing and other major employment sectors contracted, and they were similarly affected by the mortgage foreclosure crisis. However, even before the current recession, nonmetro poverty rates had risen in the growth years after the 2001 recession, against the usual trend during a time of economic expansion; the nonmetro poverty rate has exceeded the national poverty rate since 2001. The nonmetro population continued to grow in 2007 and 2008, but at less than half the rate of the metro population. Nonmetro growth is largely due to a rise in births, offsetting a decline in net migration from metro to nonmetro areas.

  • Broadband Internet Service Helping Create a Rural Digital Economy

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2009

    Investment in rural broadband Internet access seems to lead to a more competitive rural economy and rural economic growth, helping create a rural digital economy. A comparison of the economic growth of counties with broadband access in 2000 with that of otherwise similar counties without broadband shows that broadband availability helped spur the formation of new businesses and increased the growth of existing firms.

  • Health Status and Health Care Access of Farm and Rural Populations

    EIB-57, August 17, 2009

    ERS examines available research on health status trends of farm and rural households, their health care coverage and expenditures, and access to health care resources in rural and urban areas.

  • Broadband Internet's Value for Rural America

    ERR-78, August 17, 2009

    Broadband access is necessary to fully utilize Internet potential, and rural areas without broadband access may be disadvantaged. ERS examines recent growth in broadband access in rural areas and the impacts of broadband on their economies.

  • Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America

    ERR-79, August 10, 2009

    If baby boomers follow past migration patterns, the nonmetro population age 55-75 will increase by 30 percent between now and 2020, with some rural communities affected more than others.

  • Indicators- Amber Waves - June 2009

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2009

    Selected statistics on agriculture and trade, diet and health, natural resources, and rural America from June 2009.

  • An Illustrated Guide to Research Findings from USDA's Economic Research Service

    EIB-48, April 01, 2009

    This book contains a sampling of recent ERS research illustrating the breadth of the Agency's research on current policy issues: from biofuels to food consumption to land conservation to patterns of trade for agricultural products.

  • Rural Broadband At A Glance, 2009 Edition

    EIB-47, February 27, 2009

    Six-page brochure presents information and data on broadband availability and use, and the relationship of broadband to rural businesses and to key services for rural residents.

  • The Roles of Economists in the U.S. Department of Agriculture

    AP-031, January 02, 2009

    Among the many responsibilities of USDA are implementing the Food Stamp Program and other food and nutrition assistance programs; managing Federal forest land; implementing standards of humane care and treatment of animals; providing incentives for adopting wildlife habitat enhancements and other conservation practices; participating in trade negotiations; ensuring the safety of meat, poultry, and eggs; providing funds for rural business development; and implementing farm programs legislated by Congress. The Department has a broad mandate, and virtually everything with which it is charged has economic dimensions. It is not surprising, then, that USDA employs over 800 economists across 16 of its agencies.

  • Rural America At A Glance, 2008 Edition

    EIB-40, October 31, 2008

    Rural America At A Glance, 2008 Edition highlights the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas for use in developing policies and programs to assist rural areas. The 2008 edition focuses on employment, poverty, population change, and demographic characteristics of nonmetro areas.

    Listen to a podcast 16x16 Multimedia - Podcast based on this report.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2008

    Research area charts from the September 2008 issue of Amber Waves.

  • Defining the “Rural” in Rural America

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2008

    The use of different definitions of rural by Federal agencies reflects the multidimensional qualities of rural America.