Publications

Sort by: Title | Date
  • Federal Crop Insurance Is Associated With Higher Levels of Short-Term Farm Debt

    Amber Waves, October 05, 2015

    Federal crop insurance (FCI) has become a key component of U.S. farm policy. FCI provides farmers with subsidized insurance against unanticipated declines in market prices or yields. U.S. farm businesses that use FCI use more short-term debt (or operating loans) than farms without insurance, and this pattern holds even after accounting for other farm characteristics.

  • Federal Crop Insurance Options for Upland Cotton Farmers and Their Revenue Effects

    ERR-218, October 27, 2016

    ERS explains the mechanics of two “shallow loss” insurance options offered to upland cotton producers under the 2014 Farm Act, provides estimates of their potential for reducing producers’ revenue risk, and examines enrollment levels.

  • Federal Funding in Rural America Goes Far Beyond Agriculture

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2009

    For the first time in the nearly 40 years that ERS has been analyzing the geographic distribution of Federal spending, rural areas received more in total per capita Federal funding ($7,473) in fiscal year (FY) 2005 than urban areas ($7,391).

  • Federal Income Tax Reform and the Potential Effects on Farm Households

    Amber Waves, February 21, 2013

    The elements common to many reform proposals--eliminating tax preferences, restructuring capital gains and dividend rates, lowering marginal rates, and reducing the number of tax brackets--could affect the well-being of farm households.

  • Feed Grains Backgrounder

    FDS-07C01, March 30, 2007

    The U.S. feed grain sector, largest of the major U.S. field crops, faces unprecedented demand conditions. The size and speed of the expanding use of corn by the ethanol industry is raising widespread issues throughout U.S. agriculture. Debate is ongoing over the use of grain for fuel instead of for food or feed and the adequacy of future grain supplies. Increased productivity (yield) and additional area from land planted to competing crops, land enrolled in conservation programs, or idled land is expected to provide an increased supply of feed grains. The outlook is for higher feed grain prices, in part, as a result of renewable energy policies and high energy prices, with feed grain prices rising above farm program support levels. During the ongoing farm policy debate, the U.S. feed grain sector faces uncertainty about the future level and type of government support.

  • Feed Outlook: April 2009

    FDS-09D01, April 01, 2009

    The byproducts of making ethanol, sweeteners, syrups, and oils used to be considered less valuable than the primary products. But the increased livestock-feed market for such byproducts in the past few years has switched that perception to one of the ethanol industry making grain-based "co-products" that have market value separate from the primary products. Co-products such as dried distiller's grains, corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal, corn oil, solubles, and brewer's grains have become economically viable components, along with traditional ingredients (such as corn, soybean meal, and urea), in feed rations.

  • Fibers: Background for 1990 Farm Legislation

    AIB-591, March 01, 1990

    This report provides an overview of the cotton, wool, and mohair sectors and addresses considerations in the 1990 farm bill debate, including market conditions, policy proposals, trade agreements, and the interactions between policy and markets for selected commodities. Cotton acreage, production, and prices have been influenced by Government programs since the 1930s in an attempt to meet market needs, with varying degrees of success. The Food Security Act of 1985 is generally considered successful in dealing with the cotton sector despite several problems. While the general preference for 1990 legislation for cotton will likely be for stability, the combination of budget, trade, environment, and flexibility issues may result in more than fine tuning of the current act. Wool and mohair have been declining industries. Sheep inventories are a fifth of their World War II level; goat numbers are a third of their mid-1960s level. Policymakers have had limited control over wool program costs given the formula-based Government support price, the trend of declining textile market share, rising raw wool textile imports, stagnant lamb and mutton consumption, and the dominance of Australia and New Zealand in the world wool market. Issues for 1990 include whether to continue the program and, if so, the level and method of determining support prices.

  • 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.

  • Financial Risks and Incomes in Contract Broiler Production

    Amber Waves, August 04, 2014

    Contract broiler growers earn average household incomes that substantially exceed those of all farm and all U.S. households. Contract growers’ incomes cover a wider range than the incomes of all farm and all U.S. households. The range of income reflects, in part, the risks of contract production; while contracts are designed to remove or reduce certain financial risks, they introduce other risks

  • For Beginning Farmers, Business Survival Rates Increase With Scale and With Direct Sales to Consumers

    Amber Waves, September 06, 2016

    Beginning farmers—those who have managed a farm or ranch for 10 years or less—generally have lower rates of business survival than more established farm operators. According to Census of Agriculture data, only 48.1 percent of beginning farmers having positive sales in 2007 also reported positive sales in 2012, compared with 55.7 percent of all farms.

  • 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.

  • Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: June 2009

    FTS-337-01, June 03, 2009

    Specialized fruit and tree nut farms represent a substantial segment of the U.S. fruit and tree nut industry. By nature of the commodities produced and the markets targeted, these specialized farms require substantial investments in production inputs. Using data from USDA's Agricultural Resource and Management Survey (ARMS), this report investigates the major expense components of specialized fruit and tree nut farms in the United States from 1998 to 2006. Based on 3-year averages, the analysis compares farm expenses by farm size and across regions. Total cash expenses were highest in the West where the highest concentration of specialized fruit and tree nut farms are located, including a majority of the largest and most highly specialized farm operations. Labor was the largest cash expense for fruit and tree nut farms, followed by fertilizer and other agricultural chemical inputs.

  • Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: June 2015

    FTS-359, June 30, 2015

    Peach, cherry, and prune production forecast down from last season. The decline in peach output has only put little upward pressure on prices. Shipments of melons are up through June.

  • Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: September 2015

    FTS-360, September 30, 2015

    The Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook report analyzes supply-and-demand conditions in the U.S. fruit and tree nuts markets and provides projections on market conditions for 2015 apple, pear, cranberry, grape and peach crops as well as 2014/15 citrus crops, both fresh and processed markets. It includes an additional section on U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act.

  • Gathering Experimental Evidence To Improve the Design of Agricultural Programs

    Amber Waves, August 17, 2017

    Policymakers considering new programs, or novel ways of delivering program services, often have limited information on how actual or potential participants will react to the changes. Economic experiments can offer evidence to help inform these design decisions, and may lead to improvements in existing programs or policies that benefit farmers and others.

  • Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States

    ERR-162, February 20, 2014

    Farmer adoption of GE crops is associated with time savings, lower insecticide use, and more conservation tillage. Consumer acceptance of GE ingredients varies across countries, product characteristics, and level of information.

  • Global Agricultural Supply and Demand: Factors Contributing to the Recent Increase in Food Commodity Prices

    WRS-0801, July 23, 2008

    World market prices for major food commodities such as grains and vegetable oils have risen sharply to historic highs of more than 60 percent above levels just 2 years ago. Many factors have contributed to the runup in food commodity prices. Some factors reflect trends of slower growth in production and more rapid growth in demand, which have contributed to a tightening of world balances of grains and oilseeds over the last decade. Recent factors that have further tightened world markets include increased global demand for biofuels feedstocks and adverse weather conditions in 2006 and 2007 in some major grain and oilseed producing areas. Other factors that have added to global food commodity price inflation include the declining value of the U.S. dollar, rising energy prices, increasing agricultural costs of production, growing foreign exchange holdings by major food importing countries, and policies adopted recently by some exporting and importing countries to mitigate their own food price inflation.

  • Government Commodity Payments Continue To Shift to Larger Farms, Higher Income Households

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2012

    As agricultural production has shifted to farms with larger sales, so, too, has the distribution of commodity-related program payments. Unless the design of commodity programs changes substantially, current payment trends are likely to continue.

  • Greater Heat Stress From Climate Change Could Lower Dairy Productivity

    Amber Waves, November 03, 2014

    In 2010, heat stress is estimated to have lowered annual milk production for the average dairy by about $39,000, totaling $1.2 billion in lost production for the entire U.S. diary sector. Additional heat stress from climate change is expected to lower milk production for the average dairy by 0.60-1.35 percent in 2030 relative to what it would have been in the absence of climate change.

  • Greening Income Support and Supporting Green

    EB-1, March 14, 2006

    A multitude of design decisions influence the performance of voluntary conservation programs. This Economic Brief is one of a set of five exploring the implications of decisions policymakers and program managers must make about who is eligible to receive payments, how much can be received, for what action, and the means by which applicants are selected. In particular, this Brief focuses on potential tradeoffs in combining income support and environmental objectives in a single program.