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  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Final Report: Fiscal 1998 Activities

    AP-003, November 20, 1998

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program (FANRP) supports intramural and extramural research on a wide range of policy-relevant food assistance and nutrition topics. The three perennial program themes are (1) diet and nutritional outcomes, (2) food program targeting and delivery, and (3) program dynamics and administration. The core food and nutrition assistance programs include the Food Stamp Program, the child nutrition programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This report summarizes FANRP's activities and accomplishments in fiscal 1998.

  • A Dietary Assessment of the U.S. Food Supply: Comparing Per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations

    AER-772, December 01, 1998

    Most American diets do not meet Federal Food Guide Pyramid dietary recommendations. On average, people consume too many servings of added fats and sugars and too few servings of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, lean meats, and foods made from whole grains--compared with a reference set of Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations appropriate to the age and gender composition of the U.S. population. In addition, while the healthfulness of diets has improved over time, the pace of improvement has been uneven. For example, while Americans consumed record amounts of fruits and vegetables in 1996, consumption of caloric sweeteners also reached a 27-year high. This report is the first dietary assessment to use ERS's time-series food supply data to compare average diets with Federal dietary recommendations depicted in the Food Guide Pyramid. Food Guide Pyramid servings were estimated for more than 250 agricultural commodities for 1970-96. New techniques were developed to adjust the data for food spoilage and other losses accumulated throughout the marketing system and the home.

  • Structural and Financial Characteristics of U.S. Farms, 1995: 20th Annual Family Farm Report to Congress

    AIB-746, December 01, 1998

    National average statistics related to farm production mask the diversity in the Nation's 2 million farms and the people who operate them. Farms in the United States differ not only by size (sales and acres) and type of production, but also by organizational characteristics (land ownership, legal organization, contracting arrangements) and financial characteristics (debt, assets, income, expenditures). Farm operators and their households vary with respect to demographic characteristics (occupation, age, education), financial characteristics (dependence on farm income, operator/spouse labor allocation), and management characteristics (information sources, business goals).

  • Agriculture in the WTO International Agriculture and Trade Report

    WRS-98-4, December 01, 1998

    The Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations continued the process of reducing trade barriers achieved in seven previous rounds of negotiations. Among the Uruguay Round's most significant accomplishments were the adoption of new rules governing agricultural trade policy, the establishment of disciplines on the use of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, and agreement on a new process for settling trade disputes. The latest round also created the World Trade Organization (WTO) to replace the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) as an institutional framework for overseeing trade negotiations and adjudicating trade disputes. Agricultural trade concerns that have come to the fore since the Uruguay Round, including the use of genetically engineered products in agricultural trade, state trading, and a large number of potential new members, illustrate the wide range of issues a new round may face.

  • FOOD SECURITY ASSESSMENT. GFA-10

    GFA-10, December 01, 1998

    Broad trends in food production and prices indicate a decline in the share of people who do not have access to adequate food levels. However, the overall figures mask variation in food security among regions, countries, and income groups within countries. In 1998, per capita food consumption in 66 low-income countries is projected to fall short of 1996-98 levels ("status quo") by nearly 11 million tons, up from 8.5 million tons estimated for 1997. The gap between actual consumption and minimum nutritional requirements is expected to be even larger at 17.6 million tons. During the next decade, food gaps with respect to the status quo and nutritional targets are expected to widen further. Food consumption is projected to fall short of the nutritional requirement in 35 countries, while 47 countries are expected to face a decline in per capita consumption in 2008. The 67 countries in the study either have been or may become food aid recipients. The projections, however, exclude the availability of food aid. Therefore, depending upon future food aid availability, some or all of the projected food gaps can be eliminated.

  • Away-From-Home Foods Increasingly Important to Quality of American Diet

    AIB-749, January 01, 1999

    The increasing popularity of dining out over the past two decades has raised the proportion of nutrients obtained from away-from-home food sources. Between 1977 and 1995, home foods significantly improved their nutritional quality, more so than away-from-home foods, which typically contained more of the nutrients overconsumed (fat and saturated fat) and less of the nutrients underconsumed (calcium, fiber, and iron) by Americans. Since the trend of eating out frequently is expected to continue, strategies to improve the American diet must address consumers' food choices when eating out. This report analyzes food intake survey data collected by USDA over the past two decades to compare the nutritional quality of home and away-from-home foods and examine how the quality has changed over time.

  • Food Cost Indexes for Low-Income Households and the General Population

    TB-1872, February 01, 1999

    The results of this study indicate that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has not systematically overestimated or underestimated the food costs incurred by the general population. True-cost-of-food indexes calculated for the general population tend to be the same as or slightly lower then the CPI except for 1994 and 1995. The true-cost indexes also indicate that there are economies to household size, that black households incur lower costs than nonblack households, and that the households in the West tend to have the highest costs. True-cost indexes for low-income households tend to be about the same as the CPI for one-person households, and lower than the CPI for two- and four-person households in all years. This is a significant finding in that components of the CPI for food at home are indirectly used to adjust benefit levels for food stamp recipients.

  • Analyses of Generic Dairy Advertising, 1984-97

    TB-1873, February 01, 1999

    Generic advertising raised fluid milk sales about 6.0 percent, or 18.1 billion pounds, between September 1984 and September 1997. Sales of cheese rose by about 6.8 million pounds (milk equivalent) in the same period because of increased generic advertising. An assessment of 15 cents per hundredweight of milk sold commercially, mandated by the Dairy and Tobacco Adjustment Act of 1983, funded the advertising. Activities of the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board also contributed to increased milk sales over the past year. Gross returns to dairy farmers between September 1984 and September 1997 were estimated to increase by $3.44 for each dollar spent on generic advertising. This report presents the results of econometric demand models that examined the effect of advertising and other facts on milk and cheese sales.

  • USDA Agricultural Baseline Projections to 2008

    WAOB-991, February 17, 1999

    This report provides long-run baseline projections for the agricultural sector through 2008. Projections cover agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices. The baseline assumes no shocks and is based on specific assumptions regarding macroeconomic conditions, policy, weather, and international developments. The projections assume that current agricultural law of the 1996 Farm Act remains in effect throughout the baseline. The baseline projections presented are one representative scenario for the agricultural sector for the next decade. As such, the baseline provides a point of departure for discussion of alternative farm sector outcomes that could result under different assumptions. The projections in this report were prepared in October through December 1998, reflecting a composite of model results and judgmental analysis. This year's baseline reflects the effects of a number of international factors which have combined to weaken the U.S. agricultural trade outlook for the next 10 years, either by reducing global demand or increasing world supplies. Global supplies for many agricultural commodities are initially large, and expanding production potential in a number of foreign countries result in strong export competition throughout the baseline. The economic crisis in Asia and, to a lesser extent, the near-term economic contraction in Russia contribute to a prolonged period of weak global agricultural demand. Additionally, revised assumptions for China result in lower grain import demand through the baseline. In the initial years of the baseline, much of the U.S. agriculture sector is adjusting to a combination of weak demand and large global supplies. In the longer run, strong export competition and only moderate grain import demand in China continue to influence the baseline projections. Nonetheless, more favorable long-term global economic growth supports gains in trade and U.S. agricultural exports in the last half of the baseline, resulting in rising nominal market prices, gains in farm income, and increased stability in the financial condition of the U.S. agricultural sector.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Fiscal 1999, Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program: Description and Application Process

    AP-004, February 24, 1999

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program accepted proposals for grants and cooperative agreements for fiscal 1999. The five priority research areas were (1) The Food Stamp Program as a Safety Net, (2) Better Serving the Working Poor, (3) WIC Program Research, (4) Child Nutrition Issues, and (5) Outcome-Based Performance Measures. This publication describes the research areas and application requirements. Funding for competitive awards in fiscal 1999 was between $2 million and $4 million. The deadline for proposal submission was June 3, 1999.

  • Managing Risk in Farming: Concepts, Research, and Analysis

    AER-774, March 01, 1999

    The risks confronted by grain and cotton farmers are of particular interest, given the changing role of the Government after passage of the 1996 Farm Act. With the shift toward less government intervention in the post-1996 Farm Act environment, a more sophisticated understanding of risk and risk management is important to help producers make better decisions in risky situations and to assist policymakers in assessing the effectiveness of different types of risk protection tools. In response, this report provides a rigorous, yet accessible, description of risk and risk management tools and strategies at the farm level. It also provides never-before-published data on farmers' assessments of the risks they face, their use of alternative risk management strategies, and the changes they would make if faced with financial difficulty. It also compares price risk across crops and time periods, and provides detailed information on yield variability.

  • Rural Competitiveness: Results of the 1996 Rural Manufacturing Survey

    AER-776, March 01, 1999

    Establishments in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan locations are surprisingly similar in their adoption of new technologies, worker skill requirements, use of government programs and technical assistance, exports, and sources of financing, according to the results of a nationwide survey of 3,909 manufacturing businesses. The most widespread concern of both metro and nonmetro businesses appears to be with quality of labor. Quality of local labor is the most frequently cited problem associated with nonmetro business locations. Access to credit, transportation, and telecommunications infrastructure is a problem of secondary importance for both metro and nonmetro respondents. Rural communities face a considerable challenge in supplying workers with needed skills. The fastest-growing skill requirements--computer, interpersonal/teamwork, and problem-solving skills--are not central to traditional academic instruction.

  • The Changing Food Assistance Landscape: The Food Stamp Program in a Post-Welfare Reform Environment

    AER-773, March 01, 1999

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) dramatically transformed and continues to transform the food assistance landscape in the United States. The Act cut more funds from the Food Stamp Program than it did from any other program, through reductions in benefits per person and restrictions in eligibility. Despite these cuts, food stamps now have a more prominent role in the post-welfare reform social safety net because the largest cash-assistance entitlement program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), was replaced with the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, a nonentitlement program. This leaves the Food Stamp Program as one of the only remaining entitlement programs available to almost all low-income households.

  • Consolidation in U.S. Meatpacking

    AER-785, March 01, 1999

    Meatpacking consolidated rapidly in the last two decades: slaughter plants became much larger, and concentration increased as smaller firms left the industry. We use establishment-based data from the U.S. Census Bureau to describe consolidation and to identify the roles of scale economies and technological change in driving consolidation. Through the 1970's, larger plants paid higher wages, generating a pecuniary scale diseconomy that largely offset the cost advantages that technological scale economies offered large plants. The larger plants' wage premium disappeared in the 1980's, and technological change created larger and more extensive technological scale economies. As a result, large plants realized growing cost advantages over smaller plants, and production shifted to larger plants.

  • User-Fee Financing of USDA Meat and Poultry Inspection

    AER-775, March 01, 1999

    USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) finances about 13.5 percent of its budget outlays through user fees for overtime and unscheduled meat and poultry inspections. This report surveys the application of user-fees for financing meat and poultry inspection programs in other countries; reviews user-fee systems in other Federal agencies, particularly those with food and agricultural missions or regulatory responsibilities; and discusses the relevant economics literature on the use and design of user fees. Finally, the report suggests several elements that should underlie the structure of user fees for meat and poultry inspection, should such a program be introduced.

  • A Framework for Analyzing Technical Trade Barriers in Agricultural Markets

    TB-1876, March 01, 1999

    Technical trade barriers are increasingly important in the international trade of agricultural products. Designing technical trade measures that can satisfy the growing demand for food safety, product differentiation, environmental amenities, and product information at the lowest cost to the consumer and to the international trading system requires an understanding of the complex economics of regulatory import barriers. This report proposes a definition and classification scheme to frame discussion and evaluation of such measures. Open-economy models that complement the classification scheme are developed graphically to highlight the basic elements that affect the economic impacts of changes in technical trade barriers.

  • Broiler Farms' Organization, Management, and Performance

    AIB-748, March 01, 1999

    This study provides a comprehensive view of the organization, management, and financial performance of U.S. broiler farms. Using data from USDA's Agricultural Resource Management Study (ARMS, formerly known as the Farm Costs and Returns Survey), we examine farm size, financial structure, household income, management practices, and spousal participation in decisionmaking. We compare broiler operations with other farming enterprises and their earnings with that of the average U.S. household. Because most of the 7 billion broilers produced in the United States in 1995 were raised under contract, we also explore the use of contracts and the effects of contracting on the broiler sector.

  • Policy Issues in Rural Development: How Would Fundamental Tax Reform Affect Farmers?

    AIB-751-01, April 01, 1999

    The Food and Rural Economics Division of ERS designed the following series of policy-oriented, timely publications to provide background and analysis for decision makers and others.

  • Vertical Coordination in the Pork and Broiler Industries: Implications for Pork and Chicken Products

    AER-777, April 01, 1999

    This report compares current changes in vertical coordination in the U.S. pork industry with past changes in the U.S. broiler industry. Recent changes in the structure of the U.S. pork industry reflect, in many ways, past changes in the broiler industry. Production contracts and vertical integration in the broiler industry facilitated rapid adoption of new technology, improved quality control, assured market outlets for broilers, and provided a steady flow of broilers for processing. Affordable, high-quality chicken products have contributed to continual increases in U.S. chicken consumption, which has surpassed pork and beef on a per capita basis. Incentives for contracting and vertical integration in the pork industry may yield comparable results.

  • U.S. Beef Industry: Cattle Cycles, Price Spreads, and Packer Concentration

    TB-1874, April 01, 1999

    This report examines the cattle cycle of the 1990's to determine if there are differences from previous cattle cycles and, if so, how and why any differences occurred.