Publications

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  • Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, 2011 Edition

    AIS-91, December 14, 2011

    Net farm income is forecast at $100.9 billion in 2011, up 28 percent from 2010 and 50 percent higher than the 10-year average of $67.4 billion for 2001-2010. Net cash income at $109.8 billion would be a nominal record, 19 percent above the prior record attained in 2010. Net value added is expected to increase by almost $24 billion in 2011 to $153.7 billion. Production expenses are forecast to jump substantially in 2011 to a record nominal high exceeding $300 billion. Prices paid indexes drive the forecast increase. Inflation-adjusted 2011 production expenses will exceed the previous peak reached in 1979. The values of farm business sector assets and equity (assets minus debt) are forecast to rise in 2011, while farm debt is forecast to decline from 2010 levels. Farm sector asset values are expected to rise by 6.8 percent in 2011 as the values of land and farm buildings, crop inventories, purchased inputs, machinery and equipment and financial assets are all expected to rise in 2011. Farm sector debt is expected to fall from about $247 billion in 2010 to about $243 billion in 2011. The decline in real estate debt is expected to be about $4 billion (-3.0 percent). The farm business sector's debt-to-asset ratio is expected to decline to 10.4 percent and debt-to-equity is expected to decline to 11.6 percent in 2011, indicating that the farm sector's solvency position remains strong. Average net cash income for farm businesses is expected to increase throughout most of the country in 2011, although income growth is not as high as experienced in 2010. High commodity prices for both crops and livestock are driving these increases, despite increasing expenses in all categories other than labor. Except for poultry, high prices in 2011 have helped the livestock sector to continue the strong performance of 2010 despite an environment of increasing feed expenses. Driven by the gains in most crop and livestock farms, all regions other than the Southern Seaboard are expected to experience at least a 7-percent improvement in average net cash income over 2010. Median farm household income increased by 3.7 percent in 2010 to $54,162 and is forecast to be higher in 2011. Bolstered by higher farm asset values, the balance sheet of farm households improved in 2010, with median net worth increasing by 6.5 percent to $576,745.

  • 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.

  • Direct and Intermediated Marketing of Local Foods in the United States

    ERR-128, November 04, 2011

    ERS explores farmers' use of both direct-to-consumer marketing (such as farmers markets) and intermediated channels (such as grocers and restaurants) to sell food to consumers in their local areas.

  • Estimating the Substitution of Distillers' Grains for Corn and Soybean Meal in the U.S. Feed Complex

    FDS-11I01, October 13, 2011

    Corn-based dry-mill ethanol production and its coproducts - notably distillers' dried grains with soluble (DDGS) - have surged in recent years. The report estimates the potential substitution of DDGS for corn and soybean meal in livestock feeding and the impact of substitution upon the U.S. feed complex.

  • An Analysis of the Limited Base Acre Provision of the 2008 Farm Act

    EIB-84, October 12, 2011

    ERS examines the effect of the 2008 Farm Act provision eliminating direct and countercyclical payments and average crop revenue election payments to farms with 10 or fewer base acres.

  • Nitrogen in Agricultural Systems: Implications for Conservation Policy

    ERR-127, September 22, 2011

    Nitrogen is an important agricultural input that is critical for crop production. However, the introduction of large amounts of nitrogen into the environment has a number of undesirable impacts on water, terrestrial, and atmospheric resources. This report explores the use of nitrogen in U.S. agriculture and assesses changes in nutrient management by farmers that may improve nitrogen use efficiency. It also reviews a number of policy approaches for improving nitrogen management and identifies issues affecting their potential performance. Findings reveal that about two-thirds of U.S. cropland is not meeting three criteria for good nitrogen management related to the rate, timing, and method of application. Several policy approaches, including financial incentives, nitrogen management as a condition of farm program eligibility, and regulation, could induce farmers to improve their nitrogen management and reduce nitrogen losses to the environment.

  • Alternatives to a State-Based ACRE Program: Expected Payments Under a National, Crop District, or County Base

    ERR-126, September 15, 2011

    The Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program bases commodity support on aggregate State-level and individual farm-level revenue variability. ERS examines expected effects if the trigger were changed to a national, Crop Reporting District, or county level.

  • Impacts of Higher Energy Prices on Agriculture and Rural Economies

    ERR-123, August 18, 2011

    ERS looks at direct and indirect impacts of higher energy prices on the agricultural and rural sectors, with scenarios developed for specific energy price changes.

  • The Ethanol Decade: An Expansion of U.S. Corn Production, 2000-09

    EIB-79, August 18, 2011

    ERS examines how the farm sector reacted to increased demand for corn needed to fuel a 9-billion-gallon rise in ethanol production in the past decade. In the United States, corn is the primary ethanol feedstock.

  • Brazil's Ethanol Industry: Looking Forward

    BIO-02, June 27, 2011

    This report profiles and analyzes Brazil's ethanol industry, providing information on the policy environment that enabled the development of feedstock and processing sectors, and discusses the various opportunities and challenges to face the industry over the next decade.

  • Rural America Benefits From Expanded Use of the Federal Tax Code for Income Support

    Amber Waves, June 16, 2011

    Increased use of the tax code for policy goals has boosted incomes of rural taxpayers, who tend to have lower incomes and higher poverty than urban taxpayers.

  • Biofuels and Land-Use Change: Estimation Challenges

    Amber Waves, June 16, 2011

    Most studies estimate significant increases in land-use requirements for agricultural production resulting from scaled-up biofuel production. Additional research on variables, such as projected crop yields, will be instrumental in narrowing the bands of uncertainty associated with such projections.

  • Policy Reform in the Tobacco Industry: Producers Adapt to a Changing Market

    EIB-77, May 26, 2011

    ERS analyzes tobacco producers' adjustments in production, investment, labor requirements, and contracting practices following elimination of tobacco quotas and tobacco price supports.

  • 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.

  • The Diverse Structure and Organization of U.S. Beef Cow-Calf Farms

    EIB-73, March 28, 2011

    The beef cow-calf industry is characterized by large numbers of small farms, although large farms account for most of the production. Operators of beef cow-calf farms have varying goals for their cattle enterprises.

  • Contracting Expands for Field Crops

    Amber Waves, March 14, 2011

    Contracts cover a growing share of U.S. corn, soybean, and wheat production. Rising use likely reflects increased price variability, a wider availability of risk management tools, and structural change in agriculture.

  • Income Growth in Developing Countries Can Increase U.S. Agricultural Exports

    Amber Waves, March 14, 2011

    According to USDA long-term projections, continued income growth will make developing countries the main source of the projected increases in global food demand and trade.

  • Net Farm Income Expected To Increase 20 Percent in 2011

    Amber Waves, March 14, 2011

    Net value added, net farm income, and net cash income—the three key U.S. farm sector financial indicators—are expected to improve in 2011.

  • 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.

  • Agricultural Contracting Update: Contracts in 2008

    EIB-72, February 14, 2011

    ERS examines the effects of current Federal tax provisions regarding low- and moderate-income households in rural America, focusing on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).