Publications

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  • Organic Dairy Sector Evolves To Meet Changing Demand

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    Declining demand for organic products in response to the economic downturn has slowed the rapid growth in organic milk production. Economic forces, primarily lower production costs, may be pushing organic dairies to be more like conventional dairies in terms of size, location, and the types of technologies used. More specific pasture requirements for organic certification may affect how the organic milk production sector evolves.

  • 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.

  • Retail Dairy Prices Fluctuate With Farm Value of Milk

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    In the late 1990s, a nearly two-decade decline in farm share of retail dairy prices slowed and in 2000-2008, farm share fluctuated between 26 and 35 percent. Consumers saw modest increases in dairy prices over this period until the 2007-08 jump in food price inflation.

  • Increasing Size of Dairy Farms Driven by Declining Production Costs

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    A major driver behind the continuing trend toward increases in the size of dairy farms is the decline in average production costs for milk as dairy farms grow larger. But many farms are not operating at full efficiency and are not taking advantage of incentives to expand.

  • Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming

    ERR-82, November 02, 2009

    ERS addresses size, regional differences, and pasture use in organic milk production. Economic forces have pressured organic dairies to operate more like their conventional counterparts and take advantage of economies of size.

  • Marketing U.S. Organic Foods: Recent Trends From Farms to Consumers

    EIB-58, September 30, 2009

    Organic foods now occupy prominent shelf space in the produce and dairy aisles of most mainstream U.S. food retailers. The marketing boom has pushed retail sales of organic foods up to $21.1 billion in 2008 from $3.6 billion in 1997. U.S. organic-industry growth is evident in an expanding number of retailers selling a wider variety of foods, the development of private-label product lines by many supermarkets, and the widespread introduction of new products. A broader range of consumers has been buying more varieties of organic food. Organic handlers, who purchase products from farmers and often supply them to retailers, sell more organic products to conventional retailers and club stores than ever before. Only one segment has not kept pace-organic farms have struggled at times to produce sufficient supply to keep up with the rapid growth in demand, leading to periodic shortages of organic products.

  • U.S. Food Import Patterns, 1998-2007

    FAU-125, August 06, 2009

    Using import data from the U.S. Census Bureau, this study examines patterns of U.S. food imports for fiscal years 1998-2007. Results indicate faster import growth trends for consumer-ready foods, such as fruit, vegetables, meats, seafood, and processed food products. Although the United States imported most bulk food commodities and perishable consumer-ready products, such as fruit and vegetables, from neighboring countries in the Western Hemisphere, it imported processed foods, spices, and other tropical products from more global sources, with rising import shares for many countries in Asia.

  • The Interplay of Regulation and Marketing Incentives in Providing Food Safety

    ERR-75, July 10, 2009

    Both Government regulations and private-sector-determined actions have resulted in the current level of safety in meat and poultry products. Focusing on process control, ERS examines the relative contributions of regulations and management-determined initiatives.

  • Manure Use for Fertilizer and for Energy: Report to Congress

    AP-037, June 25, 2009

    The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to evaluate the role of animal manure as a source of fertilizer, and its other uses. About 5 percent of all U.S. cropland is currently fertilized with livestock manure, and corn accounts for over half of the acreage to which manure is applied. Expanded environmental regulation through nutrient management plans will likely lead to wider use of manure on cropland, at higher production costs, but with only modest impacts on production costs, commodity demand, or farm structure. There is widespread interest in using manure as a feedstock for energy production. While current use is quite limited, expanded government support, either direct or indirectly, could lead to a substantial increase in manure use as a feedstock. However, current energy processes are unlikely to compete with fertilizer uses of manure, because they leave fertilizer nutrients as residues, in more marketable form, and because manure-to-energy projects will be most profitable in regions where raw manure is in excess supply, with the least value as fertilizer.

  • Emerging Issues in the U.S. Organic Industry

    EIB-55, June 03, 2009

    Consumer demand for organic products has widened over the last decade. While new producers have emerged to help meet demand, market participants report that a supply squeeze is constraining growth for both individual firms and the organic sector overall. Partly in response to shortages in organic supply, Congress in 2008 included provisions in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (2008 Farm Act) that, for the first time, provide financial support to farmers to convert to organic production. This report examines recent economic research on the adoption of organic farming systems, organic production costs and returns, and market conditions to gain a better understanding of the organic supply squeeze and other emerging issues in this rapidly changing industry.

  • Consumers Show Strong Brand Loyalty in Cheese Purchases

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2009

    ERS research reveals that strong brand loyalty for specific types of cheese among U.S. consumers. This brand loyalty even overrides response to changing prices. But brand loyalty does appear to decline over time.

  • 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.

  • NAFTA at 15: Building on Free Trade

    WRS-09-03, March 31, 2009

    Implementation of the agricultural provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has drawn to a close. In 2008, the last of NAFTA's transitional restrictions governing U.S.-Mexico and Canada-Mexico agricultural trade were removed, concluding a 14-year project in which the member countries systematically dismantled numerous barriers to regional agricultural trade. During the implementation period, the agricultural sectors of Canada, Mexico, and the United States have become much more integrated. Agricultural trade within the free-trade area has grown dramatically, and Canadian and Mexican industries that rely on U.S. agricultural inputs have expanded. U.S. feedstuffs have facilitated a marked increase in Mexican meat production and consumption, and the importance of Canadian and Mexican produce to U.S. fruit and vegetable consumption is growing.

  • Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption, 1970-2005

    EIB-33, March 28, 2008

    ERS investigates trends in U.S. food consumption from 1970 to 2005. Results suggest many Americans still fall short of Federal dietary recommendations for whole grains, lower fat dairy products, and fruits and vegetables.

  • The 2002 Farm Bill: Provisions and Economic Implications

    AP-022, January 23, 2008

    The Farm Security Act of 2002, which governs Federal farm programs for 2002-07, was signed into law on May 13, 2002. This publication presents an overview of the Act and a side-by-side comparison of 1996-2001 farm legislation and the 2002 Act. For selected programs, information is provided to additional analyses of key changes, program overview, and economic implications.

  • Americans' Dairy Consumption Below Recommendations

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2007

    Americans are consuming more dairy products than in 1970, but not enough to meet the daily recommendations for milk and milk products. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the supporting MyPyramid Food Guidance System recommend that Americans consume 2-3 cups of milk and milk products daily, depending on their age, gender, and level of physical activity. ERS's per capita food availability data show that Americans on average consumed 1.8 cups of dairy products per person per day in 2005.

  • Profits, Costs, and the Changing Structure of Dairy Farming

    ERR-47, September 04, 2007

    ERS examines economic factors in the dramatic decline in the number of dairy farms over the past 15 years and the increasing concentration in the industry.

  • Low Costs Drive Production to Large Dairy Farms

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2007

    Dairy production is shifting to larger farms; small dairy farms are exiting, and more expect to leave in the next decade. Average production costs per hundredweight of milk produced fall sharply with herd size. Large dairy farms earn substantial profits, while most smaller operations experience economic losses. Given their cost advantages, the shift of dairy production to large farms contributes to rising industry productivity and lower real dairy prices.

  • U.S. Agricultural Trade Update-State Exports

    FAU-123, June 29, 2007

    U.S. agricultural exports reached a record in fiscal 2006 at $68.7 billion, some $6.2 billion higher than the record set in fiscal 2005. California, Iowa, Texas, and Illinois continued their reign as top exporting States, while Minnesota dropped to seventh position behind Nebraska and Kansas. North Carolina joined the top 10, displacing North Dakota at the number nine position. Feed grain exports moved ahead of soybean exports, with Iowa and Illinois dominating in those markets. California continued to dominate vegetables, fruits, tree nuts, seeds, and dairy.

  • Retail and Consumer Aspects of the Organic Milk Market

    LDPM-155-01, May 22, 2007

    Consumer interest in organic milk has burgeoned, resulting in rapid growth in retail sales of organic milk. New analysis of scanner data from 2004 finds that most purchasers of organic milk are White, high income, and well educated. The data indicate that organic milk purchased carries the USDA organic seal about 60 percent of the time, most organic milk is sold in supermarkets, organic price premiums are large and vary by region, and most organic milk is branded.