Publications

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  • The Influence of Rising Commodity Prices on the Conservation Reserve Program

    ERR-110, February 11, 2011

    This report considers how increased commodity prices might influence enrollment in and benefits from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) using two complementary models: a likely-to-bid model that uses National Resources Inventory data to simulate offers to the general signup portion of the CRP and an opt-out model that simulates retention of current CRP contracts. Under several higher crop price scenarios, including one that incorporates 15 billion gallons of crop-based biofuels production, maintaining the CRP as currently configured will lead to significant expenditure increases. If constraints are placed on increasing rental rates, it might be possible to meet enrollment goals with moderate increases in CRP rental rates-but this will mean accepting lower average Environmental Benefits Index scores as landowners with profitable but environmentally sensitive lands choose not to enroll.

  • Vegetables and Melons Outlook: February 2011

    VGS-342-01, February 03, 2011

    This report presents a financial snapshot of the U.S. vegetable and melon farms by region and farm size over three 3-year periods (1999-2007).

  • Agricultural Income and Finance Outlook, 2010 Edition

    AIS-90, December 15, 2010

    Net farm income is forecast at $81.6 billion in 2010, up 31 percent from 2009 and 26 percent higher than the 10-year average of $64.8 billion for 2000 to 2009. Net cash income at $92.5 billion would be a nominal record, 2.3 percent above the prior record attained in 2008. Net value added is expected to increase by almost $20 billion in 2010 to $132.0 billion. Production expenses are forecast to rise moderately, reversing the significant declines seen in 2009. However, nominal total production expenses in 2010 and 2009 still constitute the second- and third-highest totals ever. Farm business equity (assets minus debt) is expected to rise nearly 4 percent, largely due to an expected 3-percent increase in the value of farm business real estate and a 2-percent decline in farm business debt. The farm business sector's debt-to-asset ratio is expected to decline to 11.3 percent and the debt-to-equity ratio is expected to decline to 12.8 percent in 2010, indicating that the farm sector's solvency position remains strong. Average net cash income for farm businesses is expected to increase throughout much of the country in 2010. The expected strong recovery in dairy, hog, and cattle receipts will result in much higher average net cash incomes for farm businesses in the Northern Crescent, Basin and Range, and Prairie Gateway. In the Northern Crescent, where dairy is a prominent commodity, average net cash income for farm businesses is forecast to increase by over 58 percent. Incomes are expected to be almost 50 percent higher in 2010 for farm businesses in the Basin and Range region where cattle are an important commodity, a region that showed the Average farm household income of principal farm operators-from farm and off-farm sources-is forecast to be $83,194 in 2010, up 7.8 percent from 2009. This contrasts with the change for the 2008 to 2009 period, when average farm household income declined by 3.3 percent.

  • Market Issues and Prospects for U.S. Distillers' Grains Supply, Use, and Price Relationships

    FDS-10K-01, December 09, 2010

    Growth in corn dry-mill ethanol production has surged in the past several years, simultaneously creating a coproduct-distillers' grains (DDGS). Many in the U.S. feed industry were concerned about the size of this new feed source and whether it could be used entirely by the feed industry, but they also worried about the price discovery process for the product. The authors of this report provide a transparent methodology to estimate U.S. supply and consumption of DDGS. Potential domestic and export use of U.S. DDGS exceeds current production and is likely to exceed future production as ethanol production continues to grow. The authors identify the DDGS price discovery process along with the price relationships of distillers' grains, corn, and soybean meal.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2010

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

  • The U.S. Produce Industry and Labor: Facing the Future in a Global Economy

    ERR-106, November 12, 2010

    Fruit and vegetable production is a labor-intensive process, and over half of the hired workers employed by growers are believed to be unauthorized immigrants. Reforms to immigration laws, if they reduce the labor supply, may increase the cost of farm labor. The authors of this report assess how particular fruit and vegetable commodities might adjust if labor rates increased.

  • The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Changes to the Regulation of Derivatives and their Impact on Agribusiness

    AIS-89, November 10, 2010

    The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act makes significant changes to Federal regulation of the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market, with the goals of improving market transparency and reducing systemic default risk. This article reviews some important features of the new law and discusses their potential impact on agribusiness, much of which will depend on how the rules are written and implemented by regulators.

  • Effects of Increased Biofuels on the U.S. Economy in 2022

    ERR-102, October 21, 2010

    ERS examines economic effects of increased biofuels in transportation fuels, called for in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Effects are measured by gross domestic product, household income, price of energy fuels, and agricultural output and trade.

  • U.S. Farm Structure: Declining—But Persistent— Small Commercial Farms

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    The continuing shift in production away from small commercial farms to larger farms is driven by financial pressures and aging operators.

  • Accelerated Productivity Growth Offsets Decline in Resource Expansion in Global Agriculture

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    The rate of growth in global agricultural productivity has accelerated in recent decades and accounts for an increasing share of expanding agricultural production.

  • Is U.S. Agricultural Productivity Growth Slowing?

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    Long-term agricultural productivity is driven by innovations in animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment, and farm organization. Public agricultural research funding, which historically has driven innovation, faces budgetary pressure in the U.S., therefore raising concerns about current and future U.S. productivity growth.

  • Urban Areas Prove Profitable for Farmers Selling Directly to Consumers

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    In 2007, $1.2 billion of farm products were sold directly to consumers by 136,800 farms, or 6 percent of all farms. Direct sales are highest in the urban corridors in the Northeast and on the West Coast.

  • Direct Payments Can Influence Farmers’ Production Decisions

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    ERS has identified multiple avenues through which Production Flexibility Contract payments could influence agricultural production, including providing easier access to capital markets, changing farmers’ risk preferences, or affecting land values, labor markets, and/or farmers’ expectations about future payments.

  • Research Areas

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    Research area charts from the September 2012 issue of Amber Waves

  • Indicators

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    Indicators tables from the September 2010 issue of Amber Waves magazine.

  • America's Diverse Family Farms, 2010 Edition

    EIB-67, July 26, 2010

    ERS provides comprehensive information including number and size of U.S. farms, characteristics of operators, finances of farm businesses and households, and geographic distribution of farms.

  • Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, 2010 Edition

    EIB-66, July 26, 2010

    Most U.S. farms-98 percent in 2007-are family operations, and even the largest farms are predominantly family run. Large-scale family farms and nonfamily farms account for 12 percent of U.S farms but 84 percent of the value of production. In contrast, small family farms make up most of the U.S. farm count but produce a modest share of farm output. Small farms are less profitable than large-scale farms, on average, and their operator households tend to rely on off-farm income for their livelihood. Generally speaking, farm operator households cannot be characterized as low-income when both farm and off-farm income are considered. Nevertheless, limited-resource farms still exist and account for 3 to 12 percent of family farms, depending on how "limited-resource" is defined.

  • Comparing the Structure, Size, and Performance of Local and Mainstream Food Supply Chains

    ERR-99, June 21, 2010

    A series of coordinated case studies compares the structure, size, and performance of local food supply chains with those of mainstream supply chains in delivering locally produced food to consumers.

  • 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.

  • Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues

    ERR-97, May 17, 2010

    A series of coordinated case studies compares the structure, size, and performance of local food supply chains with those of mainstream supply chains in delivering locally produced food to consumers.