Research on Farm Structure and Organization
ERS research provides detailed empirical analyses of specific issues related to the economics of farm structure and organization. The research generally makes extensive use of data from the Census of Agriculture and the Agricultural Resource Management Survey, and the findings are published in peer-reviewed ERS reports and professional journals. Examples of recent and ongoing research topics include the following, with links to relevant ERS reports.
The Organization of U.S. Agriculture
Recent ERS analyses have documented the long-standing shifts of agricultural production to larger family farms, and have identified the continuing role of small farms in U.S. agriculture. Other research analyzes the impact of changing Federal policies on farm organization and financial performance. See the following ERS reports for example:
- Working the Land With 10 Acres: Small Acreage Farming in the United States EIB-123, April 2014;
- Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming ERR-152, August 2013;
- The Changing Organization of U.S. Farming EIB-88, December 2011;
- Small Farms in the United States: Persistence Under Pressure EIB-63, February 2010; and
- The Potential Impact of Tax Reform on Farm Businesses and Rural Households EIB-107, February 2013.
Farm Policy and Farm Structure
Changing farm structure affects the distribution of benefits from farm programs, and the specific elements of farm program design can affect farm structure. Recent ERS research has analyzed how dairy policy has been redesigned in response to increased price risks and the changing structure of dairy farms. See the ERS reports for more information:
- Changing Structure, Financial Risks, and Government Policy for the U.S. Dairy Industry (ERR-205, March 2016) analyzed how dairy policy has been redesigned in response to increased price risks and the changing structure of dairy farms;
- Changing Farm Structure and the Distribution of Farm Payments and Federal Crop Insurance (EIB-91, February 2012) looked at the links between changing structure and the distribution of commodity and conservation payments;
- Policy Reform in the Tobacco Industry: Producers Adapt to a Changing Market (EIB-77, May 2011) analyzed the impact of changes in commodity-specific programs on farm structure; and
- Stricter Rules Prompt Livestock Producers to Choose Farm Size Just Below Regulatory Cutoff (Amber Waves, June 2012) viewed the impact of the design of regulatory programs on farm structure.
Consolidation in Livestock Production
Livestock production has shifted to much larger operations. Recent and ongoing ERS research documents those changes, and assesses the causal forces driving the shifts, for specific livestock commodities and for the sector as a whole. See the ERS reports for examples:
- Technology, Organization, and Financial Performance in U.S. Broiler Production EIB-126, June 2014;
- U.S. Hog Production From 1992 to 2009: Technology, Restructuring, and Productivity Growth ERR-158, October 2013;
- The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture: Scale, Efficiency, and Risks EIB-43, January 2009; and
- The Diverse Structure and Organization of U.S. Beef Cow-Calf Farms EIB-73, March 2011.
ERS research also analyzes the economics of several public policy issues related to large scale livestock operations., such as the economics of antibiotic use in livestock agriculture. See the ERS reports for examples:
- Trends and Developments in Hog Manure Management: 1998-2009 EIB-81, September 2011;
- Climate Change Policy and the Adoption of Methane Digesters on Livestock Operations ERR-111, February 2011;
- Economics of Antibiotic Use in U.S. Livestock Production ERR-200, November 2015.