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Posts tagged: ERS

Conservation and Biological Diversity in Organic Production

Rows of crops

Organic practices foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

The National Organic Program (NOP) – part of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – protects the integrity of certified organic products by developing clear standards, overseeing the certification of organic farms and businesses, and ensuring compliance with the USDA organic regulations.

Organic is a labeling term that means the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices. These practices foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Certified organic crop and livestock producers manage their farms according to the USDA organic regulations. This means using materials that are approved for use in organic production, and maintaining or improving the natural resources of their operation, including soil and water quality. Read more »

The Surprise in Latest Forecast: Net Farm Income Down; but Farm Businesses and Farm Households Show Improvement

Debt-to-asset ratio and debt-to-equity ratio chart

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released its Farm Income forecast for 2016. This year the debt-to-asset ratio ratio is forecast to be 13.2%, compared to 12.7% in 2015. The same trends hold for debt-to-equity ratios.

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released its Farm Income forecast for 2016.  Net cash income and net farm income (which includes the value and costs of items like depreciation, home consumption of farm goods, and unsold inventory) are both expected to fall slightly compared to 2015, but by much less than last year. Net cash income is expected to fall by 2.5%, or about $2.3 billion, and net farm income by 3%, or about $1.6 billion. Last year net cash income fell by 27% and net farm income by 38%.

A large portion of the forecast decline is from lower livestock receipts, expected to be down by about $7.9 billion. Crop receipts are also forecast to be lower by $1.6 billion. On the other hand, input costs are forecast to be down by $3.8 billion, and government payments are expected to be $3.3 billion higher. Read more »

Consumer Demand Bolstering Organic Production and Markets in the U.S.

Mar-Bil Jersey Farm's red barn

Mar-Bil Jersey Farm has been in Bill Yoder’s extended family since the 1700s and his grandfather built their big red barn nearly 100 years ago. Photo by Keri Pickett Photography.

Organic food sales in the United States have shown double-digit growth during most years since the 1990s, and this trend shows no sign of slowing.  The Nutrition Business Journal reports annual growth in the nation’s organic food sales has generally exceeded 10 percent since the downturn in the American economy in 2008.  U.S. organic food sales approached an estimated $37 billion in 2015, up 12 percent from the previous year.  The country’s top food retailers, including Costco, Kroger, Walmart and Target, have expanded their organic food offerings in recent years, and have announced initiatives which could further boost demand.

Although organic sales have been increasing from a small base, the Organic Trade Association estimates that U.S. organic food purchases accounted for nearly 5 percent of the total food market in 2014.  In addition, U.S. sales of organic personal care products, linens, and other nonfood items were in excess of an estimated $3 billion in 2014.  Certified organic farmland has also expanded, while not as fast as organic sales. Read more »

The Life of a USDA Market News Reporter

USDA Market News reporter Alexandra Wright

Market News reports reach millions of stakeholders every day to ensure that everyone in the ag supply chain have the information they need. Pictured here is Market News reporter Alexandra Wright.

As I walked up to my new USDA office, distracted by the animal noises, I dodged horse-drawn buggies while tiptoeing around cow pies.  Originally from the suburbs of Atlanta, my exposure to livestock was limited.  As a market reporter with USDA Market News, I found that my exposure would significantly increase and fast.

The entire agricultural supply chain turn to USDA Market News – administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – for reliable data that serves as the information lifeline for America’s agricultural economy.  Our reports, with data gathered and distributed by reporters like me, reach millions of stakeholders every day to ensure that everyone in the ag supply chain have the information they need. Read more »

2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum: How Land Tenure & Transition Can Transform the Rural Economy

Farmer Randall Hildreth at his 500 acre farm in Marengo County, Alabama

2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum panelist, farmer Randall Hildreth at his 500 acre farm in Marengo County, Alabama. Nearly 200 of those acres were in Heir Property status and are currently in the process of getting a cleared title. (Photo courtesy of Randall Hildreth)

Focus on land tenure and transition issues has grown considerably in recent years, especially its impact on new and beginning farmers. “New and beginning farmers are the future of American agriculture,” said Deputy Secretary Harden.  “The average age of an American farmer is 58 and increasing, so we must help new farmers get started if America is going to continue feeding the world and maintain a strong agriculture economy.”  As the age of the principal farm operator continues to increase, the focus on this issue intensifies. Land tenure, succession and estate planning, and access to land for new and beginning farmers will be among the topics discussed in a session at USDA’s 2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum this month. Read more »

Congrats to the Student Diversity Program Winners, See You at the 2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum

A group of 30 university students, announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, will get a head start to a career in agriculture as winners of USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program.  Twenty university juniors and seniors were chosen based their essays on “Agriculture as a Career.”  Additionally, 10 graduate students were chosen in response to “The Greatest Challenge Facing Agriculture over the Next Five Years.” Read more »