USDA programs have targeted assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers since the 1992 Agricultural Credit Improvement Act. Farms or ranches are considered “beginning” if the operators have managed them for 10 years or less. The Economic Research Service has looked at the trend in numbers of beginning farmers and ranchers in recent decades and examined some key characteristics that distinguish them from established farms using the Census of Agriculture and the Agricultural Resource Management Survey. Taken every five years, the Census provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation.
For more than two decades, the share of farms operated by beginning farmers has been in decline. Beginning farms and ranches accounted for 22 percent of the nation’s 2 million family farms and ranches in 2011 – down from about 38 percent in 1982. Consistent with this trend, the average age of principal farm operators in the United States has risen in that period, from 50 to 58. Read more »
USDA’s 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 21-22, in Arlington, Va., will host a morning of plenary session speakers on the opening day followed by 25 breakout sessions. The “Food Price Outlook” breakout session for 2013 will offer perspectives on food price inflation, the factors contributing to food prices, and the consumer implications.
In this session, Dr. Todd Davis, Senior Economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, will discuss the link between this past year’s harvest and the prices consumers pay for food. Joining him will be USDA economist Richard Volpe explaining the relationship between food prices and inflation. Kurt Collins, Senior Director of Commodity Risk Management for Unified Foodservice Purchasing Co-op, will explore strategies the food industry is using to manage commodity price risks. The “Farm Income” session will focus on general measures of the financial well-being of the farm economy and farm households.
To learn more about the Forum, please visit our website.
About midway through USDA’s 150-year history, federal officials decided that economic research and analysis could be a valuable, objective tool in helping farmers – and policymakers – grapple with farm price and income issues. In 1922, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (BAE) – predecessor agency of USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) – came into existence. The Bureau began regularly producing agricultural market outlook reports (still an ERS staple), and – not surprisingly – its early work included analysis of agricultural policy impacts during the Great Depression.
Employees of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (circa 1930), predecessor agency of the Economic Research Service.
Although the BAE’s functions were dispersed throughout the Department in the 1950s, they were assembled again into a single agency, the Economic Research Service, in 1961. I’ll touch on just a few highlights of ERS activities that illustrate the value of our agency’s work over the past century. Read more »