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.
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 »