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The Economics of Food, Farming, Natural Resources, and Rural America

Last updated on  September 5th, 2016

An Economic Perspective on Soil Health: Click here

Soil health builds upon soil conservation by encouraging farmers to manage soil as a living ecosystem, in addition to reducing soil erosion. Healthy soils can have benefits to society and to farmers. USDA incentivizes farmers to adopt soil health practices through programs such as EQIP and CSP.


Percent of Income Spent on Food Falls as Income Rises: Click here

Over the past two and a half decades, U.S. households in the lowest income quintile spent between 29 and 43 percent of their annual before-tax income on food, compared with 7 to 9 percent spent by households in the highest income quintile.


U.S. Beef and Pork Consumption Projected To Rebound: Click here

Beef production and pork production are projected to grow by 11.7 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively, from 2016 to 2015. As a result, beef and pork prices are projected to drop over the period, driving up demand for beef and pork and reversing a multiyear decline in U.S. meat consumption.


Voluntary Labeling of Chicken “Raised Without Antibiotics” Has Posed Challenges for Firms and Consumers: Click here

Many consumers want information about how their food is produced, including how farmers raise the animals they eat. Challenges may arise for firms as well as consumers when firms introduce label claims about farm practices (for example, how animals were raised) in the absence of universally accepted definitions or requirements for such claims.


For Beginning Farmers, Business Survival Rates Increase With Scale and With Direct Sales to Consumers: Click here

Beginning farmers—those who have managed a farm or ranch for 10 years or less—generally have lower rates of business survival than more established farm operators. According to Census of Agriculture data, only 48.1 percent of beginning farmers having positive sales in 2007 also reported positive sales in 2012, compared with 55.7 percent of all farms.


Productivity Growth Is Still the Major Driver in Growing U.S. Agricultural Output: Click here

To monitor the U.S. farm sector’s performance, ERS develops total factor productivity (TFP) statistics measured as total agricultural output per unit of aggregate input, with each adjusted for price changes. Total factor productivity measures changes in the efficiency with which inputs are transformed into output.