U.S. Farm Commodity Support: An Overview of Selected Programs

U.S. Farm Commodity Support: An Overview of Selected Programs.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Sahar Angadjivand.  April 17, 2018

 Federal efforts to bolster farm household incomes and the rural economy by providing support to producers of key crops has been a central pillar of U.S. farm policy since such programs were first introduced in the 1930s. Current farm support programs are counter-cyclical in design—that is payments are triggered when the annual market price for an eligible crop drops below a statutory minimum or when revenue is below a guaranteed level.

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Schools Tap Local Farms for Nutritious, Locally Sourced Ingredients

Schools Tap Local Farms for Nutritious, Locally Sourced Ingredients: For National Farm to School Month, parents, farmers join kids for lunch, emphasize healthy eating. Pew Charitable Trusts. Stephanie Scarmo. October 12, 2016.

Across the country this month, kids are making space at their cafeteria tables for special guests as National School Lunch Week (Oct. 9-15) and National Farm to School Month are celebrated. These annual events encourage students and families to share meals and give them a chance to meet local farmers whose harvests provide many of the fresh, healthy ingredients.

Fun, educational occasions such as these play an important part in the success of school meal programs. For example, 42 percent of nutrition directors who established school gardens—a popular farm-to-school activity—said that students ate more fruits and vegetables as a result. In general, directors noted that eating habits and meal program participation improved when schools actively engaged children and parents in menu-planning decisions, such as via taste tests and recipe competitions. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Investigating Retail Price Premiums for Organic Foods

Investigating Retail Price Premiums for Organic Foods. Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Andrea Carlson. May 24, 2016.

Since USDA began regulating organic labels on food in 2002, the organic food sector has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the food industry. Total sales for organic food were just under $11.5 billion in 2004, climbing to an estimated $37 billion in 2015. Organic food sales even grew during the Great Recession, as organic products became available in more retail outlets, and growth has continued since. The Organic Trade Association reports that from 2011 to 2012, organic food sales grew 10.2 percent versus 3.7 percent for all food sales, and that organic sales were up 11.3 percent from 2013 to 2014.

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Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Agricultural Disaster Assistance. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Megan Stubbs. April 6, 2016.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several programs to help farmers recover financially from natural disasters, including drought and floods. All the programs have permanent authorization, and only one requires a federal disaster designation (the emergency loan program). Most programs receive mandatory funding amounts that are “such sums as necessary” and are not subject to annual discretionary appropriations.

[PDF format, 14 pages, 672.2 MB].

Assessing the US Feed the Future Initiative: A New Approach to Food Security?

Assessing the US Feed the Future Initiative: A New Approach to Food Security? Center for Global Development. Kimberly Ann Elliott and Casey Dunning. March 1, 2016.

Data on Feed the Future’s results are just becoming available, and there is strikingly little independent analysis of the program. The report assesses how Feed the Future performs against its stated objective of offering a new, more effective approach to food security. The integrated agriculture and nutrition approach emphasizes increased selectivity in aid allocations along with country ownership and capacity building to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of the initiative’s impacts. The report finds the initiative has led to an increase in the share of overall U.S. assistance for agriculture and nutrition, and that the Obama administration has increasingly concentrated this aid in selected focus countries. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 35 pages, 633.2 KB].

Effects of Recent Energy Price Reductions on U.S. Agriculture

Effects of Recent Energy Price Reductions on U.S. Agriculture. Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kandice Marshall et al. June 2015.

Over the last half of 2014, energy prices, including crude oil and natural gas, fell sharply and are expected to remain low at least through 2016. Lower energy prices will benefit the agricultural sector mainly via lower production and transport costs.

[PDF format, 21 pages, 639 KB].

U.S. Farm Income

U.S. Farm Income. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Randy Schnopf. December 10, 2012.

According to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), national net farm income–a key indicator of U.S. farm well-being–is forecast at $114 billion in 2012, down 3.3% from last year’s record, but still the second-highest total on record. In addition to near-record farm income, farm wealth is also at record levels. Farm asset values–which reflect farm investors’ and lenders’ expectations about long-term profitability of farmsector investments–are expected to rise nearly 7% in 2012 to a record $2,540 billion for a fourthconsecutive year of gains.

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