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Characteristics and Production Costs-This series of reports presents information on how production costs vary among producers of different commodities and the possible reasons for this variation. Reports also include details on production practices and input use levels, as well as farm operator and structural characteristics.

The Diverse Structure and Organization of U.S. Beef Cow-Calf Farms (March 2011) uses 2008 ARMS data for U.S. beef cow-calf farms to study their structure and organization.  Findings suggest that many small operations are "rural residence farms" that specialize in beef cow-calf production, but their income from off-farm sources exceeds that from the farm. Most beef cow-calf production occurs on large farms, but cow-calf production is not the primary enterprise on many of these farms. Findings suggest that operators of beef cow-calf farms have a diverse set of goals for the cattle enterprise.

Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming (November 2009) uses 2005 ARMS data for U.S. dairy operations, which include a targeted sample of organic milk producers, to examine the structure, costs, and challenges of organic milk production. Findings suggest that economic forces have made organic operations more like conventional operations and that the future structure of the industry may depend on the interpretation and implementation of new organic pasture rules.

The Changing Economics and U.S. Hog Production (December 2007) uses 1992, 1998, and 2004 ARMS data for U.S. hog farms to study the structural and productivity changes in U.S. hog production from 1992-2004.  Findings show that large operations specializing in a single phase of production are replacing farrow-to-finish operations that performed all phases of production. The use of production contracts has increased. Operations producing under contract are larger than independent operations and are more likely to specialize in a single phase of production. These structural changes have coincided with substantial gains in efficiency for hog farms and lower production costs. Most of these productivity gains are attributable to increases in the scale of production and technological innovation.

Last updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013

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