Exploring Alternative Farm Definitions: Implications for Agricultural Statistics and Program Eligibility

41 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2009

See all articles by Erik O'Donoghue

Erik O'Donoghue

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Robert A. Hoppe

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

David Banker

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Penni Korb

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Date Written: March 1, 2009

Abstract

Meeting agricultural policy and statistical goals requires a definition of U.S. agriculture's basic unit, the farm. However, these goals can be at odds with one another. USDA defines farm very broadly to comprehensively measure agricultural activity. Consequently, most establishments classified as farms in the United States produce very little, while most production occurs on a small number of much larger operations. While desirable for obtaining comprehensive national coverage, measurement and analysis based on the current definition can provide misleading characterizations of farms and farm structure in the United States. Additionally, more stringent requirements have been proposed for farms to qualify for Federal agricultural program benefits. This analysis outlines the structure of U.S. farms, discusses the current farm definition, evaluates several potential criteria that have been proposed to define target farms more precisely, and examines how these criteria affect both statistical coverage and program eligibility.

Keywords: Agricultural statistics, Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), farm businesses, farm definition, program eligibility

Suggested Citation

O'Donoghue, Erik and Hoppe, Robert A. and Banker, David and Korb, Penni, Exploring Alternative Farm Definitions: Implications for Agricultural Statistics and Program Eligibility (March 1, 2009). Economic Research Service, Paper No. 49. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1367833 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1367833

Erik O'Donoghue (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
(202) 694-5585 (Phone)

Robert A. Hoppe

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
(202) 694-5572 (Phone)

David Banker

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States

Penni Korb

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
(202) 694-5575 (Phone)

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