Congressional Research Service Reports - Browse

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The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer
This report discusses concerns about food safety, the resources required to ensure food safety, and whether federal food safety laws themselves, first enacted in the early 1900s, have kept pace with the significant changes that have occurred in the food production, processing, and marketing sectors since then.
U.S. Sugar Program Fundamentals
This report discusses the U.S. sugar program, which is singular among major agricultural commodity programs in that it combines a floor price guarantee with a supply management structure that encompasses both domestic production for human use and sugar imports.
The Role of Local and Regional Food Systems in U.S. Farm Policy
This report provides background information on many of the type of operations engaged in the U.S. local and regional food system. A wide range of farm businesses are involved in local foods, such as direct-to-consumer marketing, farmers' markets, farm-to-school programs, community-supported agriculture,6 community gardens, school gardens, food hubs and market aggregators, kitchen incubators, and mobile slaughter units. This report also highlights some of the available resources within existing federal programs administered by USDA and other agencies.
U.S. Farm Income Outlook for 2016
This report discusses this the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) farm income outlook and its implications. According to USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS), national net farm income--a key indicator of U.S. farm well-being--is forecast at $54.8 billion in 2016, down 3% from last year. The 2016 forecast represents the third consecutive year of decline and would be the lowest since 2002 in both nominal and inflation-adjusted dollars.
Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2016 Appropriations
This report discusses the Agriculture appropriations bill for FY 2016, which funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) -- except for the Forest Service -- as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in even-numbered fiscal years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
U.S. Agricultural Trade with Cuba: Current Limitations and Future Prospects
This report reviews the current state of agricultural trade between the United States and Cuba, identifies key impediments to expanding bilateral trade in agricultural products and key provisions in the law to which these obstacles are anchored. It also summarizes several of the bills introduced in the 114th Congress that propose to remove specific restrictions that impede trade in agricultural goods or that seek to lift the embargo on Cuba entirely.
Irrigation in U.S. Agriculture: On-Farm Technologies and Best Management Practices
This report is intended to provide an overview of on-farm irrigation and does not cover storage and conveyance prior to the farm or how irrigation adoption may alter other farm practices, such as the use of fertilizers and pesticides or impacts off-farm (e.g., groundwater and surface water quality concerns).
Farm Safety Net Programs: Background and Issues
This report discusses several programs operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that supplement the income of farmers and ranchers in times of low farm prices and natural disasters. Federal crop insurance, farm programs, and disaster assistance are collectively called the farm safety net.
U.S. Agricultural Trade with Cuba: Current Limitations and Future Prospects
This report reviews the current state of agricultural trade between the United States and Cuba. It identifies key impediments to expanding bilateral trade in agricultural products and key provisions in the law to which these obstacles are anchored, and also considers the potential consequences for trade in agricultural goods if bilateral trade were returned to a more normal footing. It also summarizes several of the bills introduced in the 114th Congress that propose to remove specific restrictions that impede trade in agricultural goods or that seek to lift the embargo on Cuba entirely.
FY2016 Agriculture and Related Agencies Appropriations: In Brief
This report discusses the Agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016, which funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) -- except for the Forest Service -- as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in even-numbered fiscal years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending, however, mandatory amounts are general set by other authorizing laws (such as the farm bill).
Update on the Highly-Pathogenic Avian Influenza Outbreak of 2014-2015
This report discusses selected issues regarding the severe outbreak of highly-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) currently affecting poultry in the U.S.
California Agricultural Production and Irrigated Water Use
This report provides an overview of California's farm economy, specifically examining the current state of the water supply and the use of irrigation water.
Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling
This report covers the dispute between the U.S with its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, who say that the recent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) system implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unfair and does not meet its original objectives. This dispute was brought before the WTO dispute panel and found to be valid. The report ends with a discussion of options for the U.S. in regards to modifying COOL to follow WTO rulings.
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza: Ongoing Outbreak
This report gives a brief overview of the pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which as of May 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported 168 cases.
2014 Farm Bill Provisions and WTO Compliance
This report briefly describes the relevant World Trade Organization (WTO) rules governing domestic support programs under the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM). The report then reviews the current U.S. farm safety net programs in light of their potential for compliance with the AoA and SCM and their potential to affect the success of the current Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.
U.S. Farm Income Outlook for 2015
This report discusses national net farm income, which is a key indicator of U.S. farm well-being. The outlook for lower net farm income, coupled with record farm wealth, suggests a mixed financial picture heading into 2015 for the agricultural sector as a whole, with substantial regional variation.
Bee Health: The Role of Pesticides
This report briefly describes recent scientific research and analysis regarding the potential role of pesticides among the factors affecting the health and well-being of bees.
Farm Safety Net Programs: Background and Issues
This report discusses several programs operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that supplement the income of farmers and ranchers in times of low farm prices and natural disasters. Federal crop insurance, farm programs, and disaster assistance are collectively called the farm safety net.
Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling
This report covers the dispute between the U.S with its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, who say that the recent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) system implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unfair and does not meet its original objectives. This dispute was brought before the WTO dispute panel and found to be valid. The report ends with a discussion of options for the U.S. in regards to modifying COOL to follow WTO rulings.
U.S.-EU Poultry Dispute on the Use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs)
This report highlights the dispute between the U.S. and EU over the use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs) during the processing of poultry products. PRT's are antimicrobial rinses--including chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, and peroxyacids, among others--that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for use in poultry processing to reduce the amount of microbes on meat.
Emergency Assistance for Agricultural Land Rehabilitation
This report describes emergency agricultural land assistance programs designed to repair agricultural and forest land following a natural disaster and potentially mitigate future risk. It presents background on the programs--purpose, activities, authority, eligibility requirements, and authorized program funding levels, as well as current congressional issues.
Agriculture in the WTO Bali Ministerial Agreement
At the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, December 3-7, 2013, ministers adopted the so-called Bali Package--a series of decisions aimed at streamlining trade (referred to as trade facilitation), allowing developing countries more options for providing food security, boosting least-developed-country trade, and helping development more generally. This report focuses on those aspects of the Bali Package that deal with and are specific to agriculture. It also includes a section (at the end of the report) that provides an update on the status of implementation of the various Bali Package provisions agreed to by the WTO.
Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations
This report discusses various policy aspects of the Agriculture appropriations bill for FY2015, which funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), except for the Forest Service.
The Farm Safety Net: In Brief
This report discusses the several programs operated by The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that supplement the income of farmers and ranchers in times of low farm prices and natural disasters. The programs are collectively called the farm safety net.
Agriculture in the WTO: Rules and Limits on Domestic Support
This report provides a brief overview of the World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments most relevant for U.S. domestic farm policy. The report discusses a key question that policy makers ask of virtually every new farm proposal is, how will it affect U.S. commitments under the WTO? The answer depends not only on cost, but also on the proposal's design and objectives, as described below.
Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture: EPA’s Air Compliance Agreement
This report discusses a plan announced by EPA in January 2005, called the Air Compliance Agreement, that would produce air quality monitoring data on animal agriculture emissions from a small number of farms, while at the same time protecting all participants (including farms where no monitoring takes place) through a “safe harbor” from liability under certain provisions of federal environmental laws.
What Is the Farm Bill?
This report describes the Farm Bill (P.L. 110-246, Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, which was enacted into law on June 18, 2008.
Environmental Regulation and Agriculture
This report provides the background, status, and issues related to selected environmental regulations or initiatives possibly affecting agriculture that have drawn attention in and beyond Congress.
Conservation Compliance and U.S. Farm Policy
This report discusses various provisions designed to reduce production and conserve soil and water resources. Many of the provisions remain in effect today, including the two compliance provisions--highly erodible land conservation (sodbuster) and wetland conservation (swampbuster).
Programs Without a Budget Baseline at the End of the 2008 Farm Bill
This report discusses the 2008 farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246), which provided mandatory funding for many programs. Some of these programs had budget baseline beyond the end of the farm bill in FY2012, while others did not.
What Is the Farm Bill?
This report discusses the farm bill, which is an omnibus, multi-year piece of authorizing legislation that governs an array of agricultural and food programs.
Farm Commodity Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79)
This report describes the farm commodity programs in Title I of the 2014 farm bill for "covered commodities" such as wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, and peanuts. Producer support is provided for the 2014-2018 crop years primarily through either statutory ("reference") prices or historical revenue guarantees based on the five most recent years of crop prices and yields.
What Is the Farm Bill?
This report describes the Farm Bill (P.L. 110-246, Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008), which was enacted into law on June 18, 2008.
Status of the WTO Brazil-U.S. Cotton Case
This report provides a description and status report on Brazil's challenge to certain aspects of the U.S. cotton program under the rules of the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) dispute settlement process in case DS267.
Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling
This report covers the dispute between the U.S with its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, who say that the recent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) system implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unfair and does not meet its original objectives. This dispute was brought before the WTO dispute panel and found to be valid. The report ends with a discussion of options for the U.S. in regards to modifying COOL to follow WTO rulings.
Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling
This report covers the dispute between the U.S with its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, who say that the recent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) system implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unfair and does not meet its original objectives. This dispute was brought before the WTO dispute panel and found to be valid. The report ends with a discussion of options for the U.S. in regards to modifying COOL to follow WTO rulings.
Agriculture in the WTO: Limits on Domestic Support
This report provides a brief overview of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) commitments most relevant for U.S. domestic farm policy.
The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer
This report discusses concerns about food safety, the resources required to ensure food safety, and whether federal food safety laws themselves, first enacted in the early 1900s, have kept pace with the significant changes that have occurred in the food production, processing, and marketing sectors since then.
The U.S. Trade Situation for Fruit and Vegetable Products
This report presents recent trends in U.S. fruit and vegetable trade and highlights some of the factors contributing to these trends. This summary excludes trade data for tree nuts and processed tree nut products.
Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports
This report discusses the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which provides duty-free tariff treatment for certain products from designated developing countries. Opinion within the U.S. agriculture industry is mixed, reflecting both support for and opposition to the current program. The 111th Congress did not extend the GSP in 2010, and it was set to expire December 31, 2010, which will likely become a legislative issue in the 112th Congress.
U.S.-EU Poultry Dispute on the Use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs)
This report highlights the dispute between the U.S. and EU over the use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs) during the processing of poultry products. PRT's are antimicrobial rinses--including chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, and peroxyacids, among others--that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for use in poultry processing to reduce the amount of microbes on meat.
Reauthorization of SNAP and Other Nutrition Programs in the Next Farm Bill: Issues for the 113th Congress
This report discusses the Nutrition Title (Title IV) of the pending farm bills and elaborates on the most controversial issues and differences between Senate and House proposals. Policies that are not necessarily controversial but are complex are also included in this report.
What Is the Farm Bill?
This report discusses the farm bill, which is an omnibus, multi-year piece of authorizing legislation that governs an array of agricultural and food programs.
Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling
This report covers the dispute between the U.S with its neighbors Canada and Mexico, who say that the recent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) system implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unfair and does not meet its original objectives. This dispute was brought before the WTO dispute panel and found to be valid. The report ends with a discussion of options for the U.S. in regards to modifying COOL to follow WTO rulings.
Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling
Report that covers the dispute between the U.S with its neighbors Canada and Mexico, who say that the recent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) system implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unfair and does not meet its original objectives.
What Is the Farm Bill?
Report that describes the Farm Bill (P.L. 110-246, "2008 farm bill"), the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, which was enacted into law on June 18, 2008. It discusses the most recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) "baseline" budget (May 2013
Agricultural Export Programs: Background and Issues
Report that discusses the agricultural export programs that aim to develop overseas markets for U.S. agricultural products.
The 2013 Farm Bill: A Comparison of the Senate-Passed Bill (S. 954) and House- Reported Bill (H.R. 1947) with Current Law
Report that provides a side-by-side comparison of every provision in the House Agriculture Committee-reported and Senate-passed farm bills with each other and with current law or policy, as amended and extended by the fiscal cliff bill.
Unapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Discovered in Oregon: Status and Implications
This report discusses the 2013 discovery of unapproved Genetically Engineered (GE) wheat in eastern Oregon and its effect on future policy considerations and regulatory structures in biotechnology.
Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling
This report covers the dispute between the U.S and its neighbors Canada and Mexico, who say that the recent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) system implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unfair and does not meet its original objectives. The dispute was brought before the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panel and found to be valid. The report ends with a discussion of options for the U.S. in regards to modifying COOL to follow WTO rulings.