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What kind of information materials are available?
CD: Texts available on CD version.Texts available in multiple languages.
"Digital" cow

· Agricultural Biotechnology  CD
· A Condensed History (Timeline) of American Agriculture  CD

Department of Agriculture
Food and Agricultural Policy   CD
· The Future of the Family Farm
· National Rural Development Partnership
· The National Agricultural Workers Survey
Outline of the U.S. Economy: American Agriculture: Its Changing Significance
· Rural Development
· Rural Labor and Education: Farm Labor
U.S. Agricultural Trade: Trends, Composition, Direction, and Policy
· The U.S. Farm Economy

Original Documents
· Strategic Plan for FY 2004-2008


· Agriculture Statistics
· Agriculture Data
· Statistical Abstract 2008: Agriculture

Exhibits - Digital Images
· Agricultural Research Service. Image Gallery
· American Food Traditions
· The Future of a Family Farm

Agricultural Research Service. Video Archive
· USDA media broadcasts of news and events

For High School Students
· Agriculture in the Classroom
· Farming Then and Now
· Test Your Farm Knowledge
· USDA Youth Resources

Teacher Resources

· Agricultural Research Service: Educational Resources
· Bringing the Market to the Farm

· USDA Spotlights for Educator and Students
· Where Did You Come From?

Link Lists
· American Farm Bureau
Center for Agricultural and Rural Development
· National Agriculture Day

· USDA 2007 Farm Bill Proposals
What is the "Farm Bill?"


From the nation's earliest days, farming has held a crucial place in the American economy and culture. Early in the nation's life, farmers were seen as exemplifying economic virtues such as hard work, initiative, and self-sufficiency. American farmers owe their ability to produce large yields to a number of factors. The American Midwest has some of the richest soil in the world. Rainfall is modest to abundant over most areas of the country; rivers and underground water permit extensive irrigation where it is not. Large capital investments and increasing use of highly trained labor also have contributed to the success of American agriculture.

The first two decades of the 20th century turned out to be the golden age of American agriculture. Farm prices were high as demand for goods increased and land values rose. Technical advances continued to improve productivity. The good years of the early 20th century ended with falling prices following World War I. By the end of World War II, the farm economy faced the challenge of overproduction. Technological advances, such as the introduction of gasoline- and electric-powered machinery and the widespread use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, meant production per hectare was higher than ever. Today we see a highly diverse set of farms, responding with alacrity to apply unique technological possibilities to a new array of increasingly well articulated consumer demands in a globalized food system. The role of government will also continue to change, particularly as it relates to trade, farm policy, infrastructure demands, conservation and the environment, rural communities, and nutrition and food assistance.

American agriculture increasingly has become an "agribusiness." Agribusiness includes a variety of farm businesses and structures, from small, one-family corporations to huge conglomerates or multinational firms that own large tracts of land or that produce goods and materials used by farmers. Sometimes owned by absentee stockholders, these corporate farms use more machinery and far fewer farm hands. In 1940, there were 6 million farms averaging 67 hectares each. By the late 1990s, there were only about 2.2 million farms averaging 190 hectares in size. During roughly this same period, farm employment declined dramatically -- from 12.5 million in 1930 to 1.2 million in the 1990s. While production doubled over the last 50 years, farm numbers dropped by more than two-thirds. Today, about 150,000 American farmers produce most of our food and fiber. While among the world's most competitive farms, these operations make up just one segment of U.S. agriculture. USDA counts another 2 million farmers who meet the criterion of selling at least $1,000 worth of product annually, many of whom have other occupations but enjoy rural lifestyles.

Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.
Any reference obtained from this server to a specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the United States Government of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government.
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Updated:May 2008