Magazine article Amber Waves

Characteristics of U.S. Cotton Farms Vary Widely

Magazine article Amber Waves

Characteristics of U.S. Cotton Farms Vary Widely

Article excerpt

In the United States, cotton is a major field crop that generates significant cash receipts for farm producers, exceeded only by com, soybeans, wheat, and greenhouse products. Data from the most recent (2007) cotton version of USDA's Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) reveal that U.S. cotton farms are not homogeneous-operators have different characteristics and use different production practices. To examine these differences, ERS classified cotton farms by cotton production costs, region, cotton enterprise size (cotton acres), and farm size (gross annual sales).

Cotton producers in the United States were ranked according to their production costs per pound of cotton lint in 2007. The 25 percent of producers with the lowest and highest cotton costs per pound were grouped respectively in the low- and high-cost groups while the rest were classified as mid-cost producers. Operating and ownership costs ranged from an average of $0.44 per pound among low-cost producers to $1.02 per pound for high-cost producers. Low-cost producers, who accounted for 31 percent of the Nation's total cotton production, all had gross value of cotton production, based on harvest month price, that exceeded their production costs. In contrast, among the high-cost producers, who accounted for 13 percent of U.S.cotton production, only 4 percent covered their costs per pound from harvest month prices. Low-cost producers typically applied less inputs, such as seed and fertilizers, and made fewer trips across their cotton fields, which contributed to their low costs per pound. …

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