CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Agriculture: A Glossary
of Terms, Programs, and Laws
October 1, 1997
Jasper Womach, Coordinator
Agricultural Policy Specialist
Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Principal CRS contributors to this glossary are: Geoffrey S. Becker; John
Blodgett; Ralph Chite; Jean Yavis Jones; Paul Rockwell; and Jasper Womach. Other
CRS contributors are: Eugene Boyd; Lynne Corn; Betsy Cody; Claudia Copeland;
Diane Duffy; Bruce Foote; Ross Gorte; Charles Hanrahan; Remy Jurenas; Martin R.
Lee; Donna Porter; Jean M. Rawson; Joe Richardson; Jack Taylor; Linda Schierow;
Mary Tiemann; Donna Vogt; and Jeffrey Zinn. Jasper Womach is responsible for
coordination and editing. Because the industry, federal programs, policy issues, and
the law are continuously changing, this glossary will be updated in the future.
Suggestions and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws
The complexities of federal farm and food programs have generated a unique
vocabulary. Common understanding of these terms (new and old) is important to
those involved in policymaking in this area. For this reason, the House Agriculture
Committee requested that CRS prepare a glossary of agriculture and related terms
(e.g., food programs, conservation, forestry, environmental protection, etc.). Besides
defining terms and phrases with specialized meanings for agriculture, the glossary also
identifies acronyms, agencies, programs, and laws related to agriculture that are of
particular interest to the staff and Members of Congress. CRS is releasing it for
general congressional use with the permission of the Committee.
The approximately 1,700 items selected for inclusion in this glossary were
determined in large part by Committee instructions concerning their needs, and by the
informed judgment of numerous CRS experts. Time and resource constraints
influenced how much and what was included. Many of the glossary explanations have
been drawn from other published sources, including previous CRS glossaries, those
published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies, and
glossaries contained in the publications of various organizations, universities, and
authors. In collecting these definitions, the compilers discovered that many terms
have diverse specialized meanings in different professional settings. In this glossary,
the definitions or explanations have been written to reflect their relevance to
agriculture and recent changes in farm and food policies.
This glossary is in alphabetical order and contains an explanation for each term
with appropriate cross references. The terms shown in bold in the text of narrative
explanations are included elsewhere as individual glossary terms; additionally, there
are cross references to related terms. Some of the acronyms, particularly those of
organizations and associations, are not followed by an explanation.
The definitions and explanations are not legal in nature, but are explanatory.
Hence, this document should not be used as a legal or administrative reference. For
those purposes, the Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, and the Code of Federal
Regulations are the more appropriate resources.
Agriculture: A Glossary
of Terms, Programs, and Laws
AAEA — American Agricultural Economics Association
AAFCO — American Association of Feed Control Officials
AAM — American Agriculture Movement
AAMP — American Association of Meat Processors
AARCC — Alternative Agriculture Research and Commercialization Corporation
ABA — American Bakers Association; American Bankers Association; American Bar
Abandoned wells —Abandoned drainage wells and abandoned water wells on vacant
farmsteads are of particular concern for agriculture. Abandoned wells can present both safety
risks and a direct conduit by which groundwater can be contaminated by surface runoff. A
number of states have incentive and/or regulatory programs to cap or seal abandoned wells.
AC — Area conservationist
ACA — Agricultural Credit Association
ACE — Agriculture in Concert with the Environment
Acid deposition / acid rain — Abnormally acidic (low pH) precipitation (or dry
deposition) resulting from emissions of sulfur and nitrogen compounds that transform during
chemical processes in the atmosphere. Acid deposition can affect the chemistry of soils and
acidify lakes, adversely affecting forests and fish. It does not adversely affect cropland. The
Clean Air Act includes a program focused on controlling precursor emissions of acid
deposition—primarily sulfur oxides from coal-fired electric utilities.
ACP — Agricultural Conservation Program
ACPA — American Crop Protection Association
Acquired lands — Lands in federal ownership that were obtained by the federal government
through purchase, condemnation, gift, or exchange. One category of public lands.
ACR — Acreage conservation reserve
Acre-foot — The volume of water that would cover one acre of land (43,560 square feet)
to a depth of one foot, equivalent to 325,851 gallons of water. An acre-foot is the basic
measure of agricultural water use. On average, irrigators apply almost 2 feet of water on each
acre through the crop growing season; the amount ranges from 4 feet in the Southwest to a
half foot in some eastern states. Irrigation accounts for about 85 maf (million acre-feet) of
water use annually.
Acreage allotment — Under provisions of permanent commodity price support law, a
farm’s acreage allotment is its share, based on its previous production, of the national acreage
needed to produce sufficient supplies of a particular crop. Under the FAIR Act of 1996,
acreage allotments are not applicable to the contract commodities, peanuts, or sugar.
However, acreage allotments still apply to tobacco.
Acre — 1 acre=43,560 sq. ft.=208.7 ft.2 =0.405 hectares; or 640 acres=1 sq. mile (called a
Acreage base (or base acres) — A farm’s average planted acreage for a specific crop over
the previous five years (for wheat or feed grains) or three years (for cotton or rice), plus land
not planted because of certain acreage reduction or diversion programs. Commodity
acreage bases were eliminated by the FAIR Act of 1996.
Acreage limitation — With respect to commodity policy, acreage limitation might refer to
planting constraints under an acreage reduction program, set-aside, or paid land
diversion. In relation to water policy, it is the maximum number of acres that may be
irrigated with less than full-cost water from Bureau of Reclamation projects. Generally,
the acreage limitation for individuals or legal entities representing 25 people or fewer is 960
acres; however, amounts vary depending on a landowner’s legal status. Also referred to as
ownership limitation, ownership entitlement, or non-full-cost entitlement.
Acreage Reduction Program (ARP) — A no longer authorized annual cropland
retirement program for wheat, feed grains, cotton, or rice in which farmers participating in the
commodity programs (in order to be eligible for nonrecourse loans and deficiency
payments) were mandated to idle a crop-specific, nationally-set portion of their base
acreage during years of surplus. The idled acreage (called the acreage conservation reserve)
was devoted to a conserving use. The goal was to reduce supplies, thereby raising market
prices. Additionally, idled acres did not earn deficiency payments, thus reducing
commodity program costs. ARP was criticized for diminishing the U.S. competitive position
in export markets. The FAIR Act of 1996 did not reauthorize authority for ARPs. ARP
differed from a set-aside program in that under a set-aside program reductions were
based upon current year plantings, and did not require farmers to reduce their plantings of a
ACS — Alternative conservation system
ACSH — American Council on Science and Health
Action levels — As opposed to tolerances (which are established for pesticide residues
occurring as a direct result of proper usage), action levels are set for inadvertent residues
resulting from previous legal use or accidental contamination. At the action level set by EPA,
FDA and USDA are required to take enforcement action against the contaminated food or
agricultural commodity. The term is also used in other regulatory programs.
Active ingredient — In any pesticide product, the component that kills, or otherwise
controls, target pests. Pesticides are regulated by EPA primarily on the basis of active
ACTPN — Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations
Actuarially sound — The financial goal of any insurance program (including the federal
crop insurance program) is to operate on an actuarially sound basis; that is, total
premiums collected should more than offset total indemnities paid out.
Acute toxicity — The ability of a substance to cause harmful effects soon after a single
exposure or dose. Also, any severe poisonous effect resulting from a single short-term
exposure to a toxic substance. See also chronic toxicity.
AD — Anti-dumping duty
Ad valorem duty — A tariff expressed as a fixed percentage of the value of the imported
commodity or product.
ADA — American Dairy Association; American Dietetic Association
ADC — Animal Damage Control Program
Additional peanuts — Peanuts sold from a farm in any marketing year in excess of the
amount of quota peanuts (see peanut poundage quota) sold from that farm. Additional
peanuts must be exported or crushed into oil and meal. Additionals are eligible only for the
lower of two price support levels available under the peanut price support program.
The lower additionals loan rate is set to ensure that the CCC does not incur losses on their sale
and disposal. In setting this support level, USDA is also required to take into account the
demand for peanut oil and meal, expected prices of other vegetable oils and protein meals, and
the demand for peanuts in foreign markets. Under the FAIR Act of 1996, loans for
additional peanuts remain available.
ADI — Acceptable daily intake
Adjusted world price (cotton) — As part of the upland cotton marketing assistance
loan program, USDA calculates and publishes, on a weekly basis, what is known as the
adjusted world price (AWP). The AWP is the prevailing world price for upland cotton,
adjusted to account for U.S. quality and location. Producers who have taken out USDA
marketing assistance loans may choose to repay them at either the lesser of the established
loan rate for upland cotton, plus interest, or the announced AWP for that week. The AWP
is also used for determining so-called Step 2 payments.
Administrative Procedure Act — P.L. 79-404 (July 11, 1946), as amended, establishes,
among other things, minimum procedural requirements or models for federal agency
rulemaking and certain types of hearings. For instance, the APA establishes procedures for
informal rulemaking, which may include notice-and-comment requirements, or formal
rulemaking, which includes trial-type hearings. Exemptions from rulemaking requirements
are included in the Act. The APA provides standards for judicial review of final agency
action. The provisions of the APA apply to USDA rulemaking, unless exempted under the
provisions of another statute. For example, hearings conducted by the USDA's National
Appeals Division (NAD) are not governed by the APA. The final determination of the
NAD is reviewable and enforceable by a U.S. District Court in accordance with the judicial
review provisions of the APA.
Adulterated food — Generally, impure, unsafe, or unwholesome; however, the Federal
Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, and the Poultry
Products Inspection Act contain separate language defining in very specific (and lengthy)
terms how the term “adulterated” will be applied to the foods each of these laws regulates.
Products that are adulterated under these laws’ definitions cannot enter into commerce for
human food use.
Advance deficiency payments — Initial payments (ranging from 30 to 50% of the total
payment) made to crop producers when they signed up for federal commodity programs.
If the total deficiency payment was eventually calculated to be less than the advance
deficiency payment, the producer was required to refund the difference. The FAIR Act of
1996 replaces the target price/deficiency payment subsidy mechanism with production
flexibility contract payments.
AFBF — American Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau)
AFDO — Association of Food and Drug Officials
AFFI — American Frozen Food Institute
AFIA — American Feed Industry Association
AFT — American Farmland Trust
Agency for International Development (AID or USAID) — An independent agency
of the executive branch that administers U.S. international development and humanitarian
assistance programs. USAID administers commodity donations for humanitarian or
development purposes under P.L. 480, or Food for Peace, and commodity import
Aggregate measure of support (AMS) — An indicator of the amount of domestic
support for agriculture. As used in the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, the
AMS refers to a measure of the gap between domestic and world prices multiplied by the
quantity supported, plus any other commodity-specific transfers. Internal or domestic support
reduction commitments in the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture are expressed in
terms of reductions in a total AMS covering all trade-distorting internal support measures for
Agribusiness — Agriculturally related businesses that supply farm inputs (such as fertilizer
or equipment) or are involved in the marketing of farm products (such as warehouses,
processors, wholesalers, transporters, and retailers). Farms are not usually included when the
term agribusiness is used.
Agricultural Act of 1949 — P.L. 89-439 (October 31, 1949), along with the
Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, makes up the major part of the permanent law
that mandates commodity price and farm income support. The original 1949 Act designated
mandatory support for basic commodities and the following nonbasic commodities:
wool and mohair, tung nuts, honey, Irish potatoes (excluded in the Agricultural Act of
1954), and milk, butterfat, and their products. Periodic farm bills (most recently the FAIR
Act of 1996) make temporary changes in the levels and design of commodity programs.
Agricultural Act of 1954 — P.L. 83-690 (August 28, 1954) established a flexible price
support for basic commodities (excluding tobacco) at 82.5-90% of parity and authorized a
Commodity Credit Corporation reserve for foreign and domestic relief. Title VII was
designated the National Wool Act of 1954 and provided for a new price support
program for wool and mohair to encourage increased domestic production. Price support for
wool and mohair continued through marketing year 1995, at which time it was phased down
and terminated under the explicit mandate of P.L. 103-130 (November 1, 1993).
Agricultural Act of 1956 —P.L. 84-540 (May 28, 1956) created the Soil Bank
Program (Title I of was called the Soil Bank Act) addressed the disposal of CCC
inventories of surplus stocks, contained commodity support program provisions, and forestry
provisions. The Soil Bank Act authorized short- and long-term removal of land from
production with annual rental payments to participants (Acreage Reserve Program and
Conservation Reserve Program, respectively). The Acreage Reserve Program, for wheat,
corn, rice, cotton, peanuts, and several types of tobacco, allowed producers to retire land on
an annual basis in crop years 1956 through 1959 in return for payments. The Conservation
Reserve Program allowed producers to retire cropland under contracts of 3, 5, or 10 years in
return for annual payments. The Soil Bank Act was repealed by Section 601 of the Food
and Agriculture Act of 1965. The Conservation Reserve portion of the Soil Bank was
a model for the subsequent Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), enacted in 1985.
Agricultural Act of 1970 — P.L. 91-524 (November 30, 1970) initiated a significant
change in commodity support policy. This 3-year farm bill replaced some of the more
restrictive and mandatory features of acreage allotments, planting restrictions, and marketing
quotas with voluntary annual cropland set-asides and marketing certificate payments to
achieve parity prices (the precursor to target prices and deficiency payments). For
the first time, the law adopted a payment limitation per producer (set at $55,000 per crop).
The Act also amended and extended the authority of the Class I differential in federal milk
marketing order areas.
Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933 — P.L. 73-10 (May 12, 1933) was the
New Deal initiative to assist the farm sector during the Great Depression. This was the first
comprehensive effort to raise and stabilize farm prices and income. The law created and
authorized the Agricultural Adjustment Administration to (1) enter into voluntary agreements
to pay farmers to reduce production of designated “basic” commodities (cotton, wheat,
corn, rice, tobacco, hogs, and milk), (2) to make advance payments to farmers who stored
crops on the farm, (3) to create marketing agreements between farmers and middlemen,
and (4) to levy processing taxes to pay for production adjustment and market development.
The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) was incorporated under the laws of the
state of Delaware on October 17, 1933, to carry out financial activities, including making
nonrecourse loans on the basic crops. Support for other commodities was authorized upon
recommendation by the Secretary with the President’s approval. Commodity loan programs
carried out by the CCC for 1933-37 included cotton, corn, rosin, turpentine, tobacco, peanuts,
dates, figs, and prunes. The provisions for production control and processing taxes in the Act
were later declared unconstitutional in the Hoosac Mills decision of 1936. Congress
responded by adopting the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936,
the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1937, and the Agricultural Adjustment Act of
1938, all of which remain as permanent law.
Agricultural Adjustment Act Amendment of 1935 — P.L. 74-320 (August 24, 1935)
made several important and lasting changes to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933.
Section 22 of the law gave the President authority to impose quotas when imports interfered
with commodity programs designed to raise prices and farm income. Section 32 was
designed to widen market outlets for surplus agricultural commodities by permanently
appropriating funds to purchase commodities for primarily child nutrition programs.
Section 22 has been superseded, but Section 32 continues to operate.
Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 — P.L. 75-430 (February 16, 1938) was enacted
as an alternative and replacement for the farm subsidy policies found unworkable in the AAA
legislation of 1933. The 1938 Act was the first to make price support mandatory for corn,
cotton, and wheat to help maintain a sufficient supply in low production periods along with
marketing quotas to keep supply in line with market demand. It established permissive
supports for butter, dates, figs, hops, turpentine, rosin, pecans, prunes, raisins, barley, rye,
grain sorghum, wool, winter cover-crop seeds, mohair, peanuts, and tobacco for the 1938-40
period. Also, Title V of the Act established the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation.
The 1938 Act is considered part of permanent legislation for commodity programs and
farm income support (along with the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and
the Agricultural Act of 1949). Provisions of this law are often superseded by more current
legislation (such as the FAIR Act of 1996). However, if the current legislation expires and
new legislation is not enacted, the law reverts back to the permanent provisions of the 1938
Agricultural Attache, Counselor, or Trade Officer — An agricultural expert,
employed by the Foreign Agricultural Service, on the staff of an embassy, consulate, or
agricultural trade office.
Agricultural Conservation Program (ACP) — Administered by the Farm Service
Agency, this largest and oldest conservation cost-sharing program paid farmers up to $3,500
per year as an incentive to install approved conservation practices. It was terminated in the
FAIR Act of 1996 and replaced by a new Environmental Quality Incentives
Agricultural diversification — A system of farming that encourages production of a
variety of plant and animals and their products as opposed to monoculture or large-scale
specialization. Advocates of diversification argue that it provides greater income stability.
Specialized farms benefit from economies of size.
Agricultural Market Transition Act (AMTA) — Title I of the FAIR Act of 1996.
It allows farmers who have participated in the wheat, feed grain, cotton, and rice programs
in any one of the 5 years prior to 1996 to enter into 7-year production flexibility
contracts for 1996-2002. Total national production flexibility contract payments
(sometimes called AMTA payments, or contract payments) for each fiscal year are fixed
in the law. The AMTA allows farmers to plant 100% of their total contract acreage to any
crop except fruits and vegetables, and receive a full payment. Land must be maintained in
agricultural uses. Unlimited haying and grazing and planting and harvesting alfalfa and
other forage crops are permitted with no reduction in payments.
Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 — This law reaffirmed the marketing
agreements provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 and redefined the
process for establishing marketing orders. Under the authority of this permanent law and
subsequent amendments, marketing orders have been established for milk as well as numerous
fruits and vegetables.
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) — A USDA agency that establishes standards
for grades of cotton, tobacco, meat, dairy products, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. It also
operates inspection and grading services and market news services, and provides supervisory
administration for federal marketing orders. http://www.ams.usda.gov/
Agricultural pollution — Wastes, emissions, and discharges arising from farming
activities. Causes include runoff and leaching of pesticides and fertilizers; pesticide drift
and volatilization; erosion and dust from cultivation; and improper disposal of animal
manure and carcasses. Some agricultural pollution is point source, e.g., large feedlots,
which require permits under the Clean Water Act, but much is nonpoint source, meaning
that it derives from dispersed origins, e.g., blowing dust or nutrients leaching from fields. As
most pollution control programs have focused on particular categories of point sources,
nonpoint and unregulated point sources account for an increasingly large proportion of
remaining pollution. Based on state surveys, EPA concludes that agricultural sources account
for over one-half the pollution impairing surface water quality in the U.S. The Clean Water
Act mandates that states develop and implement management programs to control nonpoint
sources of water pollution.
Agricultural Quarantine Inspection (AQI) — A program, administered by USDA’s
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, that inspects incoming passengers,
luggage, and cargo at U.S. ports of entry in order to protect U.S. agriculture from foreign
animal and plant pests and diseases.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) — A USDA agency employing federal scientists
to conduct basic, applied, and developmental research in the following fields: livestock; plants;
soil, water and air quality; energy; food safety and quality; nutrition; food processing, storage,
and distribution efficiency; non-food agricultural products; and international development.
Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) — This was the USDA
agency once primarily responsible for administering the farm commodity price and income
support programs, and conservation cost-sharing programs. Its functions were folded into a
new Farm Service Agency as a consequence of 1994 reorganization. A local field
service center is maintained in nearly all farming localities.
Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954 — P.L. 83-480 (July
10, 1954) is commonly referred to as “PL 480" and “Food for Peace.” The law
established what continues to be the primary U.S. overseas food assistance program. The
program made U.S. agricultural commodities available through long-term credit at low
interest rates and provided food donations.
Agricultural trade office — The Agricultural Trade Act of 1978 directed the
establishment of trade offices in major centers of commerce throughout the world.
Agricultural trade offices are operated by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to
develop, maintain, and expand international markets for U.S. agricultural commodities and
serve as centers for export sales promotion and contact points for importers seeking to buy
U.S. farm products.
Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973 — P.L. 93-86 (August 10, 1973)
was the 4-year farm bill that adopted target prices and deficiency payments as a tool
that would support farm income but reduce forfeitures to the Commodity Credit
Corporation of surplus stocks. It reduced payment limitations to $20,000 (from
$55,000 set in 1970) for all program crops. The Act might be considered the first omnibus
farm bill because it went beyond simply authorizing farm commodity programs. It authorized
disaster payments and disaster reserve inventories; created the Rural Environmental
Conservation Program; amended the Food Stamp Act of 1964, authorized the use of
commodities for feeding low income mothers and young children (the origin of the
supplemental food program); and amended the Rural Development Act of 1972.
Agriculture and Food Act of 1981 — P.L. 97-98 (December 22, 1981) was the 4-year
omnibus farm bill that continued and modified commodity programs through 1985. It set
specific target prices for 4 years, eliminated rice allotments and marketing quotas, lowered
dairy supports, and made other changes affecting a wide range of USDA activities. The next
year this farm bill was amended to freeze the dairy price support level and mandate loan rates
and acreage reserve provisions for the 1983 crops (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of
1982, P.L. 97-253). Again in 1984, amendments were adopted to freeze target prices,
authorize paid land diversion for feed grains, upland cotton, and rice, and provide a wheat
payment-in-kind program for 1984 (Agricultural Programs Adjustment Act of 1984, P.L.
Agriculture in Concert with the Environment (ACE) — An EPA program,
administered cooperatively with USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and
Education (SARE) program, to fund research projects that reduce the risk of pollution
from pesticides and soluble fertilizers.
AHI — Animal Health Institute
AID — Agency for International Development
AIF — Animal Industry Foundation
Air pollution — Contamination of the atmosphere by substances that, directly or indirectly,
adversely affect human health or welfare. Air pollution results from human activities, both
deliberate releases (as from smokestacks) and fugitive emissions (as dust blown from streets
or fields), and from natural sources, including sea spray, volcanic emissions, pollen, etc. The
Clean Air Act authoritizes EPA to regulate air pollution (see National Ambient Air
Alar — Trade name for daminozide, a plant regulator and therefore classed as a pesticide,
that makes apples redder, firmer, and less likely to drop off trees before harvest. It was also
used to a lesser extent on peanuts, tart cherries, concord grapes, and other fruits. Alar was
suspended by EPA in 1989 following a controversy over allegations of cancer risk to children
from residues of Alar and its breakdown product UDMH on apples and in apple products.
Alcohol — The family name of a group of organic chemical compounds that includes
methanol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and others. Ethanol is produced from crops or residues
with a high carbohydrate content. Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol, and ethanol is blended
with gasoline to produce gasohol. Most industrial ethanol produced in the U.S. is from corn
Allotment — In conjunction with commodity support programs, acreage allotments and
marketing quotas serve to limit a farm's output or volume marketed. For federal lands
grazing, an allotment is an area designated and managed for grazing of livestock. The
Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service stipulate the number of livestock
and time period (season) of use for each allotment.
Allowable sale quantity (ASQ) — A forestry term defined in law as the maximum
amount of timber that can be sold every year, forever, from a national forest; in forest
planning, the annual timber sale target for a national forest.
Alternative Agricultural Research and Commercialization Corporation
(AARCC) — Originally established by the FACT Act 1990 as the Applied Agricultural
Research Commercialization Center, the purpose of the AARCC is to assist in the research,
development, and commercialization of new nonfood products from agricultural and forestry
commodities. AARC makes repayable equity investments, such as buying stock or taking a
percentage of future sales (royalties), or both. The FAIR Act of 1996 changed the Center
from a government agency to a wholly-owned venture capital corporation of USDA.
Alternative agriculture — A systematic approach to farming intended to reduce
agricultural pollution, enhance sustainability, and improve efficiency and profitability.
Overall, alternative agriculture emphasizes management practices that take advantage of
natural processes (such as nutrient cycles, nitrogen fixation, and pest-predator relationships),
improve the match between cropping patterns and agronomic practices on the one hand and
the productive potential and physical characteristics of the land on the other, and make
selective use of commercial fertilizer and pesticides to ensure production efficiency and
conservation of soil, water, energy, and biological resources. Examples of alternative
agricultural practices include use of crop rotation, animal and green manures, soil and water
conserving tillage systems, such as no-till planting methods, integrated pest
management, and use of genetically improved crops and animals. Consonant with
sustainable agriculture, alternative agriculture focuses on those farming practices that go
beyond traditional or conventional agriculture, though it does not exclude conventional
practices that are consistent with the overall system.
Alternative fuels — Substitutes for traditional liquid, oil-derived motor vehicle fuels like
gasoline and diesel. Includes methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas, and others. The
alternatives are promoted for pollution reduction properties and/or to reduce U.S. dependence
on imported oil. Ethanol can be produced from grain, agricultural wastes, and excess crops.
AMI — American Meat Institute
Ammonia — A pungent alkaline gas, a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen (NH3). It is
formed naturally when bacteria decompose nitrogen-containing compounds, such as manures.
Emissions of ammonia can be a problem in enclosed livestock facilities, and in the ambient
air they may contribute to very fine particulate matter. Synthetic ammonia is used as a
nitrogen fertilizer. Also called anhydrous ammonia, it is the basic feed stock for the
production of all nitrogen fertilizers as well as being a direct application material. Synthetic
ammonia is made through a reaction between natural gas and nitrogen.
AMS — Aggregate measure of support; Agricultural Marketing Service
AMTA — Agricultural Market Transition Act
ANCOM — Andean Common Market
Andean Common Market (ANCOM or Andean Group) — Formed in May 1969
by Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia under the Cartegena Agreement, which called for
eliminating all barriers to trade by the end of 1980 and the establishment of a common
external tariff. Venezuela joined in 1973. Chile withdrew in 1976.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) — A USDA agency
established to conduct inspections and regulatory and control programs to protect animal and
plant health. It utilizes border inspections to prevent international transmission of pests and
disease, administers quarantine and eradication programs, and certifies that U.S. exports meet
importing countries’ animal and plant health standards. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/
Animal Damage Control (ADC) Program — An Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service program to protect agriculture, natural resources, property or
endangered species from unwanted and potentially harmful effects of wildlife species,
including predators. ADC also works to prevent wildlife/airplane collision hazards at civilian
and military airports.
Animal drugs — Drugs intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or
prevention of disease in animals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the
broad mandate under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act to assure the safety and
effectiveness of animal drugs and their use in all animals, including farm animals. Before
FDA formally approves an animal drug, the sponsor or manufacturer of the drug must show
in its premarket approval application that the drug is “safe and effective” in scientific testing.
Such testing data, included with the application, must demonstrate a methodology to detect
and measure any residue left in edible animal products and show that edible animal products
when ready-to-eat are free from unsafe residues. Farmers and veterinarians treating farm
animals must adhere to any restrictions about withdrawal times, or any warning or use
constraints stated on the drug label.
Animal identification and traceback — Currently, the private marketing system,
assisted by computerization of records, generally can trace the products back to their original
suppliers, although not necessarily all the way to the farm. It has been suggested that a type
of traceback program might be formalized to better monitor and contain outbreaks of
foodborne illness. USDA has called “animal identification” an important element of any
traceback system. Livestock producers already frequently identify their animals using backtags, ear tags, tatoos, and other devices, so that incorporating animal identification into a
traceback program might not be difficult. While few dispute the usefulness of animal
identification and traceback systems in general, whether they should be made regulatory
requirements, or remain voluntary, is a contentious issue.
Animal protein — Protein used in livestock feed that is derived from meatpacking or
rendering plants, surplus milk or milk products, and marine sources.
Animal unit — A standard measure, based on feed requirements, used to combine various
classes of livestock according to size, weight, age, and use. For federal lands, an animal unit
represents one mature cow, bull, steer, heifer, horse, mule, or five sheep, or five goats, all over
six months of age. An animal unit month (AUM) is the amount of forage needed to sustain
one animal unit, or its equivalent, for one month. Grazing fees for federal lands are charged
by animal unit months or head-months.
Animal Welfare Act — P.L. 89-544 (August 24, 1966) was enacted to curb the theft and
mistreatment of dogs and cats for experimental and research purposes. The principal federal
animal protection law, it has been amended several times to address specific concerns such
as the shipping of pets on public transportation, dog fighting, and using other warm-blooded
animals in biomedical experiments. Although administered by USDA’s Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service, the law has always excluded farm animals from its coverage.
Generally, USDA is authorized to “promulgate standards to govern the humane handling,
care, treatment, and practices in experimental procedures to ensure that animal pain and
distress are minimized...” The law excludes from the definition of animal “...horses not used
for research purposes and other farm animals, such as, but not limited to livestock or poultry,
used or intended for use as food or fiber, or livestock or poultry used or intended for use for
improving animal nutrition, breeding, management, or production efficiency, or for improving
the quality of food or fiber.” Animal welfare has become more controversial in recent years
as certain animal protection groups have argued for more extensive legal protections for
animals. Some groups believe that any human uses of animals are inhumane, unethical and/or
immoral, and should be prohibited. Among those who accept the premise that humans should
and will use animals for food and other necessities, the debate over the meaning of animal
welfare revolves around the most appropriate methods for taking care of animals, including
farm animals. For example, legislation has been proposed (but not enacted) in recent years
that would intervene in animal production operations by regulating confinement facilities;
determining the diets of veal calves; specifying how poultry must be slaughtered; and
prohibiting dealers from handling nonambulatory (downer) livestock unless they are
ANPR — Advance notice of proposed rulemaking
Antemortem — Before slaughter. As used in the meat and poultry inspection program, the
term refers to the examination that USDA meat inspectors are required to conduct of all live
animals just before they are killed.
Antidumping duty — A duty or levy imposed under authority of Title VII of the U.S.
Tariff Act of 1930. Title VII states that if the U.S. Department of Commerce determines
that an imported product is being sold at less than its fair value, and if the U.S.
International Trade Commission determines that a U.S. producer is thereby being
injured, the Commerce Department shall apply antidumping duties equivalent to the
APA — Administrative Procedure Act
APEC — Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum
APHA — American Public Health Association
APHIS — Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Appraised stumpage price (or appraised rate) — On national forests, the Forest
Service estimate of the market price for timber to be cut and removed. It cannot be less than
the base rates. The appraised price is the advertised minimum for competitive bidding by
APWA — American Public Welfare Association
AQI — Agricultural Quarantine Inspection
Aquaculture — The National Aquaculture Act of 1980 defines aquaculture as “the
propagation and rearing of aquatic species in controlled or selected environments, including
ocean ranching.” The Act divides responsibility for most aquaculture research, regulatory and
related activities among the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Interior. Private
aquaculture has grown rapidly and diversified in recent years; in the United States,
aquaculture is dominated (80%) by catfish production.
Aquifer — An underground geological formation, or group of formations, containing usable
amounts of groundwater that can supply wells or springs for domestic, industrial, and
irrigation uses. Removing more groundwater from an aquifer than is naturally replenished
is called overdrafting, and can result in a dropping water table, increased pumping costs, land
subsidence (which reduces the future recharge capacity), saltwater intrusion, reduced
streamflows in interconnected ground- and surface-water systems, and exhaustion of
groundwater reserves. Overdrafting groundwater occurs primarily in the Plains States and
Area yield options contract — A contract entitling the holder to receive a payment when
the area yield is below (above) the put (call) option strike yield. The strike yield is the yield
at which the holder of an option contract can exercise the option.
ARI — Aquifer risk index
Arid — A relatively dry climate in which annual precipitation is less than 10 inches, which
generally is insufficient for crops to be grown without irrigation. Such areas usually are the
focus of debate over federal water policies.
ARP — Acreage reduction program
ARS — Agricultural Research Service
ASA — American Society of Agronomy; American Soybean Association; American Sugar
ASAE — American Society of Agricultural Engineers
ASEAN — Association of Southeast Asian Nations
ASFSA — American School Food Service Association
ASIA — American Sheep Industry Association
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum — Established in 1989, APEC
is a formal institution with a permanent secretariat located in Singapore. Its original 12
members include Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea,
Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Brunei. In 1991, APEC
admitted China, Taiwan (admitted as Chinese Taipai), and Hong Kong. Mexico and Papua
New Guinea joined in 1993 and Chile was admitted in 1994. APEC provides a forum for
ministerial level discussion and cooperation on a range of economic issues including trade,
investment, technology transfer, and transportation.
ASQ — Allowable sale quantity
Assessment — Generally an automatic or mandatory deduction from a producer’s marketing
receipts used to fund activities that promote or otherwise support a particular farm product.
Under certain agricultural marketing orders or commodity promotion programs,
assessments may be applied against receipts to help pay for generic advertising or research.
The term check-off is often used interchangeably with assessment. Federal deficit reduction
marketing assessments have also been connected to certain commodity price support
programs (dairy, peanuts, sugar, tobacco, and soybeans) to help reduce the federal budget
deficit, which arguably is higher because of the programs.
Assimilative capacity — The ability of a body of water to cleanse itself; its capacity to
receive wastewaters or toxic materials without deleterious effects and without damage to
aquatic life or humans who consume the water.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — A multilateral organization
formed in 1967 by the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and
Thailand to promote economic, social, and cultural cooperation among nations in the
Southeast Asian region. Brunei joined later.
ASTA — American Seed Trade Association
ATO — Agricultural Trade Office
Atrazine — A selective herbicide, widely used on corn. It is environmentally significant,
since it was the second most commonly detected pesticide residue in an EPA survey of
drinking water wells conducted during 1988-1990. Due to concerns about groundwater
contamination and worker exposure, EPA is conducting a special review of atrazine
Attainment area — An area considered to have air quality as good as or better than the
National Ambient Air Quality Standards as defined in the Clean Air Act. An area
may be an attainment area for one pollutant and a non-attainment area for others.
Attractant — A chemical or agent that lures insects or other pests by stimulating their sense
of smell. Attractants are a nontoxic technique for luring insects into traps and are heavily
used in orchard crops. Though distinct from toxic baits, attractants are regulated as
AU — Animal unit
Australian Wheat Board (AWB) — A statutory marketing authority, which handles
Australia's domestic marketing of wheat and export marketings of wheat and flour. Under the
Australian system, farmers take their wheat to elevators designated as official handling agents
for the AWB. Following delivery, farmers receive an initial payment, then over a period of
time (which can be over a year) they receive additional payments until the full price has been
AVMA — American Veterinary Medical Association
AWA — Animal Welfare Act
AWB — Australian Wheat Board
AWP — Adjusted world price
AWT — Advanced wastewater treatment
B&I — Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program
BACT — Best available control technology
Balance of payments — An accounting statement measuring the value of goods, services
and capital exchanged between a country and all foreign countries. A nation is said to have
either: (1) a balance of payments deficit if it sends abroad less in goods, services, and capital
than it receives from foreigners; or (2) a balance of payments surplus if it sends abroad more
in goods, services, and capital than it receives.
Balance of trade — The difference in value between a country’s merchandise imports and
exports in a specified period. A country’s balance of trade is only one factor — though an
important one — in its balance of payments.
Band application — The spreading of chemicals over, or next to, each row of plants in a
field, as opposed to broadcast application.
Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937 — P.L. 75-210 authorized acquisition by
the federal government of damaged lands to rehabilitate and use them for various purposes.
Some Bankhead-Jones land are managed by both the Forest Service and the Bureau of
Land Management. Some Forest Service Bankhead Jones lands are National
Banks for Cooperatives (BC) — Lending institutions within the Farm Credit System
that provide credit to agricultural cooperatives and rural utility cooperatives nationwide.
Currently, there are two BCs with national charters — the St. Paul Bank for Cooperatives and
CoBank Agricultural Bank (Denver). CoBank also has the authority to finance U.S.
agricultural exports and to provide international banking services to farmer-owned
Bargaining association — A farmer cooperative intended primarily to influence farm
prices or other terms of trade between the members and the buyers of the commodities they
Barter — A form of countertrade in which goods having offsetting values are exchanged
under a single contract, within a specified period of time, and without any flow of money
taking place. The U.S. government ran a barter program from 1950 to 1973, exchanging
surplus agricultural commodities for strategic materials and for goods and services it
otherwise would have purchased. In addition, barter agreements between the United States
and Jamaica were signed in 1982 and 1983.
Base (or contract) acreage — A farm’s crop-specific acreage of wheat, feed grains,
upland cotton, or rice eligible to enroll in commodity programs under previous legislation,
and subsequently eligible for production flexibility contracts under the FAIR Act of
1996. Base acreage equaled land planted for harvest to the crop, plus any land enrolled in
Acreage Reduction Programs, plus land considered planted to the crop in zero,
50/85-92 or under permitted normal flex or optional flex acreage during a specified period
of time. A farmer’s crop acreage base was reduced by the portion of land placed in the
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), but increased by CRP base acreage leaving the
Base period price — The average price for an item in a specified time period used as a base
for an index — such as 1910-14, 1957-59, 1967, 1977, or 1982. Time series of data are
often deflated to a base period price. Such deflated time series are referred to as constant
dollar values (versus nominal dollar values).
Base property — For the Bureau of Land Management: land or water resources,
owned or controlled by a holder of a grazing permit or lease, that are suitable to support
livestock for a part of the year. For the Forest Service: lands and improvements owned and
used by a permittee for a farm or ranch and designated by the permittee to qualify for a
grazing permit. One must own or control base property to be eligible for permits or leases
to graze private livestock on federal lands.
Base rates — The minimum cash price for national forest timber to be cut and removed.
Basic commodities — Six agricultural crops (corn, cotton, peanuts, rice, tobacco, and
wheat) declared by permanent law as requiring federal price support.
Basic formula price (BFP) — Calculated monthly by USDA, the BFP is the base price
for all milk regulated by federal milk marketing orders. Currently, the BFP is based on
the preceding month’s average price of Grade B milk paid by processors in Minnesota and
Wisconsin, adjusted by current-month changes in the value of certain manufactured dairy
Basing point — A geographical site used to establish fixed rates and/or prices for federal
milk marketing orders. Generally, rates or prices increase according to the distance from
the basing point. The FAIR Act of 1996 authorizes USDA to consider the use of multiple
basing points for pricing milk under federal milk orders.
Basis — The difference between the current spot price (or cash price) of a commodity and
the price of the nearest futures contract for the same or a related commodity. Basis is
usually computed in relation to the futures contract next to expire and may reflect different
time periods, product forms, qualities, or locations.
Basis risk — The possibility of unexpected variation in basis and a resulting loss of expected
revenue when a futures contract is liquidated and the commodity sold on the cash market.
BAT — Best available technology
bbf — Billion board feet
BC — Banks for Cooperatives
BCS — Basic conservation systems
BCT — Best control technology
Beef (cattle) price index (BPI) — An index of the weighted average annual price for beef
cattle, excluding calves, for an 11 western state area as compared with a specific base period
equal to 100. This index is used in calculating federal grazing fees.
Below-cost timber sale — A timber sale from national forest lands in which the expected
federal revenues are less than the estimated federal expenses to sell the timber.
Best management practices (BMP) — A conservation practice or combination of
practices designed to maintain agricultural productivity while reducing point- and
nonpoint- source water pollution. State water quality agencies (or their designees)
determine BMPs to fit local conditions and to make the most efficient use of natural resources
and purchased inputs.
BFP — Basic formula price
BFW — Bread for the World
BGH — Bovine growth hormone (See bovine somatotropin.)
Bilateral trade agreement — A trade agreement between any two countries. The
agreement may be either preferential (the obligations and benefits apply only to the two
countries involved) or most-favored-nation (the benefits and obligations negotiated
between the two countries are extended to all or most other nations). The U.S.-Israel Free
Trade Agreement is one example.
Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996 — P.L. 104-210 (October 1, 1996) was
named in honor of the late Congressman who was a champion of efforts to expand food
donations to the poor and protect those who make donations. It converts the Model Good
Samaritan Food Donation Act to permanent law and incorporates it into the Child
Nutrition Act of 1966 (section 22). Good samaritan laws are designed to encourage the
donation of food and groceries to nonprofit charitable agencies by minimizing the risks of
legal actions against donors and distributors of foods. The 1996 amendments exclude from
civil or criminal liability a person or nonprofit food organization that, in good faith, donates
or distributes donated foods for food relief. The new law does not supersede state or local
health regulations and its protections do not apply to an injury or death due to gross neglect
or intentional misconduct.
Bioaccumulation — The absorption and storage of toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and
certain pesticides in plants and animals. For example, lead that is ingested by calves can
bioaccumulate in their bones, interfering with calcium absorption and bone development.
Stored chemicals may be released to the blood stream at a later time, for example, during
gestation or weight loss. Bioconcentration is a synonym for biaccumulation.
Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) — A measure of the amount of oxygen consumed
in 5 days due to natural, biological processes that break down organic matter, such as those
that take place when manure or sawdust is put in water. High levels of oxygen-demanding
wastes in waters deplete dissolved oxygen (DO), thereby endangering aquatic life.
Sometimes referred to as "biological oxygen demand. Chemical oxygen demand (COD) is a
measure of the oxygen consumed when organic matter is broken down chemically rather than
naturally. COD can be determined much more quickly than BOD and more accurately reflects
the amount of organic matter in a water sample.
Biodiversity (or biological diversity) — In general, the variety and variation among
plants, animals, and microorganisms, and among their ecosystems. It has 3 levels: ecosystem
diversity, species diversity, and genetic (within species) diversity. The concept of
maintaining biodiversity holds that civilization should preserve the greatest possible number
of existing species so that a highly diverse genetic pool, which can be tapped for useful and
beneficial characteristics, will be available into the future. Genetic diversity provides
resources for genetic resistance to pests and diseases. In agriculture, biodiversity is a
production system characterized by the presence of multiple plant and/or animal species, as
contrasted with the genetic specialization of monoculture.
Biological control — The practice of using beneficial natural organisms to attack and
control harmful plant and animal pests and weeds is called biological control, or biocontrol.
This can include introducing predators, parasites, and disease organisms, or releasing
sterilized individuals. Biocontrol methods may be an alternative or complement to chemical
pest control methods. Biocontrol is part of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service program to control several economically important pests of food and fiber crops; it
also is researched and used by other USDA agencies that promote integrated pest
Biological oxygen demand — See biochemical oxygen demand.
Biologics — Immunization vaccines, bactrians, antigens, and antitoxins and other
preparations made from living organisms and their products, intended for use in diagnosing,
immunizing, or treating humans or animals, or in related research. The Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service has responsibility for approving some animal biologics.
Biomagnification (or biological magnification) — The increase in the concentration
of bioaccumulated toxic chemicals in organisms higher on the food chain due to preferential
storage of the toxic chemical in edible body parts. For example, chlorinated pesticides
concentrate in the fat and skin of fish in contaminated lakes and streams and are biomagnified
when those fish are eaten by larger fish, and perhaps eventually by mammals or birds of prey.
Biomass — The generic term for any living matter that can be converted into usable energy
through biological or chemical processes. It encompasses feedstocks such as agricultural
crops and their residues, animal wastes, wood, wood residues and grasses, and municipal
Biopesticide — A pesticide that is biological in origin in contrast to synthetic chemicals
(i.e., viruses, bacteria, pheromones, natural plant compounds).
Biotechnology — The use of micro-organisms, live plant or animal cells or their parts, to
create new products or to carry out biological processes aimed at genetic improvement. See
Blair House Agreement — The November 1992 agreement between the United States and
the European Union on export subsidy and domestic subsidy reduction commitments in the
Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. The agreement also dealt with some
bilateral agricultural trade issues.
Blend price — Primarily used in the federal milk marketing order program. Represents
the weighted average price of milk, per hundred pounds, paid to each farmer based on how
Grade A (fluid grade) milk is allocated to different usage classes (e.g., fluid, manufacturing)
Blended credit — A federal export promotion program operated from 1983 to 1985 by the
Foreign Agricultural Service of USDA. Federally guaranteed commercial loans at market
interest rates (GSM-102) were combined (blended) with direct export credit from the
government at zero interest. This subsidized credit was made available to selected countries
for a limited number of agricultural commodities. The program was terminated in 1985 when
a federal judge determined that commodities shipped under blended credit were subject to
cargo preference laws, which would have required that 50% of blended credit exports be
shipped on higher-cost U.S. flag vessels.
Blending — In grain marketing, the combining of two different qualities of grain in order
to change the total value of both lots. For example, it is common to blend grains of differing
moisture or different foreign material content to achieve the requirements of a contract order.
BLM — Bureau of Land Management
BLS — Bureau of Labor Statistics
Blue box — Direct payments, under the definition of “production-limiting” measures as
defined in Article 6 of the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, that are not subject
to the commitment to reduce domestic support. To qualify for the exemption, payments must
be based on fixed areas or yields, on a fixed number of livestock, or on 85% or less of the
base level of production. See green box.
BMP — Best management practice(s)
Board foot — A measure for lumber, equal to a 1-inch thick board that is 1 foot long and
1 foot wide in nominal dimensions (a 2x4, for example, is less than 2 inches thick and 4 inches
wide, but a 1-foot long 2x4 is still counted as 2/3 of a board foot); typically reported in
thousands of board feet (mbf). Also used to estimate the volume of lumber that can be
produced from logs and standing trees.
BOD — Biochemical oxygen demand; biological oxygen demand
Boll weevil — An insect pest of cotton that is the subject of an Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service eradication program cooperatively funded and managed by cotton
Bonus commodities — From the agricultural perspective, these are commodities donated
to domestic feeding programs that USDA acquires for unexpected surplus removal reasons
or because Commodity Credit Corporation holdings are not needed for other purposes,
or are in danger of waste or spoilage. For example, if meat prices fall, USDA may buy beef
and donate it to the National School Lunch Program, or if the CCC is holding an excess
of cornmeal that is in danger of spoiling, it might donate this to the lunch program. From the
food program perspective, these commodities are those donated in addition to the commodities
that must be provided under mandatory requirements in food program statutes.
BOR — Bureau of Reclamation
Botanical pesticide — A pesticide whose active ingredient is a plant-produced chemical
such as nicotine or strychnine. Also called a plant-derived pesticide. Being “natural”
pesticides, as distinct from synthetic ones, they are typically acceptable to organic farmers.
Bottom — Usually synonymous with “vessel” or “ship.” A ship of American registry may
be referred to as a “U.S. bottom,” whereas if registry is other than U.S., the ship, in U.S.
usage, may be called a “foreign bottom.”
Bound tariff rate — The most-favored-nation tariff rate resulting from negotiations
under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and incorporated as an
integral component of a country’s schedule of concessions. If a GATT contracting party
raises a tariff to a higher level than its bound rate, the country or countries adversely affected
have the right under GATT to retaliate against an equivalent value of the offending country’s
exports or to receive compensation, usually in the form of reduced tariffs on other products
they export to the offending country.
Bovine growth hormone(BGH) — See bovine somatotropin (bST).
Bovine somatotropin (bST) — Also called bovine growth hormone, bST is a naturally
occurring protein that has been genetically engineered as a synthetic compound (now
manufactured in large quantities and commercially available to farmers) that causes cows to
increase the efficiency of milk production per unit of feed consumed. Its use has caused
public controversy, and some states require retail dairy product labels to identify the use of
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) — Commonly known as “mad cow
disease,” BSE is a slowly progressive, incurable disease affecting the central nervous system
of cattle, first diagnosed in Britain in 1986. Consumption by cattle of BSE-contaminated
ruminant proteins has been cited as one possible means of transmission. Scientists have
suggested that there might be a link between BSE in cattle and more than a dozen recent
European cases of a human variant of the disease, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. To date,
no BSE has been found in U.S. cattle or beef supplies, although other BSE-like animal
diseases are found in the United States, including scrapie in sheep and goats.
Bovine tuberculosis — A highly contagious disease of cattle that causes severe economic
losses, especially in dairy herds. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
quarantines infected herds and works with producers to eradicate the disease. The target date
for total eradication has been pushed back from 1998 to after the year 2000.
Boxed beef — Beef that a packer cuts into relatively small pieces, seals in vacuum packs,
and ships in cardboard boxes, often ready for retail sale. Prior to the 1970s, most beef left
the packer as partial carcasses.
BPI — Beef (Cattle) Price Index
BPJ — Best professional judgment
BPT — Best practicable technology, best practicable treatment
Breastfeeding promotion — Relates to activities required to be carried out by state and
local agencies using federal funds provided for nutrition education and administrative services
under the WIC program. States are required to use a portion of funds they receive to
promote breastfeeding by postpartum mothers participating in the program.
Broadcast application — The spreading of pesticides or fertilizers over an entire area (see
Broiler — A young chicken, usually 6 to 8 weeks old and 3 to 5 pounds, raised primarily for
Brucellosis — A highly contagious disease of cattle, goats, sheep, and swine that can be
transmitted to humans (undulant fever). The Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service conducts an eradication program that is expected to eliminate brucellosis from the
U.S. cattle herds by the end of 1998 at the current funding level.
BSE — Bovine spongiform encephalopathy
bST — Bovine somatotropin
Bt — Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacterium commonly known as Bt. It is a biological
pesticide (biopesticide) used in several genetically engineered plants (transgenic plants).
The plants have a gene from Bt inserted into their own genetic material. This new gene
produces a natural protein that kills insects after the protein is ingested. The toxins are
specific to a small subset of insects. Cotton has been genetically altered to control the tobacco
budworm, bollworm and pink bollworm. Potatoes have been altered to control the Colorado
potato beetle. A new hybrid of corn, which will be resistant to the European corn borer, is
available for the 1997 planting season. Bt degrades rapidly to non-toxic compounds, does not
present any human or animal hazards, and does not harm beneficial insects. Pest resistance
management (PRM) plans are required by EPA as part of the registration.
bu. — bushel
Buffer strips — Small areas of erosion-resistant vegetation planted on fields, usually along
the contour or along the boundaries, to slow the flow of runoff and reduce erosion.
Bulgur — Wheat that has been parboiled, dried, and partially debranned for later use in
cracked or whole grain form.
Bulk carrier — Refers to two types of cargo ships: the dry-bulk carrier and the liquid-bulk
carrier, better known as a tanker. Bulk cargo is a shipment such as oil, grain, or ore, that is
not packaged, baled, bottled, or otherwise packed and is loaded without counting or marking.
Bulk commodities — Generally, high volume, low value unprocessed agricultural
commodities, which are treated as though they are homogeneous (fungible) in nature prior
to processing. Grains, oilseeds, and cotton are considered bulk commodities. Contrasting
categories are high value commodities, semiprocessed and processed commodities, and
consumer ready commodities.
Bureau of Land Management — A bureau within the Department of the Interior that has
exclusive jurisdiction over about 268 million acres of federally owned lands. Approximately
one-third of this area is in Alaska. The majority of the remaining acreage is in the Western
Bureau of Reclamation — A bureau within the Department of the Interior, whose mission
is to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources. The agency replaced the
Reclamation Service, which was established pursuant to the Reclamation Act of 1902.
The Bureau built, operates, and maintains more than 300 storage dams on rivers throughout
the western United States. http://www.usbr.gov/
Burley tobacco — The main type of air-cured tobacco; a cigarette tobacco that together
with flue-cured tobacco account for more than 90% of total U.S. production. Burley tobacco
production is limited by national marketing quotas and eligible for nonrecourse price
support loans. Its production centers in Kentucky.
Bushel — A dry volume measure of varying weight for grain, fruit, etc., equal to four pecks
or eight gallons (2150.42 cubic inches). A bushel of wheat, soybeans, and white potatoes
each weighs 60 pounds. A bushel of corn, rye, grain sorghum, and flaxseed each weighs 56
pounds. A bushel of barley, buckwheat, and apples each weighs 48 pounds.
Business incubator — A facility that supports the development and operation of a number
of small start-up businesses. Tenants of the facility share a number of support services
including computers, support staff, telecommunications equipment, and janitorial services.
Occupants also may receive technical assistance, business planning, legal, financial, and
By-pass flow — Water required by a regulating or permitting entity to be retained in-stream
to protect fish habitat and other water-based functions and values. For example, the Forest
Service requires some operators to allow a certain amount of water to bypass their dams to
preserve endangered fish habitat. The FAIR Act of 1996 contains a provision (Section 389)
that prohibits the Forest Service from placing limits on bypass flow across lands it manages
as a condition when renewing permits while a task force studies five specified questions.
CAA — Clean Air Act
CACFP — Child and Adult Care Food Program
CAFO — Concentrated animal feeding operation
Call option — A contract that entitles the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to purchase
an underlying futures contract at a stipulated basis or strike price at any time up to the
expiration of the option. The buyer pays a premium to the seller for this contract. A call
option is bought with the expectation of a rise in prices. See also put option.
Campylobacteriosis — A diarrheal disease often caused by the type of bacteria known as
Campylobacteria jejuni (C. jejuni) associated with poultry, raw milk, and water. There are
an estimated 2.5 million cases annually in the United States with 200 to 730 deaths.
Campylobacteriosis has been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome (a disease which paralyzes
limbs and breathing muscles) as well as Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus, and other viruses.
USDA has estimated that this disease costs the United States between $1.2 to $1.4 billion
annually in medical costs, productivity losses, and residential care.
Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) — A quasi-governmental self-financed agency,
established in 1935, that markets Canadian wheat, oats, and barley on behalf of producers.
Commercial grain is put into annual marketing pools by grade, with the pool period lasting
12 months and ending July 31. The CWB markets the grain to domestic and foreign buyers,
with unsold grain transferred to the pool established for the next year. The overall procedure
ensures a uniform per-bushel return, excluding storage costs, to all producers for each grade,
regardless of the time they deliver their grain to elevators. The flow of grain from farm to
terminal is closely regulated. The CWB also works to develop new markets for Canadian
wheat and has authority to enter into long-term supply contracts with foreign countries.
Cancellation — Refers to an action taken under Section 6(b) of the Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to cancel a pesticide registration for one or
more specific uses when EPA finds the use results in unreasonable adverse effects to the
environment or public health when a product is used according to widespread and commonly
recognized practice, or if its labeling or other material required to be submitted does not
comply with FIFRA provisions.
CAP — Common Agricultural Policy; Commodity Assistance Program
Capper-Volstead Act — P.L. 67-146 (February 18, 1922), with a bit of exaggeration, is
sometimes called the Magna Carta of Cooperation. The law was passed in response to
challenges made against cooperatives using the Sherman Antitrust Act, the Clayton
Antitrust Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act. It gave “associations” of
persons producing agricultural products certain exemptions from antitrust laws. The law
carries the names of its sponsors, Senator Arthur Capper of Kansas and Congressman Andrew
Volstead of Minnesota.
Captive supply — Products that manufacturers or processors own or contract to purchase
for future delivery so as to have a predictable source of raw materials for their plants. In
agriculture, the term often is used, for example, to refer to the cattle that beef packers own or
contract to purchase 2 weeks or more before slaughter. Examples of such contracts include
an exclusive agreement with an individual feedlot in which the price is based on market prices
at time of slaughter; or a contract in which the price is specified in advance or is based on
some other formula. At issue is the effect that captive supplies have on prices paid to cattle
Carcass weight — The weight of an animal after slaughter and removal of most internal
organs, head, and skin. On average, a beef carcass is about 60% of the weight of the live
animal, for hogs it is about 73%.
Carcass-by-carcass inspection — Usually refers to language in the federal Meat
Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act, respectively, that requires
the Food Safety Inspection Service to inspect the carcass of each animal killed for human
food, immediately after slaughter.
Carcinogen — Any substance that produces or promotes cancer.
This is a key
consideration in evaluating the safety of pesticides and other chemicals.
CARD — Center for Agricultural and Rural Development
Cargo preference — The Cargo Preference Act (P.L. 83-664) requires that whenever
the federal government pays for equipment, material, or commodities shipped to other
countries, a minimum percentage of the gross tonnage shipped by sea must go by U.S. flag
vessels. Cargo preference requirements have been an issue in U.S. international food aid and
export subsidy programs.
Cargo Preference Act — P.L. 83-644, as amended, contains permanent legislation
concerning the transportation of waterborne cargoes in U.S.-flag vessels. The Act requires
that 75% of the volume of U.S. agricultural commodities financed under P.L. 480 and other
concessional financing arrangements be shipped on privately owned U.S.-registered vessels.
Maritime interests generally support cargo preference, but proponents of P.L. 480 argue that
it increases the costs of shipping U.S. commodities to poor countries and potentially reduces
the volume of food aid that is provided.
Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act of 1983 (CBERA) — P.L. 98-67 (August
5, 1983), Title II, authorized unilateral preferential trade and tax benefits for eligible
Caribbean countries, including duty-free treatment of eligible products. This law is commonly
referred to as the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). Amended several times, the last
substantive revisions were made in the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery
Expansion Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-382, Title II, August 20, 1990). This made trade
benefits permanent (repealing the September 30, 1995 termination date).
Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) — A permanent program designed to increase private
investment, trade, and tourism in Caribbean countries, initially created by the Caribbean
Basin Economic Recovery Act of 1983 and amended several times. It gives preferential
trade and tax benefits for eligible Caribbean countries, including duty-free entry of eligible
products. To be eligible, an article must be a “product” of (as defined in the U.S. general
rules of origin) a beneficiary country and imported directly from it, and at least 35% of its
import value must have originated in one or more CBERA beneficiaries. Slightly different
import value rules apply to articles entering from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The
duty-free import of sugar and beef products is subject to a special eligibility requirement that
a beneficiary country submit and carry out a stable food production plan ensuring that
increased production of sugar and beef will not adversely affect overall food production.
Preferential tariff treatment, though, does not extend to imports of: textiles and apparel subject
to textile agreements, specified footwear, canned tuna, petroleum and its products, and
watches and watch parts containing any material originating in countries denied mostfavored-nation trade status. Special criteria apply to the duty-free import of ethanol
through FY2000. Import-sensitive products, not accorded duty-free tariff treatment, are
eligible to enter at lower than most-favored-nation tariff rates. These products include
handbags, luggage, flat goods (such as wallets, change purses, and key and eyeglass cases),
work gloves, and certain leather wearing apparel.
Carrier —An inert liquid or solid material added to an active ingredient in a pesticide.
Carrying capacity — The maximum stocking rate for livestock possible without
damaging vegetation or related resources. Carrying capacity may vary from year to year on
the same area, due to fluctuating forage production. Used by the government in decisions
about how much livestock will be allowed on an allotment on public lands.
Carryover — The supply of a farm commodity not yet used at the end of a marketing
year and carried over into the next year. An excessively large carryover is typically described
as a surplus condition that causes prices to fall. When the carryover falls below normal, there
may be concerns of a shortage contributing to price escalation.
Cartel — An alliance or arrangement among industrial or commercial enterprises or nations
aimed at limiting competition or exercising monopoly power in a market.
Casein — The major portion of milk protein, manufactured from skim milk and used in
processed foods (such as dessert toppings and coffee whiteners) and in industrial products
such as glue, paint and plastics.
Cash commodity — The physical or actual commodity as distinguished from the futures
contract. Sometimes called spot commodity, or actuals.
Cash forward sale — See forward contracting.
Cash grain farm — A farm where corn, grain sorghum, small grains, soybeans, or field
peas and beans account for at least 50% of the value of farm products sold.
Cash in lieu of commodities — Refers to cash provided to food program operators (e.g.,
elderly nutrition programs, child care food programs, and some school food programs) in lieu
of mandated commodity assistance. Recipients may use the cash to buy whatever foods they
need to operate their meal service programs.
Cash market — The market for the cash commodity (as contrasted to a futures
contract), taking the form of — (1) an organized, self-regulated central market (e.g., a
commodity exchange); (2) a decentralized over-the-counter market; or (3) a local organization,
such as a grain elevator or meat processor, which provides a market for a small region.
Cash price — The price in the marketplace for actual cash or spot commodities to be
delivered via customary market channels.
Cash settlement — A method of settling certain futures contracts or option contracts
whereby the seller (or short position) pays the buyer (or long position) the cash value of the
commodity traded according to a procedure specified in the contract.
CAST — Council for Agricultural Science and Technology
CAT — Catastrophic crop insurance
Catastrophic (CAT) Crop Insurance — A component of the federal crop insurance
program, authorized by the Federal Crop Insurance Reform Act of 1994, that
compensates farmers for crop yield losses exceeding 50% of their average historical yield at
a payment rate of 60% of the projected season average market price. CAT coverage requires
that a farmer realize a yield loss of more than 50% and only makes payments on losses
exceeding the 50-percent threshold. Producers pay no premium for CAT coverage, but except
for cases of financial hardship must pay an administrative fee of $50 per crop, up to a
maximum of $200 per county and $600 in total (across all counties) for CAT protection.
Under the Federal Crop Insurance Reform Act of 1994 producers were required to
obtain coverage at the CAT (or higher) level for crops of economic significance (accounting
for 10% or more of their farm’s crop production value) in order to be eligible for various other
USDA program benefits. The FAIR Act of 1996 relaxed this requirement. A producer has
the ability to purchase additional insurance coverage beyond CAT coverage, but must pay a
premium, partially subsidized by the government, for that additional coverage.
Cattle cycle — The approximately 10-year period in which the number of U.S. beef cattle
is alternatively expanded and reduced over several consecutive years in response to perceived
changes in profitability by producers. Generally, low prices occur when cattle numbers (or
beef supplies) are high, precipitating several years of herd liquidation. As cattle numbers
decline, prices gradually begin to rise, causing cattle producers to begin adding cattle to their
herds. The cycle is relatively long due to the long period of time it takes between the time a
cow-calf operator decides to expand a cow herd to breed more beef cattle and the time those
animals reach slaughter weight.
CBI — Caribbean Basin Initiative
CBT — Chicago Board of Trade
CCC — Commodity Credit Corporation
CCI — Cotton Council International
CD — Conservation district
CDC — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CED — County Executive Director
Census of Agriculture — A comprehensive set of quantitative information on the
agricultural sector of the U.S. economy, broken down to the state and county levels (i.e.,
number of farms, land in farms, crop acreage and production, livestock numbers and
production, production expenses, farm facilities and equipment, farm tenure, value of farm
products sold, farm size, type of farm, among other data). The Census, conducted every 5
years and last published for 1992, was the responsibility of the Commerce Department’s
Bureau of the Census. However, the FY1997 USDA appropriations act transferred funding
for the Census of Agriculture to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service
(NASS), which intends to start data collection for the 1997 Census in January 1998.
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) — The agency within the
Food and Drug Administration responsible for regulating the food processing industry.
Legislation in this area normally is handled by the House Commerce Committee, except for
seafood, which is under the jurisdiction of the House Agriculture Committee.
Center pivot irrigation — A self-propelled irrigation system in which a single pipeline
supported on towers rotates around a central point. These systems are typically about onequarter mile long and serve 128 to 132 acre circular fields.
Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) — A term for the group of
countries including Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the
Slovak Republic, and the three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania).
CEQ — Council on Environmental Quality
Certificates (commodity) — Legal instruments, entitling a qualified bearer to a specific
dollar value of USDA surplus commodities. Payment-in-kind (PIK) “certs” either can
specify the types of commodities or be generic. Certificates were heavily used during the
1980s as a means of meeting financial obligations and simultaneously disposing of CCCowned commodities.
CFA — Consumer Federation of America
CFCs — Chlorofluorocarbons
CFO — Conservation farm option; Chief Financial Officer
CFR — Code of Federal Regulations
CFSCAN — Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
CFTC — Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Channelization — Engineering watercourses by straightening, widening, or deepening them
so water will move faster. While improving drainage, this process can interfere with waste
assimilation capacity, disturb fish and wildlife habitats, and aggravate flooding.
Check-off program — Usually, a reference to the generic research and commodity
promotion programs for farm products that are financed by assessments applied to sales
of those products by producers, importers, or others in the industry.
Chemigation — The application of a pesticide and/or fertilizer through any irrigation
system. This delivery technique raises some concern that it may cause increased pollution.
Chemosterilant — A chemical that controls pests by preventing reproduction, thereby
causing the population to collapse. This contrasts with chemicals that directly kill pests.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) — This child nutrition program
provides cash and commodity assistance to support meal service programs in child care
centers, headstart facilities, and family and group home day care homes for children, the
elderly, and disabled. It is permanently authorized under Section 17 of the National School
Lunch Act, administered by USDA, Food and Consumer Service, and funded annually by
Child Nutrition Act of 1966 — P.L. 89-642 (October 11, 1966) was an anti-hunger
initiative begun by the Johnson Administration as part of its “War on Poverty” and has been
amended numerous times since then. It permanently authorizes the special milk program
(which provides federal subsidies for milk served to children in eligible outlets) and the school
breakfast program (which provides federal subsidies for breakfasts served in participating
elementary and secondary schools). The special supplemental nutrition program for
women, infants, and children (WIC), which provides federal grant funds to states for
monthly food packages and nutrition education for low-income mothers and young children,
is authorized under this Act through FY1998, as is federal spending for state administrative
expenses (SAE) associated with the operation of child nutrition meal service programs. The
nutrition education and training (NET) program, which provides grants to states for
educating and training school food personnel, teachers, and students about nutrition, is
authorized through FY2002.
Child nutrition programs — A grouping of programs funded by the federal government
to support meal and milk service programs for children in schools, residential and day care
facilities, family and group day care homes, and summer day camps, and for low-income
pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children under age 5 in local WIC clinics.
Programs include school lunch, school breakfast, summer food service, special
milk, commodity distribution and nutrition education and training programs,
and the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children
(WIC). These programs are authorized under the National School Lunch Act and the
Child Nutrition Act of 1966; are financed by annual agricultural appropriations laws; and
are administered by the Food and Consumer Service of USDA. Changes to the authorizing
statutes generally are made by the Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry Committee in the
Senate. In the House, the Education and the Workforce Committee deals with most changes
to child nutrition program authorizing statutes, although the Agriculture Committee usually
is involved when proposed changes concern commodity distribution, food issues, and
requirements affecting agricultural interests and the farmers market nutrition program.
Chlorinated hydrocarbons — Also known as organochlorines, these synthetic organic
compounds contain chlorine. They tend to be persistent in the environment and to
biomagnify in the food chain. Chlorinated hydrocarbons that are pesticides include DDT,
aldrin, dieldrin, heptachlor, chlordane, lindane, endrin, mirex, hexachloride, and toxaphene.
Most chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticide uses have been canceled because of their persistence,
propensity to bioaccumulate, and toxicity to nontarget species.
Chlorophenoxy herbicides — A class of pesticides that includes 2,4-D. They mimic plant
hormones. Uses of some have been canceled because of concerns about adverse health effects.
Cholinesterase inhibitors — A class of chemicals that includes numerous insecticides,
such as parathion or carbaryl. They inhibit an enzyme found in animals that regulates nerve
impulses. Cholinesterase inhibition is associated with a variety of acute symptoms such as
nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, stomach cramps, and rapid heart rate.
Chronic toxicity — The capacity of a substance to cause long-term or delayed adverse
health effects. For example, a cancer resulting from exposure to a carcinogen may not appear
for years or decades.
C.I.F. (or c.i.f.) — Cost, insurance, and freight
CIPs — Commodity import programs
CIS — Commonwealth of Independent States
CJD — Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (See bovine spongiform encephalopathy.)
Class I differential — Under federal milk marketing orders, the minimum price a
processor must pay for milk used for fluid consumption (Class I milk) is the basic formula
price plus the Class I differential. The Class I differential varies by about $3.00 per
hundredweight (cwt.) between the Upper Midwest and Southeast Florida. The Class I
differential accounts for the costs of transporting milk, the added costs of marketing milk
going into fluid milk products, and the higher cost of producing Grade A milk required for
Class I equivalency — The amount of less productive land in a water district receiving
Bureau of Reclamation water (Classes 2, 3, and 4) that would be necessary to be equivalent
in productive potential to Class I land. This equivalency rating is made to adjust the number
of acres that may be irrigated (see acreage limitation) so that less productive lands are
equivalent in productive potential to 960 acres of Class I land.
Class I land — Under reclamation law, Class I land is defined as irrigable land within
a particular agricultural economic setting that is productive enough to yield the highest level
of suitability for continuous, successful irrigation farming, and has the highest relative
productive potential as measured in net income per acre.
Classified pricing — The pricing system of federal milk marketing orders, under which
milk processors pay into a pool for fluid grade (Grade A) milk; its value is based on how the
milk ultimately is used. Milk used for fluid (Class I) consumption receives a higher price than
milk for processed (Class II, Class III, Class IIIa) dairy products.
Clean Air Act — The primary federal law governing efforts to control air pollution.
Federal legislation addressing air pollution was first adopted in 1955 (Air Pollution
Control Act, P.L. 84-159) research and technical assistance. Subsequent amendments, most
notably the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970 (P.L. 91-604), 1977 (P.L. 95-95), and
1990 (P.L. 101-549), strengthened the federal role. The Clean Air Act seeks to protect
human health and the environment from emissions that pollute the air. EPA is required to
establish minimum National Standards Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS),
while states are assigned primary responsibility for developing compliance. Areas not meeting
the standards (nonattainment areas) are required to implement specific control measures.
There is no direct federal regulation of agriculture under the Clean Air Act. Two of the
NAAQS (for particulates and ozone) could affect agriculture: particulates, because certain
agricultural practices, such as prescribed burning and tilling, create airborne particles that
might be targeted for control in State Implementation Plans; and ozone, because
concentrations of ozone above the standard can adversely affect crop yields. Ozone is formed
in the atmosphere when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (from
manufacturing, transportation, and utilities) react in the presence of sunlight (agriculture
rarely if ever represents significant sources of ozone precussors).
Clean Water Act — This is the principal law governing pollution of the nation’s rivers,
lakes, estuaries, and coastal waters. Originally enacted in 1948 as the Federal Water
Pollution Control Act (P.L. 80-845), it was totally revised by amendments in 1972 that
gave the Act its current name and shape (P.L. 92-500). The objective of the Act is the
restoration and maintenance of the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s
waters. The Act is implemented by the EPA in partnership with state and local governments.
Programs in the Act have been primarily directed at managing point source pollution
(wastes discharged from industrial facilities, sewage treatment plants, and municipal storm
sewer systems). Agricultural activities have been less of a focus, but some may be affected
by the Clean Water Act. Large confined animal feeding operations are treated like
industrial sources and are subject to permit requirements. Programs to manage nonpoint
source pollution (rainfall runoff from farms, rangelands, forests, etc.) may affect
agriculture. A program in the Act that regulates discharges of dredged and fill material into
wetlands (Section 404) requires permits for activities on agricultural wetlands.
CLOC — Commodity letters of credit
CMA — Chemical Manufacturers Association
CME — Chicago Mercantile Exchange
CMS — Conservation management system
CNP — Child nutrition programs
CNPP — Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
CO — Conservation operations
COAP — Cottonseed Oil Assistance Program
Coastal Zone Management Program — P.L. 92-583 (October 27, 1972) created the
Coastal Zone Management Program in 1972 to provide grants to eligible states and territories
as an incentive to prepare and implement plans guiding the use of coastal lands and resources.
Amendments in 1990 require participants to develop nonpoint pollution programs. These
programs must specify and implement management measures to restore and protect coastal
waters. For agriculture, management measures are specified for erosion, sediments,
nutrients, pesticides, grazing, and animal waste. Participants must implement these
management measures after they have been approved by whatever means necessary, including
regulation. Federal approval of state proposals is pending.
CoBank — National Bank for Cooperatives
COC — County Office Committee
COD — Chemical oxygen demand
Codex Alimentarius Commission — A joint commission of the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization, comprised of some 146 member
countries, created in 1962 to ensure consumer food safety, establish fair practices in food
trade, and promote the development of international food standards. The Commission drafts
nonbinding standards for food additives, veterinary drugs, pesticide residues, and other
substances that affect consumer food safety. It publishes these standards in a listing called
the “Codex Alimentarius.”
Coliform index — A rating of the purity of water based on a count of fecal coliform
bacteria. The presence of fecal coliform bacteria, which are harmless bacteria that live in the
intestines of humans and other vertebrate animals, indicates contamination by human or
animal feces, and hence the potential presence of disease pathogens.
Colonia — A substandard housing area defined in the Housing Act of 1949 as any
identifiable community that: (1) is in the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, or Texas;
(2) is in an area that is within 150 miles of the border between the United States and Mexico
(except for standard metropolitan statistical areas that have a population exceeding 1 million);
(3) is designated by the state or county as a colonia; and (4) is determined to be a colonia
based on criteria such as lack of potable water supply, lack of adequate sewage systems, and
lack of decent, safe, and sanitary housing.
Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act — P.L. 93-320 (June 24, 1974), and the
laws authorizing three other conservation cost-sharing programs, were repealed in the FAIR
Act of 1996 and replaced by a new cost-sharing program, the Environmental Quality
Incentives Program (EQIP). Until it was replaced, the Colorado River Basin Salinity
Control Program provided cost-sharing assistance to producers to install on-farm irrigation
system improvements to prevent irrigation water heavily charged with salts and minerals from
reentering the river. Participating farmers received up to 70% of total project costs and
technical assistance. Participation was concentrated at sites where problems existed. This
program was available to producers in the seven states of the Colorado River watershed.
The law was administered by the Farm Service Agency until FY1996, when administration
was transferred to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program — This program was authorized in
the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act and was repealed and replaced by the
Environmental Quality Incentives Program in the FAIR Act of 1996. Administered
by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, it is used to implement salinity control
measures, primarily to manage irrigation water using financial and technical assistance to
landowners. This program supports U.S. efforts to meet international treaty obligations for
downstream water quality in Mexico.
Combine — A self-propelled grain harvester. In one operation it combines cutting,
threshing, separation, cleaning, and straw dispersal.
Commission on 21st Century Production Agriculture — Established by Title I of the
FAIR Act of 1996 to conduct a comprehensive review of changes to production agriculture
in the United States. The Commission also will study the future of production agriculture in
the United States and the appropriate role of the federal government in it.
Commodity Assistance Program — A title often used to refer to a variety of domestic
programs receiving food in the form of USDA supplied commodities. It was formalized in
FY1996 appropriations law for the first time to refer to the consolidation for funding purposes
of three commodity donation programs that are authorized under two separate statutes: The
Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP), soup kitchen-food bank program,
and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
Commodity certificates — Payments issued by the Commodity Credit Corporation
(CCC) in lieu of cash payments to participants in farm subsidy or agricultural export
programs. Holders of certificates are permitted to exchange them for commodities owned
by the CCC. Certificates were used not only to compensate program beneficiaries but also
to reduce the large, costly, and price-depressing commodity surpluses held by the CCC during
the mid 1980s.
Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) — A wholly owned government corporation
created in 1933 to stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices (federally chartered
by the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act of 1948 (P.L. 80-806, June 29, 1948)).
The CCC, which has no staff, is essentially a financing institution for USDA’s farm price and
income support commodity programs, and agricultural export subsidies. It is
authorized to buy, sell, lend, make payments and engage in other activities for the purpose of
increasing production, stabilizing prices, assuring adequate supplies, and facilitating the
efficient marketing of agricultural commodities. The FAIR Act of 1996 expanded the CCC
mandate to include funding for several conservation programs (including the Conservation
Reserve Program) and made conservation one of the purposes of the CCC. The programs
funded through CCC are administered by employees of the Farm Service Agency. The
CCC has the authority to borrow up to $30 billion from the U.S. Treasury to carry out its
obligations. Net losses on financial operations subsequently are restored through the
congressional appropriations process.
Commodity distribution — Direct donation of food products by the federal government
to needy persons, schools, and institutions. Commodities are either entitlement or bonus.
Bonus commodities can be received when they are available from surplus stocks purchased
by the Commodity Credit Corporation under its price support program or the
Agricultural Marketing Service under its surplus removal program (Section 32 of the
Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935).
Commodity Distribution Program — This program supplies authority for the Secretary
of Agriculture to use agricultural surplus removal (Section 32) and Commodity Credit
Corporation (CCC) funds to buy commodities for child and elderly nutrition
programs. The Secretary is directed to use Section 32 funds not needed for other purposes
and CCC funds (if stocks are not available) to buy commodities for donation to maintain the
annually programmed level of commodity assistance for Child and Elderly Nutrition
programs. The program is authorized through FY1998 under Section 14 of the National
School Lunch Act (NSLA).
Commodity Distribution Reform Act and WIC Amendments of 1987 — P.L. 100237 (January 8, 1988) established a free-standing law requiring the USDA to improve the
distribution and quality of commodities donated to child nutrition programs. Also established
a foodbank demonstration project making use of Section 32 agricultural surplus commodities,
amended the National School Lunch Act to permit certain pilot projects receiving cash
in lieu of commodities or commodity letters of credit to continue receiving them, and amended
the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to make a variety of changes to the WIC program to
expand coordination with other programs, conduct studies, and convert certain food funding
to use for administrative costs.
Commodity exchange — An organization operating under a set of bylaws aimed at
promoting trade in one or more commodities by providing services and rules for the conduct
Commodity Exchange Authority — A former regulatory agency of USDA established
to administer the Commodity Exchange Act prior to 1975; the predecessor of the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) — The independent federal
regulatory agency established by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act
of 1974 to administer the Commodity Exchange Act. It regulates trading on the futures
exchanges in the United States. The CFTC also regulates the activities of numerous
commodity exchange members, public brokerage houses, commodity trading advisors, and
commodity pool operators.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Act of 1974 — P.L. 93-463
(October 23, 1974) created the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to replace USDA’s
Commodity Exchange Authority, as the independent federal agency responsible for regulating
the futures trading industry. The Act made extensive changes in the basic authority of
Commodity Exchange Act of 1936, which itself had made extensive changes in the
original Grain Futures Act of 1923.
Commodity Import Programs (CIPs) — The U.S. Agency for International
Development uses a small portion of U.S. foreign aid funds to make grants and loans to
countries judged important to U.S. foreign policy objectives. These CIPs, by making dollars
available, help these countries finance purchases of U.S. commodities (including agricultural
commodities) or other inputs needed to meet their development objectives and also provide
balance-of-payments support to countries with very limited foreign exchange.
Commodity letters of credit (CLOC) — Food instruments issued in lieu of commodities
to certain designated schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.
These letters of credit specify the types of foods that schools must buy, which are the same
types of foods being donated to other schools by USDA under the commodity distribution
Commodity loan rates — Price per unit (pound, bushel, bale, or hundredweight) at which
the CCC provides nonrecourse loans to farmers to enable them to hold program crops
for later sale. Commodity loans under the FAIR Act of 1996 are recourse for sugar in
years that imports are below 1.5 million short tons, and will become recourse for dairy in
Commodity programs — This term is usually meant to include the commodity price and
income support programs administered by the Farm Service Agency and financed by the
Commodity Credit Corporation. The commodities now receiving support are: (1) those
included in the production flexibility contract payments program, specifically wheat,
feed grains, cotton, and rice; those eligible for nonrecourse marketing assistance loans,
soybeans and minor oilseeds; those under marketing quota limits, peanuts and tobacco;
and, milk. A broader term that includes these programs and others is farm programs.
Commodity promotion programs — Programs that advertise and promote a commodity
without reference to the specific farmer, brand name, or manufacturer. The programs are
authorized by law and financed by assessments (also called check-offs) of industry
members, such as producers, importers, and handlers. The FAIR Act of 1996 explicitly
authorizes new producer-funded research and promotion programs for canola and rapeseed,
kiwifruit, and popcorn and also gives USDA general authority to create programs for other
commodities at the request of producer groups.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) — The CSFP provides funding for
monthly food packages consisting of USDA commodities (juice, egg mix, and canned fruits
and vegetables), and administrative funding for local agencies serving low-income pregnant
and postpartum women, infants, children up to age 6, and persons 60 years of age or older.
The precursor of the WIC program, the CSFP now operates in 81 project areas located in 20
states, and over one-half of the beneficiaries are elderly. CSFP is authorized through FY2002
under the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973, as amended by the
FAIR Act of 1996.
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) — The set of legislation and practices jointly
adopted by the nations of the European Union (EU) in order to provide a common, unified
policy framework for agriculture. Its stated purposes are to increase farm productivity,
stabilize markets, ensure a fair standard of living for farmers, guarantee regular supplies, and
ensure reasonable prices for consumers. The CAP rests upon four basic principles: common
import restrictions, common financing, common pricing, and common treatment of surpluses.
Common external tariff (CXT) — A tariff rate applied by a regional grouping of
countries as a unit. For example, the European Community allows free trade in most
agricultural commodities among member countries, but applies common external tariffs
against many farm products imported from non-member or “third” countries.
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) — A formal association of states
comprising the republics formed out of the former Soviet Union, with the exception of
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Included are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia,
Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and
Community Development Corporation (CDC) — Tax-exempt, non-profit
organizations whose primary mission is the economic and social revitalization of distressed
urban and rural areas. A CDC is a community-based organization carrying out its activities
within a geographically defined area. CDCs may support or undertake such activities as
housing development and rehabilitation, job training and counseling, and business
Community Facilities Program (CFP) — Administered by the Rural Housing
Service of USDA, the CFP provides grants, loans, and loan guarantees to local governments,
federally recognized native tribes, and nonprofit organizations. Funds are used to construct,
expand, or rehabilitate such community facilities as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes,
ambulatory care centers, police and fire stations, rescue and fire vehicles, communication
centers, telecommunications, distant learning and telemedicine, child and adult care centers,
jails, courthouses, airports, and schools.
Comparative advantage — Refers to the economic theory that in international trade it is
more advantageous for a country to devote its resources not to all lines of production in which
it may have superiority (least cost production), but to those in which its relative superiority
is greatest. Two countries may find trade mutually profitable even if one of the countries
could produce all goods at lower cost than the other.
Competitive advantage — A situation in which one country, region, or producer can
produce a particular commodity more cheaply than another country, region or producer.
Competitive bidding (for WIC) — With respect to the WIC program, refers to the
method for containing program costs, particularly for infant formula contained in food
packages; requires state WIC agencies to solicit bids to infant formula companies for the sale
of their product. This is recommended but not required for other products sold through the
Competitive foods (in lunch programs) — Foods that may be regulated for sale in
competition with the school lunch and breakfast programs under provisions of the National
School Lunch Act.
Competitive imports — A term used by USDA’s Economic Research Service in its
reporting of agricultural trade statistics to describe imports that are similar to and therefore
competitive (in contrast to non-competitive) with those produced in the United States.
Examples are beef, wheat, cotton, and sugar.
Composting — The controlled biological decomposition of organic material, such as sewage
sludge, animal manures, or crop residues, in the presence of air to form a humus-like material.
Controlled methods of composting include mechanical mixing and aerating, ventilating the
materials by dropping them through a vertical series of aerated chambers, or placing the
compost in piles out in the open air and mixing it or turning it periodically.
Con Act — Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act
Concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) — Generally, a facility where large
numbers of farm animals are confined, fed, and raised, such as dairy and beef cattle feedlots,
hog production facilities, and closed poultry houses. EPA has developed a specific regulatory
definition of CAFO for the purposes of enforcing the Clean Water Act. The Act requires
individual places that are potential sources of water pollution to obtain point source
discharge permits that specify the allowable levels of effluent from each of these places. The
EPA regulations define “animal feeding operations” as those confining livestock or poultry
for 45 days or more in a 12-month period in a facility that has no vegetative ground cover.
Such places are further considered “concentrated,” and therefore required to have an EPA
permit, if they reach certain size limits or meet other criteria specified in the EPA regulations.
Those size limits are 700 mature dairy cattle, 1,000 beef cattle, 100,000 chickens, 55,000
turkeys, 2,500 swine, or 10,000 sheep.
Concentration (economic) — A measure of the degree to which a few large firms
dominate total sales, production, or capacity within an industry or market. The concern is that
the more concentrated an industry, the greater the likelihood of price and market manipulation.
For example, meat packer concentration has long been a concern of cattle producers. It is
common to express concentration as a ratio, by stating the share (%) held by the top 4, 8, or
Concessional (export) sale — A sale in which a foreign buyer is allowed payment terms
that are more favorable than those obtainable in the commercial market. Under P.L. 480, the
concessional terms include the length of the credit period, the grace period for repayment, and
the interest rate charged.
Conditional registration — Under special circumstances, the Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) permits registration of pesticide products
that is “conditional” upon the submission of additional data. These special circumstances
include a finding by EPA that a new product or use of an existing pesticide will not
significantly increase the risk of unreasonable adverse effects. A product containing a new
(previously unregistered) active ingredient may be conditionally registered only if the EPA
finds that such conditional registration is in the public interest, that a reasonable time for
conducting the additional studies has not elapsed, and the use of the pesticide for the period
of conditional registration will not present an unreasonable risk.
Conjunctive use — Water management methods. Usually used to describe the practice of
storing surface water in a groundwater basin in wet years and withdrawing it from the basin
in dry years. Often used in discussing water supplies and water conservation.
Conservation — The management of human and natural resources to provide maximum
benefits over a sustained period of time (see sustainable agriculture). In farming,
conservation entails matching cropping patterns and the productive potential and physical
limitations of agricultural lands to ensure long-term sustainability of profitable production.
Conservation practices focus on conserving soil, water, energy, and biological resources.
Contour farming, no-till farming, and integrated pest management are typical
examples of conservation practices.
Conservation (cross) compliance — A provision originally authorized by the Food
Security Act of 1985 that requires farmers who operate on highly erodible land to
manage this land under an approved conservation system in order to maintain eligibility in
specified federal farm programs. The FAIR Act of 1996 amended the conservation
compliance provisions in several ways to provide greater planting flexibility to farmers.
Conservation districts — A legal subdivision of a state government, with an elected
governing body, which develops and implements soil and water conservation programs within
a certain area, usually coinciding with county lines. The nearly 3,000 districts in the United
States have varying names — soil conservation district, soil and water conservation district,
natural resources district, resource conservation district, resources district, or
Conservation easement — Acquisition of rights and interest to a property to protect
identified conservation or resource values, using a reserved interest deed. Since the mid
1970s, conservation easements have been purchased to protect nearly 420,000 acres of
farmland in fifteen states, primarily in the Northeast.
Conservation Farm Option Program — A provision of the FAIR Act of 1996
authorizes a pilot program for producers who receive production flexibility payments to enter
into a contract to consolidate payments at rates that are equivalent to payments that would
otherwise be received from the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve
Program, and/or the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in exchange for
implementing practices to protect soil, water, and wildlife.
Conservation plan — A combination of land uses and farming practices to protect and
improve soil productivity and water quality, and to prevent deterioration of natural resources
on all or part of a farm. Plans may be prepared by staff working in conservation districts
and must meet technical standards. For some purposes, such as conservation compliance,
the plan must be approved by the local conservation district. Under the 1996 FAIR Act,
conservation plans for conservation compliance must be both technically and economically
Conservation practice — Any technique or measure used to protect soil and water
resources for which standards and specifications for installation, operation, or maintenance
have been developed. Practices approved by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation
Service are compiled at each conservation district in its field office technical guide.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) — A program, created in the Food Security
Act of 1985, to retire from production up to 45 million acres of highly erodible and
environmentally sensitive farmland. Landowners who sign contracts agree to keep retired
lands in approved conserving uses for 10-15 years. In exchange, the landowner receives
an annual rental payment, cost-share payments to establish permanent vegetative cover and
technical assistance. The CRP reportedly has reduced erosion by up to 700 million tons per
year. The FAIR Act of 1996 extends authorization to enroll land through 2002 and caps
maximum CRP acreage at 36.4 million acres, its 1995 level. The Act also makes the program
spending mandatory and finances it through the Commodity Credit Corporation.
Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) — CTA has been the central activity of the
Natural Resources Conservation Service since it was established in 1936. NRCS field
staff help landowners and farm operators plan and implement soil and water conservation and
water quality practices. The most common use of this program in recent years has been
preparing and updating conservation compliance plans. In FY1993, CTA assisted 1.2
million farmers and serviced 62 million acres.
Conservation tillage — Any tillage and planting system that leaves at least 30% of the soil
surface covered by residue after planting. Conservation tillage maintains a ground cover with
less soil disturbance than traditional cultivation, thereby reducing soil loss and energy use
while maintaining crop yields and quality. Conservation tillage techniques include minimum
tillage, mulch tillage, ridge tillage, and no-till.
Conserving use acreage — Farmland diverted from crop production to an approved
cultural practice that prevents erosion or other degradation. Though crops are not produced,
conserving use is considered an agricultural use of the land.
Considered planted — Refers to a provision of the Agricultural Act of 1949 that was
used to implement the base acreage and yield system for the 1991-95 crops, a provision that
was suspended by the FAIR Act of 1996. Under previous law, crop acreage bases were,
in general, calculated as a 5-year average of planted and considered planted acreage. Acreage
considered planted includes acreage idled under production adjustment programs or for
weather-related reasons or natural disasters; acreage devoted to conservation purposes or
planted to certain other allowed commodities; and acreage USDA determines is necessary for
fair and equitable treatment.
Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act of 1961 — P.L. 87-128 (August 8,
1961) authorized a major expansion of USDA lending activities, which at the time were
administered by USDA’s Farmers Home Administration (FmHA), but now through USDA’s
Farm Service Agency. The legislation was originally enacted as the Consolidated
Farmers Home Administration Act of 1961. In 1972, this title was changed to the
Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, and is often referred to as the Con
Act. The Con Act, as amended, currently serves as the authorizing statute for USDA’s
agricultural and rural development lending programs. Titles in the Act include current
authority for the following three major FSA farm loan programs—farm ownership, farm
operating and emergency disaster loans. Major amendments to the Con Act enacted in recent
years that affect current USDA farm lending programs include the following: Title VI of the
Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-233, January 6, 1988) assists borrowers by
requiring FSA to restructure or write down a delinquent loan if the government cost of
restructuring is less than the cost of foreclosure. Title VI details the restructuring process and
gives delinquent borrowers specific rights throughout the process. Title XVIII, Subtitle A of
the FACT Act of 1990 contained provisions designed to curb the perceived abuses of the
borrower rights provisions of the 1987 Act. The 1990 farm bill allows FSA to consider the
equity in non-essential assets in determining what portion of the loan can be written down and
also gives FSA the authority to deny a borrower restructuring if these non-essential assets can
be liquidated to make the borrower current on the delinquent loan. The Agricultural Credit
Improvement Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-554, October 28, 1992) established new USDA loan
programs to assist beginning farmers and ranchers. The law established direct and guaranteed
loan programs for beginning farmers and ranchers, and a program to provide 10-year loans
for beginning farmers and ranchers to purchase their own farm or ranch in return for a down
payment equivalent to 10% of the purchase price of the land. The law also limited the total
number of years any borrower may participate in the agency’s farm ownership and operating
loan programs. Title VI of the FAIR Act of 1996 directly affects eligibility for FSA loans
and the servicing of its delinquent loans. It tightens the borrower rights provisions of the 1987
Act by, e.g., prohibiting any borrower who has had debt forgiven on a delinquent loan from
receiving a new loan, and expedites the sale of farmland acquired by USDA through
foreclosure or other forms of debt settlement.
Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) — The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ general measure of
retail prices (for goods and services) paid by urban wage earners and clerical workers.
Includes prices of about 400 items, including food, clothing, housing, medical care, and
transportation. The CPI-U is commonly used to deflate time series data and is the most
widely accepted measure of inflation.
Consumer subsidy equivalent (CSE) — A measure of the value of monetary transfers
to consumers resulting from agricultural policies in a given year. If negative, it measures the
implicit tax imposed on consumers by agricultural policies. The main component of the CSE
is market transfers due to market price support to producers. The CSE can be measured
in money terms, in money terms per unit of production, or in percentage terms. See
producer subsidy equivalent (PSE).
Consumptive water use — Water removed from available supplies without return to a
water resources system, e.g., water used in manufacturing, agriculture, and food preparation.
Crop consumptive water use is the amount of water transpired during plant growth plus what
evaporated from the soil surface and foliage in the crop area.
Continuous inspection — USDA’s meat and poultry inspection system is often called
“continuous” because no animal destined for human food may be slaughtered or dressed
unless an inspector is continuously present to examine each one before slaughter
(antemortem inspection), and its carcass and parts after slaughter (postmortem
inspection). In processing plants (as opposed to slaughter plants), inspectors need not be
present at all times, but they do visit at least once daily. Thus, processing inspection is also
considered to be continuous.
Contour farming — Field operations (such as plowing, planting, cultivating, and
harvesting) at right angles to the natural slope to reduce soil erosion, protect soil fertility, and
limit water runoff. Contour strip farming is a kind of contour farming in which row crops are
planted in strips, between alternating strips of close-growing, erosion-resistant forage crops.
Contract acreage — Enrolled 1996 commodity base acreage under the FAIR Act of
1996 for wheat, feed grains, upland cotton, and rice (generally fixed for 1996 through 2002).
A farmer may voluntarily choose to reduce contract acreage in subsequent years. Land
leaving the CRP may be entered into a production flexibility contract if the land was
previously commodity base acreage.
Contract commodity — The commodities previously eligible for deficiency payments
and now eligible for production flexibility contracts under the FAIR Act of 1996:
wheat, corn, sorghum, barley, oats, rice, and upland cotton.
Contract for future sale — A sales contract under which a farmer agrees to deliver
products of specified quality and quantity to a buyer for a specified price within a prescribed
time frame. Contract sales are a growing practice, recently accounting for 86% of poultry,
more than 50% of fruits, and 43% of milk. The benefits to processors are greater uniformity
and predictability resulting in lower costs of grading, processing, and packing. The benefits
to farmers are more stable income from a guaranteed market and price, and possibly access
to a wider range of production inputs and advanced technology.
Contract payments under AMTA — Some $36 billion in payments to be made to
farmers for contract crops for fiscal years 1996-2002 under Title I of the FAIR Act of
1996, known as the Agricultural Market Transition Act (AMTA). The total amount
made available for each fiscal year is specified in the Act and allocated to commodities each
fiscal year using a set of percentages also specified in the Act. These percentages were based
on the Congressional Budget Office’s February 1995 baseline forecast of what deficiency
payments would have been if provisions in effect for the 1995 crop had been extended. For
example, for fiscal 1997, the total allocation for wheat is 26.26% of total annual payments
of $5.385 billion, or $1.414 billion. The annual payment rate for wheat equals total spending
($1.414 billion) divided by the sum of all individual wheat payment contract quantities for the
year. As with other program commodities, an individual farm’s payment quantity equals
the farm’s program payment yield multiplied by 85% of the farms wheat contract acreage.
Program yields under the 1996 Act are determined in the same manner as under the 1949
Act for 1995 crops. An individual farmer’s transition payment is the payment quantity times
the annual payment rate. The payment is made by September 30 of each of the fiscal years
1996 through 2002. Producers may also choose to receive 50% of the contract payment in
December or January of the fiscal year. Farmers have near total planting flexibility on the
contract acres (the exception being fruits and vegetables) as well as on the remainder of the
Contract production — A form of vertical integration where a firm commits to
purchase a commodity from a producer at a price formula set in advance of the purchase.
Contract sanctity — The concept that U.S. agricultural products already contracted to be
exported should not be subject to government cancellation because of short supply, national
security, and/or foreign policy reasons. The FACT Act of 1990 provides for contract
sanctity by prohibiting the President from restricting the export of any agricultural commodity
already under contract to be delivered within 270 days from the date the embargo is
imposed, except during national emergency or war.
Conventional agriculture — Generally used to contrast common or traditional
agricultural practices featuring heavy reliance on chemical and energy inputs typical of largescale, mechanized farms to alternative agriculture or sustainable agriculture practices.
Mold-board plowing to cover stubble, routine pesticide spraying, and use of synthetic
fertilizers are examples of conventional practices that contrast to alternative practices such
as no-till, integrated pest management, and use of animal and green manures.
Conventional tillage — Tillage operations considered standard for a specific location and
crop and that tend to bury the crop residues; usually considered as a base for determining the
cost effectiveness of erosion control practices. See no-till farming.
Converted wetland — Under the swampbuster program, these are wetlands that were
drained or altered to improve agricultural production after December 23, 1985, the date
swampbuster was enacted. On lands with this designation, no drainage maintenance and no
additional drainage are allowed.
Conveyance loss — Water loss in pipes, channels, conduits, ditches by leakage or
Cooperative — An enterprise or organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those
using its services. In agriculture, such an organization is owned and used by farmers mainly
to handle the off-farm part of their businesses — buying farm supplies, marketing their
products, furnishing electric and telephone service, and providing business services —at cost.
Essential features are democratic control, limited return on capital, and operation at cost, with
distribution of financial benefits to individuals in proportion to their use of the services made
available by the cooperative (called patronage refunds). In 1997, there were 3,884 farmer
cooperatives in the United States. As a variation from the traditional design, so-called “new
generation cooperatives" are characterized by limited membership, require substantial
investment, and include delivery contracts. Producers are increasingly using this model to
create their own value-added business enterprises. The USDA's Rural BusinessCooperative Service (RBS) assists in forming new cooperative businesses and improving
the operations of existing cooperatives through technical assistance, research, information
products. Cooperatives are afforded certain antitrust exemptions by the Capper-Volstead
Cooperative Extension System — A federal-state-local cooperative education system that
provides continuing adult education based on the academic programs of the land grant
colleges of agriculture and their affiliated state agricultural experiment stations.
The system employs approximately 32,000 people located on land grant campuses and offices
in virtually every county in the nation. About half of Extension’s education programs focus
on agriculture and natural resources, one-quarter on youth development (including the
vocational 4-H program), and the balance on home economics and community resource
Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) — The
USDA agency that administers federal funds appropriated for agricultural and forestry
research, extension, and education programs at eligible institutions, including the land grant
colleges of agriculture in the states, selected veterinary schools, and other institutions with
capabilities in the food and agricultural science arena. The agency administers formula
funds to the 1862 land grant colleges under the Hatch Act of 1887, the Smith-Lever
Act of 1914 and the McIntire-Stennis Act of 1962; Evans-Allen funds for research
programs at the 1890 land grant colleges; the National Research Initiative (NRI)
Competitive Grants program; the Special Grants program; grants for higher education; and
the research portion of the Fund for Rural America. http://www.reeusda.gov/
Cooperator program — Officially known as the Foreign Market Development
Program (FMDP). One of several agricultural export promotion programs operated by the
Foreign Agricultural Service. This program consists of joint government/agri-industry
efforts to develop markets by acquainting potential foreign customers with U.S. farm
products. Activities under this program include providing technical assistance to prospective
foreign buyers, overseas food exhibits, product demonstrations and advertising aimed at
foreign consumers. FAS shares the financing of these projects with the “cooperators,” which
are nonprofit commodity trade associations primarily composed of producer-based farm
Coordinated review effort (CRE) — Food and Consumer Service reviews of the
National School Lunch Program conducted in cooperation with state agencies to improve
the management of the programs, evaluate meal data accuracy, and provide training and
technical support to schools to help improve local program accountability.
Corn Belt — That area of the United States where corn is a principal cash crop, including
Iowa, Indiana, most of Illinois, and parts of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota,
Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Corn gluten — A byproduct of wet milling of corn. Corn gluten is used as a mediumprotein (20-24%), medium-fiber (10%) feedstuff. The European Union is the major market
for U.S. corn gluten feeds.
Corn/hog ratio — See hog/corn ratio, and feed ratio.
Corporate farm — A form of farm ownership which is a separate legal entity from the
owners of the farm. Changes in the tax law in the 1970s encouraged the incorporation of
farms as corporate tax rates declined while individual tax rates rose, mainly because of
inflation. The 1992 Census of Agriculture reports that less than 4%, or nearly 73,000, of the
1.925 million farms in the nation were corporate farms. By contrast, more than 1.653 million
(86%) were individual or family-owned operations and 186,000 (10%) were partnerships.
Cosmetic appearance — Section 1351 of the FACT Act of 1990 defines the term as
“the exterior appearance of an agricultural commodity, including changes to that appearance
resulting from superficial damage or other alterations that do not significantly affect yield,
taste, or nutritional value.” The Agricultural Marketing Service sets grades and standards
for many agricultural commodities. Some consumer and environmental groups have argued
that some of these standards are harmful because they encourage excessive pesticide use
merely to make fruits and vegetables “attractive.” Agricultural interests disagree, countering
that consumers prefer blemish-free produce and that cosmetic standards are no less important
than other grading factors.
Cost/benefit analysis — A quantitative and sometimes qualitative evaluation of the costs
which would be incurred by some action (such as implementing an environmental regulation)
versus the overall benefits to society of the proposed action.
Cost-containment (for WIC) — Refers to statutory provisions in the Child Nutrition
Act of 1966 that require state agencies to contain WIC program costs, particularly with
respect to the cost of infant formula sold through the program. See also competitive
bidding and sole source bids.
Cost, insurance, and freight (C.I.F.) — In general, c.i.f. means that the seller’s price
includes the cost of the goods, the marine insurance, and all transportation charges to the
named point of destination. Similar terms include C.&F., cost and freight; C.F.I., cost,
freight, and insurance; C.I.F. & C., cost, insurance, freight, and commission; C.I.F.C. & I.,
cost, insurance, freight, commission, and interest; and C.I.F.I. & E., cost, insurance, freight,
interest, and exchange. C.A.F. is the French form of C.I.F.
Cost of production — The average unit cost (including purchased inputs and other
expenses) of producing an agricultural commodity. The Agricultural and Consumer
Protection Act of 1973 requires USDA to make annual estimates of the average cost of
producing selected commodities. These cost of production estimates have been used by
Congress in considering farm policy options.
Cotton competitiveness provisions — A series of provisions in the cotton support
program, including step two payments and import quotas, that are intended to encourage
the consumption of U.S. cotton even when its price may be higher than foreign cotton.
Cottonseed Oil Assistance Program (COAP) — Along with the Sunflower Oil
Assistance Program (SOAP), COAP is one of two programs under which bonuses were
awarded to exporters to assist in exports of U.S. vegetable oil to targeted markets. Funds for
the programs were authorized to be made available under Section 32 of the Agricultural
Adjustment Act of 1935. The provision in the Disaster Assistance Act of 1988 that
authorized the COAP to begin in fiscal year 1989 expired at the end of fiscal year 1995.
However, the Agriculture Appropriations Act of 1996 provided authority to operate the
program in fiscal year 1996. COAP was not reauthorized by the FAIR Act of 1996,
although export subsidies for cottonseed oil can be financed under the Export Enhancement
Countertrade — A trade transaction of goods and services without the exchange of money.
Forms of countertrade include barter, buy-back or compensation, counter-purchase, offset
requirements, swap, or triangular trade.
Countervailing duty — A charge levied on an imported article to offset the unfair price
advantage it holds due to a subsidy paid to producers or exporters by the government of the
exporting country. Section 303 of the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, provides for
an assessment equal to the amount of the subsidy, in addition to other duties and fees normally
paid on the imported article. Countervailing duties are permitted under Article 6 of the
Country-of-origin labeling — Under Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as
amended, most products entering the United States must be clearly marked so that the
“ultimate purchaser” can identify the country of origin. Imported meat products are subject
to this requirement: imported carcasses and parts of carcasses must be labeled, and individual
retail (consumer-ready) packages also must be labeled. Imported carcasses or parts generally
go to U.S. plants for further processing. The labeling policy considers these plants as the
“ultimate purchasers.” Therefore, any products these plants make from the imported meat
(for example, ground beef patties made in the United States from beef that originated in
Canada or elsewhere) do not have to bear country-of-origin labels. A number of other
agricultural articles are exempt from the basic country-of-origin labeling requirements: eggs,
livestock and other animals, live or dead; and other “natural products” such as fruits,
vegetables, nuts and berries. (However, the outermost containers used to bring these articles
into the United States must indicate the country of origin.) There is an interest among U.S.
farmers to require more extensive labeling of agricultural products (especially meats and
produce). At issue are whether consumers would be more likely to buy the U.S. alternative
if such labeling is more prevalent and whether foreign countries might view such a change as
a nontariff trade barrier.
County committees — Panels of three to five farmers, elected by other farmers, to oversee
the local operation of commodity programs, credit, and other programs of the Farm
Service Agency. County committees, established by the Soil Conservation and
Domestic Allotment Act of 1935, are so named because they have overseen USDA field
offices for farmers that once existed in most rural farm counties throughout the United States.
Today, the committees often oversee activities in multi-county areas, due to USDA
reorganization and consolidation of its field office structure into a network of about 2,500
field service centers. The committees are responsible for hiring and supervising the
County Executive Director (CED), who manages the day-to-day activities of the field
service center and its employees. The director and most county office staff legally are
employees of the farmer-elected committees rather than the federal government, although their
salaries come from federal funds.
County Executive Director (CED) — The supervisor hired by the Farm Service Agency
county committee to manage the day-to day activities of a field service center (formerly
called the county office).
County loan rate — Nonrecourse loan rates vary from county to county to account for
transportation cost differences to the nearest terminal elevator. The weighted average for all
county loan rates — the actual loan levels received by farmers — in the United States must
equal the national average loan rate, established by USDA according to limits set by
County office — Usually refers to the local office of the Farm Service Agency, where
farmers go to conduct business associated with federal farm commodity and credit programs,
and some conservation programs. As a result of reorganization in 1994, local offices are
increasingly shared with other USDA agencies having local representatives, such as the
Natural Resources Conservation Service. Offices shared by several agencies are called
field service centers.
County payments — Forest Service payments of 25% of gross revenues from each
national forest to the states for use on road and school programs in the counties where the
national forests are located. Technically known as Payments to States, because the states
determine which road and school programs can be funded, but 100% of the payments are
allocated to the counties based on the national forest acreage in each county. Commonly
confused with Payments in lieu of taxes.
Cover crop — A close-growing crop, planted primarily as a rotation between regularly
planted crops, or between trees and vines in orchards and vineyards, to protect soil from
erosion and improve it between periods of regular crops, or.
Cow-calf operator — A ranch or farm where cows are raised and bred mainly to produce
calves usually destined for the beef market. The cows produce a calf crop each year, and the
operation keeps some heifer calves from each calf crop for breeding herd replacements. The
rest of the calf crop is sold between the ages of 6 and 12 months along with old or
nonproductive cows and bulls. Such calves often are sold to producers who raise them as
CP — Contracting party
CPI — Consumer price index
CRBSC — Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program
CRC — Crop Revenue Coverage (See Revenue insurance.)
CRES — Conservation Reporting and Evaluation System
Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD) — A sporadic and rare, but fatal human disease that
usually strikes people over 65. It occurs worldwide at an estimated annual rate of one case
per million population. About 10-15% of CJD cases are inherited. A small number of cases
occurred as the result of various medical treatments or procedures which inadvertently
transferred the CJD agent. In March 1996, the British government announced a possible link
between bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and CJD. The announcement was
prompted by the discovery of several atypical cases of CJD in Great Britain.
Critical control point — An operation (practice, procedure, process, or location) at or by
which preventive or control measures can be exercised that will eliminate, prevent, or
minimize one or more hazards. Critical control points are fundamental to Hazard Analysis
and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems, which are now being adopted by the food
industry to prevent health hazards in the food supply.
Critical habitat — Under the Endangered Species Act, critical habitat is an area
essential to the conservation of a listed species, though the area need not actually be occupied
by the species at the time it is designated. Critical habitat must be designated for all
threatened and endangered species under the Act (with certain specified exceptions). The
areas may be federal or nonfederal land, but only the federal government is required to protect
it. A federal agency with whom a landowner is dealing must ensure that its actions (which
may include giving a loan, increasing irrigation flows, etc.) do not adversely modify these
Crop acreage base — A crop-specific measure equal to the average number of acres
planted (or considered planted) to a particular program crop for the previous five years. The
sum of the crop acreage bases for all program crops on a farm may not exceed the farm
acreage. The acreage base was used in determining the number of acres a farmer, under an
acreage reduction program, had to remove from normal crop production and devote to
conserving uses in order to be eligible for USDA price and income supports. The FAIR
Act of 1996 suspends the base acreage provisions of the permanent law.
Crop insurance — A multiperil crop insurance program available for a fee (premium) to
the producers of most crops as protection against significant yield losses from natural hazards.
The present Federal Crop Insurance Program is a comprehensive, subsidized, all-risk
program that provides different degrees of protection for different premium amounts.
Crop reports — Reports compiled by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service
(NASS) on various commodities that are released throughout the year. Information in the
reports includes estimates on planted acreage, yield, and expected production, as well as
comparison of production from previous years.
Crop residue — That portion of a plant, such as a corn stalk, left in the field after harvest.
Crop residues are measured for farmers who use conservation tillage to implement their
conservation plans to meet conservation compliance requirements. These farmers are
required to maintain a minimum level of crop residue to be in compliance. Under revisions
to the conservation compliance program in the FAIR Act of 1996, farmers are allowed to
use third parties, certified by USDA, to measure levels of crop residue.
Crop rotation — The growing of different crops, in recurring succession, on the same land
in contrast to monoculture cropping. Rotation usually is done to replenish soil fertility and
to reduce pest populations in order to increase the potential for high levels of production in
Crop year — Generally refers to USDA-designated 12-month period for each crop that
begins with that crop’s typical month of harvest (see marketing year).
Cropland — Land used primarily for the production of row crops, close-growing crops, and
fruit and nut crops. It includes cultivated and noncultivated acreage, but not land enrolled in
the Conservation Reserve Program. Approximately 382 million acres of cropland,
including 50 million acres of irrigated land, was in use in the United States during the most
recent national resources inventory, conducted in 1992. Cropland is 30% of all nonfederal rural lands. In 1996, the value of production from cropland was about $108 billion.
Cross compliance — A no longer used requirement that a farmer who participates in a
price support program for one crop must also participate in price support programs for
other crops grown on the same farm.
CRP — Conservation Reserve Program
Crush spread — In the soybean futures market, the simultaneous purchase of soybean
futures and the sale of soybean meal and soybean oil futures to establish a processing margin.
See gross processing margin.
CSCE — Coffee, Sugar, and Cocoa Exchange
CSE — Consumer subsidy equivalent
CSFP — Commodity Supplemental Food Program
CSPI — Center for Science in the Public Interest
CSREES — Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
CSRS — Cooperative State Research Service (See Cooperative State Research,
Education, and Extension Service.)
CU — Consumers’ Union
Custom feeders — Producers who provide the service of feeding animals (e.g., cattle, hogs)
they do not own, in return for a fee paid by someone else (such as a packer) who does own
the animals. Custom feeding potentially provides packers with more control over supplies and
prices of animals. Custom feeding is a form of vertical integration.
Customs union — An agreement between two or more countries to remove trade barriers
between each other and to establish common tariff and nontariff policies with respect to other
countries. The European Community (EC) of the European Union (EU) is the best
know customs union.
CVD — Countervailing duty
CVM — Center for Veterinary Medicine
CWA — Clean Water Act (Federal Water Pollution Control Act)
CWB — Canadian Wheat Board
cwt. — Hundredweight, or one hundred pounds
CXT — Common external tariff
CY — Crop year; calendar year
CYFAR — Children, Youth and Families at Risk Program
CZMA — Coastal Zone Management Act
Dacthal (DCPA) — A selective herbicide, trade name Dacthal, used especially on
vegetables. DCPA and its breakdown products are environmentally significant and became
the most commonly detected pesticide residues in an EPA survey of drinking water wells
conducted during 1988-1990.
Dairy and Tobacco Adjustment Act of 1983 — P.L. 98-180 (November 29, 1983) was
designated the Dairy And Tobacco Adjustment Act of 1983. Title I authorized a
voluntary dairy diversion program, which was operated between January 1984 and
March 1985. Producers who elected to participate in the program and reduce their milk
marketings by between 5 and 30% below their base production were paid $10 per hundred
pounds (cwt.) for these reductions. For a 16-month period (12/1/83- 3/31/85), all dairy
farmers were assessed 50 cents per cwt. on all milk marketed to help defray the cost of the
diversion program. The Act also authorized a national dairy check-off program for dairy
product promotion, research and nutrition education. This self-help program is funded
through a permanent 15-cent per cwt. assessment on all milk production, and is administered
by a board of dairy farmers who are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. Title II was
designated the Tobacco Adjustment Act of 1983. Title II provided for reduced levels of
price support for tobacco, the prohibition of lease and transfer of flue-cured quota, the
mandatory sale of allotments and quotas by nonfarming entities, the required inspection of
imported tobacco, and various other modifications to the tobacco programs.
Dairy Diversion Program — A voluntary supply control program authorized by the
Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983, under which producers in 1984-85
received payments, of $10 per cwt., for reducing their milk marketings by between 5 to 30%
below an earlier base period.
Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP) — A program that offers subsidies to
exporters of U.S. dairy products to help them compete with other nations. USDA pays cash
to exporters as bonuses to help them sell certain U.S. dairy products at prices below the
exporter’s cost of acquiring them. The program was originally authorized by the Food
Security Act of 1985 and extended by the FACT Act of 1990 and the Uruguay Round
Agreements Act of 1994. The total tonnage and dollar amounts of these and other export
subsidies have been limited by the recent Uruguay Round multilateral trade agreement. The
FAIR Act of 1996 extends the program through 2002, and permits its use for market
development in addition to offsetting the subsidies of other countries.
Dairy Price Support Program — The federal program that maintains a minimum farm
price for milk used in the manufacture of dairy products. The CCC indirectly assures a
minimum price for milk by purchasing any cheddar cheese, nonfat dry milk, and butter offered
to it by dairy processors at stated prices. These purchase prices are set high enough to enable
dairy processors to pay farmers at least the support price for the milk they use in
manufacturing these products. The support price is $10.20 per hundred pounds of milk (cwt.)
in 1997. It will decrease to $10.05/cwt in 1998, and $9.90/cwt in 1999. Under provisions
of the FAIR Act of 1996, the dairy price support program is scheduled to terminate on
December 31, 1999.
Dairy Promotion Program — The Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983 authorized
a national producer program for dairy product promotion, research, and nutrition education
as part of a comprehensive strategy to increase human consumption of milk and dairy
products and to reduce dairy surpluses. Dairy farmers fund this self-help program through
a mandatory 15-cent per hundredweight assessment on all milk produced in the 48 contiguous
states and marketed commercially. Dairy farmers can direct up to 10 cents of this assessment
for contributions to qualified regional, state or local dairy product promotion, research or
nutrition education programs. The national program is administered by the National Dairy
Promotion and Research Board (Dairy Board), a group of 36 dairy farmers appointed by the
Secretary of Agriculture to staggered 3-year terms. This program should not be confused with
the processor funded Fluid Milk Promotion Program.
Dairy Termination Program — Also called the whole herd buyout, this program was
authorized by the Food Security Act of 1985. Under it, farmers received USDA payments
for agreeing to remove their entire dairy herds from production for 5 years.
Data call-in — A part of the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) process of developing key
required test data, especially on the long-term, chronic effects of existing pesticides, in
advance of scheduled Registration Standard reviews. Data call-in from manufacturers is an
adjunct of the registration standards program intended to expedite re-registration.
DC — District Conservationist
DDT — The abbreviated name of a chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide, dichlorodiphenyl-trichloromethane. It is persistent in the environment and biomagnifies in birds of
prey. EPA canceled U.S. registration of virtually all but emergency uses of DDT in 1972.
Debt-asset ratio — A financial ratio that measures the percentage of a farm operator’s
assets that are financed by debt. For example, a ratio of 0.4 means that for every $100 of
assets the operator has $40 of debt. The ratio indicates to a lender the degree of security of
a loan. Higher values indicate greater risk. Although a safe or acceptable level varies greatly
by enterprise, a debt-asset ratio in excess of 0.4 may indicate financial stress. A ratio of 0
means that the operator owes no debt; a ratio greater than 1 means that the borrower’s debts
exceed the value of assets, indicating the insolvency of the farm business.
Decoupling — The concept of separating federal farm payments from the requirement that
farmers produce specified program crops and/or divert land from production. A chief goal
of decoupling is to remove a seemingly inherent contradiction in traditional policy: asking
farmers to reduce production, while implicitly encouraging more output by tying their benefits
to each unit produced. The decoupling concept was first introduced during debate over policy
options in the 1985 omnibus farm bill, and was effectively implemented by policy changes
made by the FAIR Act of 1996.
Deferred pricing — A cash forward contract that provides for determining price by
formula at a later date. This also may be called “booking the basis,” when the formula sets
price relative to a futures price.
Deficiency payments — Direct government payments made to farmers who participated
in an annual commodity program for wheat, feed grains, rice, or cotton, prior to 1996.
The crop-specific deficiency payment rate was based on the difference between the
legislatively set target price and the lower national average market price during a specified
time. The total payment was equal to the payment rate, multiplied by a farm’s eligible
payment acreage and the program payment yield established for the particular farm. In
the latter years of the program, farmers could receive up to one-half of their projected
deficiency payments at program signup. If actual deficiency payments, which were
determined after the crop year, were less than advance deficiency payments, the farmer
was required to reimburse the government for the difference, except for zero, 50/85-92
payments. The FAIR Act of 1996 eliminated deficiency payments and replaced them with
production flexibility contract payments.
Defoliant — An herbicide that removes leaves from trees and growing plants.
DEIP — Dairy Export Incentive Program
Delaney Clause — The Delaney Clause in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
(FFDCA) states that no additive shall be deemed to be safe for human food if it is found to
induce cancer in man or animals. It is an example of the zero tolerance concept in food
safety policy. The Delaney prohibition appears in three separate parts of the FFDCA: Section
409 on food additives; Section 512, relating to animal drugs in meat and poultry; and Section
721 on color additives. The Section 409 prohibition applied to many pesticide residues until
enactment of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-170, August 3, 1996).
This legislation removed pesticide residue tolerances from Delaney Clause constraints.
Delayed pricing — A type of deferred pricing that provides for transfer of title before the
price is determined and final settlement made. Contracts including this feature are sometimes
called “price-later” contracts.
Delivery — In settlement of a futures contract, the tender and receipt of the actual
commodity, the cash value of the commodity, or of a delivery instrument covering the
commodity (e.g., warehouse receipts or shipping certificates). Futures contracts may be
settled by delivery, but more often they are settled by offset or cash. Each futures exchange
has specific procedures for delivery of a commodity.
Delivery month — The specified month within which a futures contract matures and can
be settled by delivery. Also referred to as contract month.
Delivery point — A location where a commodity can be delivered to fulfill a futures
Dermal toxicity — The ability of a pesticide or other chemical to poison people or animals
via skin contact. Many organophosphate pesticides exhibit high dermal toxicity.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) — USDA was originally established in 1862 and
raised to cabinet status in 1889. In FY1997 it had an employment level equal to about
113,000 staff years, working in some 30 separate agencies, carrying out program activities
valued at $84 billion, with net federal budgetary outlays of $57 billion. Forestry, natural
resource, and farm activities utilized 58% of the staff time. However, about 70% of USDA
expenditures went to domestic food assistance programs. Over 90% of the staff are located
in local, state, and regional field offices away from the Washington, DC, headquarters.
Approximately three-fourths of USDA spending is classified as mandatory spending, which
by definition is not constrained by the annual appropriations process. Eligibility for
mandatory programs is written into law; any individual or entity that meets the eligibility
requirements is entitled to a payment as authorized by the law. The vast majority of
mandatory spending is in the Food Stamp Program and certain other food and nutrition
programs, the farm commodity programs, the crop insurance program, and the
Conservation Reserve Program. The other roughly 25% of USDA budget is classified
as discretionary and is subject to annual appropriations, including rural development,
agricultural research and education, agricultural credit, international food aid, food marketing
and inspection, forestry, and certain nutrition programs. All USDA discretionary programs
are funded through an annual Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (except the Forest Service is
funded through the Department of Interior appropriations act). Annual appropriations are
made to the food stamp and other mandatory nutrition programs based on estimated spending
needs. However, supplemental appropriations are generally made if and when these estimates
fall short of required spending. An annual appropriation is made to the Commodity Credit
Corporation, which funds the commodity programs and the Conservation Reserve
Program, in order to cover its past net realized losses. Most, but not all, USDA programs are
under the congressional authorizing jurisdiction of the House Committee on Agriculture and
the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. http://www.usda.gov/
Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 — Title II of P.L. 103-354
(October 13, 1994) was designated the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994
and gave the Secretary of Agriculture broad authority to reorganize USDA to achieve greater
efficiency, effectiveness, and economy. The law called for consolidation of agencies and
offices, as well as a reduction in personnel of 7,500 by the end of FY1999.
DES — Diethylstilbesterol
Desiccant — A chemical agent that absorbs moisture; desiccants can be used to control
insect pests or mildew, and also to dry foliage before harvest (as with potatoes). Desiccants
are regulated as pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide
Designated uses of water — Water uses identified in state water quality standards that
must be achieved and maintained as required under the Clean Water Act. Uses can include
cold water fisheries, public water supply, irrigation, etc.
Desired future condition — Used to describe the future condition of federal rangeland
resources that meet management objectives. Desired future condition is based on ecological,
social, and economic considerations during the land and resource management planning
process. Desired future condition is usually expressed as ecological status or management
status of vegetation and desired soil qualities.
Desired plant community — The plant community that has been determined through a
land use or management plan to best meet the plan’s objectives for a site. A desired plant
community is consistent with the site’s capability to produce the required resource attributes
through natural succession, management intervention, or a combination of both.
Development easement — A legal agreement by which a landowner surrenders the right
to develop a designated parcel of property. Some local and state governments have programs
to acquire development easements from private landowners to prevent conversion of farmland
to other uses.
Diethylstibestrol (DES) — A synthetic estrogen hormone. DES was used widely in the
United States as a growth promoter in cattle and sheep and as a treatment for
estrogen-deficiency disorders in veterinary medicine, and for postcoital contraception.
However, because of its carcinogenic properties and other adverse effects, the Food and
Drug Administration has revoked all use of it in food-producing animals.
Dioxin — Any of a group of toxic chlorinated compounds known chemically as dibenzo-pdioxins (or the most toxic of these compounds, 2,3,7,8 tetrachloro dibenzo-p-dioxin). They
are produced inadvertently as a by-product of chemical production or combustion and are
widespread pollutants in the environment.
Direct export credit — A federal export promotion program (designated as GSM-5)
operated by the Foreign Agricultural Service. Loans are made directly by the
Commodity Credit Corporation at market interest rates to foreign buyers of agricultural
commodities. Through FY1980, government credit for agricultural exports was made
available through the GSM-5 program. For budget austerity reasons, the program was
replaced with federal export credit guarantees in FY1981. A more limited blended
credit program was used in FY1983-85 that combined direct credit with guaranteed credit.
Direct payments — Payments (usually in cash but sometimes in commodity certificates)
made directly to producers in conjunction with participation in commodity support or other
programs. Under the FAIR Act of 1996, participating producers receive production
flexibility contract payments, which replace deficiency payments. Also, producers
receive direct payments under conservation reserve contracts.
Disaster payments — Direct federal payments provided to crop producers when either
planting is prevented or crop yields are abnormally low because of adverse weather and
related conditions. The Federal Crop Insurance Act of 1980 greatly expanded crop
insurance coverage in an attempt to permanently replace disaster payments with governmentsubsidized insurance. However, between 1988 and 1994, ad-hoc disaster legislation was
enacted in each year that provided a total of nearly $10 billion in direct disaster payments to
farmers. These large payments prompted the enactment of the Federal Crop Insurance
Reform Act of 1994, which included provisions to broaden the federal subsidy of the
federal crop insurance program, in an effort to increase farmer participation in the
program and lessen the pressure for ad-hoc disaster payments. The 1994 Act also created a
permanent noninsured assistance program (NAP) that makes payments to farmers who
grow a crop that is ineligible for crop insurance. NAP pays eligible farmers 60% of the
market price of the crop on losses in excess of 50%, but only when the farmer’s area
experiences a minimum crop loss of 35%.
Discharge — In water resources, the term refers to the flow of surface water in a stream or
canal or the outflow of ground water from a flowing artisan well, ditch, or spring. In
environmental protection, the term is used synonymously with effluent or emission as a term
of point source pollution release.
Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) — An entity to which all World Trade
Organization members belong that is responsible for adjudicating disputes arising under
various trade agreements.
Dissolved oxygen (DO) — The oxygen freely available in water, vital to fish and other
aquatic life and necessary for the prevention of odors in water. DO levels are a critical
indicator of a waterbody’s ability to support desirable aquatic life. Secondary and advanced
wastewater treatments are generally designed to ensure adequate DO in waste-receiving waters
by removing, digesting, or oxidizing oxygen-demanding wastes (see biological oxygen
Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant and Loan Program (DLT) — A
program authorized by the FACT Act of 1990 to provide grants to rural schools and health
care providers to help them invest in telecommunications facilities and equipment to bring
educational and medical resources to rural areas where the services otherwise might be
unavailable. The FAIR Act of 1996 reauthorized and streamlined the program. Funding
is authorized at $100 million annually. DLT is administered by the Rural Utilities Service.
Diversion payments — Payments once but no longer made to farmers who voluntarily
reduced their planted acreage of a program crop and devoted the land to a conservation use
when a paid acreage diversion was in effect. Also, payments made to dairy producers in
the 1980s under the no longer operating dairy termination program who agreed to reduce
their milk marketings below a prescribed level.
DNA — Deoxyribonucleic acid
DO — Dissolved oxygen
Dockage — A factor in the grading of grains and oilseeds; i.e., dockage in wheat is described
as “weed seeds, weed stems, chaff, straw, or grain other than wheat, which can be readily
removed from the wheat by the use of appropriate sieves and cleaning devices; also,
underdeveloped, shriveled and small pieces of wheat kernels removed in properly separating,
properly rescreening, or recleaning.” The term is also used to describe the amount of
reduction in price taken because of a deficiency in quality.
Doctrine of prior appropriation — Water rights doctrine adopted by most western
states, giving the first person to use water from a stream the first right to such water. If the
first user does not consume all of the water, then the second and later users can appropriate
water for their needs. The water right is not necessarily tied to land ownership.
Domestic farm labor — Individuals (and the family) who receive a substantial portion of
their income from the production or handling of agricultural or aquacultural products.
Farmers owners and others may be eligible for Section 514 loans to make housing available
for domestic farm labor. For purposes of housing loans, the farm laborers must be U.S.
citizens or legally admitted for permanent residence in the United States. The term includes
retired or disabled persons who were domestic farm labor at the time of retiring or becoming
Domestic price — The price at which a commodity trades within a country, in contrast to
the world price. For those commodities not benefitting from some form of price support,
the domestic price is determined by supply and demand. For commodities that receive price
support, the domestic price is usually set by the loan rate or some comparable support level
that serves as a price floor in the marketplace working in conjunction with any import quota
that may be in effect.
Double cropping — The practice of consecutively producing two crops of either like or
unlike commodities on the same land within the same year. An example of double cropping
might be to harvest a wheat crop by early summer and then plant corn or soybeans on that
acreage for harvest in the fall. This practice is only possible in regions with long growing
Downer (or downed animals) — Commonly used term for animals that are disabled due
to illness or injury. A longstanding issue is whether these animals are treated humanely or
inhumanely by shippers, stockyards, and packers while they are being moved or held for
slaughter. Legislation periodically introduced in Congress would outlaw the sale or transfer
of such animals, but livestock producer groups (who generally agree that livestock markets
should not accept severely disabled animals) contend that their voluntary efforts to end
harmful practices have already proven successful.
DPSP — Dairy price support program
Drainage — Improving the productivity of agricultural land by removing excess water from
the soil by such means as ditches, drainage wells, or subsurface drainage tiles. See also
swampbuster and wetlands.
Drainage basin — The area of land that drains water, sediment, and dissolved materials to
a common outlet at some point along a stream channel.
Drainage wells — Wells drilled to carry excess water off agricultural fields. Because they
act as a funnel from the surface to the groundwater below, drainage wells can contribute to
DRES — Dietary risk evaluation system
Dryland farming — A system of producing crops in semi-arid regions (usually with less
than 20 inches of annual rainfall) without irrigation. Dryland farmers often try to rebuild soil
moisture by leaving the land fallow (unplanted) or mulched in alternate years, called summer
DSB — Dispute Settlement Body
DTP — Dairy Termination Program
Dumping — Selling commodities in a foreign market at a lower price than in the domestic
market. Under World Trade Organization rules, dumping occurs when the price to the
importer is less than the normal price of the product charged to the buyer in the country of
origin. When considering the imposition of antidumping duties, the U.S. government
examines the imported price of a product compared to its domestic price. In addition,
before duties are imposed, proof of injury to a U.S. industry must be demonstrated.
Durum wheat — A species of wheat distinct from wheat used to make bread and other
bakery products. The hard, flinty kernels of durum wheat are specially ground and refined
to obtain semolina, a granular product used in making pasta items such as macaroni and
spaghetti. Most durum wheats are grown in Mediterranean countries, the former Soviet Union
countries, North America, and Argentina. U.S. durum production is centered in North Dakota
with other producing states being South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, California, and
Duty, import — A customs duty is a charge assessed by a government on an imported item
at its point of customs entry into the country, and paid for by the importer; the term is now
used interchangeably with tariff. In terms of assessing duties there are two basic types: an
ad valorem duty is assessed in proportion to the value of the imported item, whereas a
“specific” duty is assessed on the basis of a measure other than value, such as the quantity of
the product imported. In addition, a “compound” or “mixed” duty, which is a combination
of an ad valorem and specific duty, is occasionally used in the Harmonized Tariff
Schedules of the United States (HTSUS). Special duties such as anti-dumping
duties or countervailing duties may also be levied on imports to offset the unfair price
advantage of an imported article that is sold below normal value or subsidized by an exporting
E. coli 0157:H7 (Escherichia Coli 0157:H7) — A bacterium that lives harmlessly in the
intestines of animals such as cattle, reptiles, and birds. However, in humans the bacterium,
which can be transmitted through foods, can cause bloody diarrhea, and also lead to hemolytic
uremic syndrome (HUS), a life threatening disease. Although other known strains of E. coli
are thought to be harmless to humans, the 0157:H7 strain is particularly virulent and
dangerous. It has been implicated in several major outbreaks of foodborne illness in recent
years. After a 1993 outbreak in the West, caused by the consumption of undercooked
hamburgers, resulted in hundreds of illnesses and several deaths, USDA began regularly
testing samples of ground beef for the pathogen. USDA, as part of its new hazard analysis
and critical control point (HACCP) rule, also now requires all meat and poultry slaughter
plants to regularly test carcasses for generic E. coli (as opposed to the 0157:H7 strain) in
order to verify that their sanitary systems are effectively controlling fecal contamination.
Easement — A landowner sells or surrenders the right to develop a portion of the property,
usually in return for a payment or some other benefit. Some local and state governments, and
land trusts, have programs to acquire development easements from landowners to prevent
conversion of farmland to other uses. Since the mid 1970s, conservation easements have
been purchased to protect nearly 420,000 acres of farmland in 15 states, primarily in the
EBT — Electronic benefit transfer
EC — European Community
ECARP — Environmental Conservation Acreage Reserve Program
Economic Research Service (ERS) — USDA’s in-house agricultural economics analysis
and research agency. It employs about 600 people and has an annual budget of about $53
Economies of size — The concept that the average cost of production per unit declines as
the size of the operation grows. One reason farms have been growing in size is to make more
economical use of machines capable of covering more ground with less labor, to capture
economies of size. Larger sized farms can typically get volume discounts on such inputs as
chemicals and seed.
Ecosystem — A functioning community of nature that includes fauna and flora together with
the chemical and physical environment with which they interact. Ecosystems vary greatly in
size and characteristics; an ecosystem can be a mud puddle, a field or orchard, or a forest.
An ecosystem provides a unit of biological study and can be a unit of management.
ECP — Emergency Conservation Program
EDF — Environmental Defense Fund
Edward R. Madigan U.S. Agricultural Export Excellence Award — An award
established by the FAIR Act of 1996 to recognize companies’ and other entities’
entrepreneurial efforts in the food and agricultural sector for advancing U.S. agricultural
EEP — Export Enhancement Program
EFAP — Emergency Food Assistance Program (formerly TEFAP); Emergency Feed
Assistance Program (See emergency livestock feed programs.)
Effluent — Waste, usually liquid, released or discharged to the environment. Generally the
term refers to point source discharges of sewage or contaminated wastewaters into surface
Effluent limitation — An EPA “standard of performance” reflecting the maximum degree
of discharge reduction achievable by the best available technology for various categories of
sources of water pollution. These categories include feedlots, grain mills, and several kinds
of food processing.
EFNEP — Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
EFP — Emergency Feed Program
EI — Erosion index
EIA — Environmental impact assessment; economic impact assessment
EID — Electronic identification devices
EIP — Export Incentive Program
EIR — Environmental impact report
EIS — Environmental impact statement
Elderly and disabled — For food stamp purposes: “elderly” persons are age 60 or older;
and “disabled” persons are beneficiaries of disability-based governmental assistance, such as
social security disability payments and certain veterans disability payments.
Electronic benefit transfer (EBT) systems — Under an EBT system, recipients are
issued an “ATM-like” card and a “personal identification number” (PIN) instead of food
stamp coupons. They access their food stamp benefits when purchasing food by using the
card at an approved retailer: “swiping” the card through a point-of-sale terminal and entering
their PIN. This electronically debits a “food stamp account” maintained for them (and is
replenished monthly) and credits the retailer with the purchase amount. States are permitted
to issue food stamp benefits through EBT systems, and, unless a waiver is granted, must use
EBT systems by 2002.
Elevator — A tall warehouse facility that uses vertical conveyors to raise or elevate grain,
generally owned privately or by an agricultural cooperative, where grain is stored before being
ELISA — Enzyme immunosorbant assay (test)
ELS — Extra-long staple (cotton)
ELS cotton — The abbreviation for extra-long staple cotton.
EM — Emergency disaster loans
EMAP — Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program
Embargo — A government-ordered prohibition or limitation on trade with another country.
Under an embargo, all trade, or selected goods and services, may be restricted. The Food
Security Act of 1985 states that U.S. policy is: (1) to foster and encourage agricultural
exports, (2) not to restrict or limit such exports except under the most compelling
circumstances, (3) that any prohibition or limitation on such exports should be imposed only
when the President declares a national emergency under the Export Administration Act,
and (4) that contracts to export agricultural commodities and products agreed upon before any
prohibition or limitation should not be abrogated. Whenever commercial export sales of an
agricultural commodity are suspended for reasons of short supply, but to a country with which
the United States continues commercial trade, the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977
requires USDA to set the commodity price support loan rate at 90% of the parity price.
The Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 contains contract
sanctity provisions that place constraints on the embargo of agricultural commodities from
the United States. The 1990 Act also: (1) provides for agricultural embargo protection that,
if certain conditions are met, compensates producers with payments if the President suspends
or restricts exports of a commodity for national security or foreign policy reasons, and (2)
requires USDA to develop plans to alleviate the adverse effects of embargoes if imposed. The
FAIR Act of 1996 requires USDA to compensate producers of a commodity, or
commodities, if the U.S. government imposes an export embargo on any country for national
security or foreign policy reasons, and if no other country joins the U.S. embargo within 90
days. Compensation may take the form of payments to producers or funds made available to
promote agricultural exports or food aid.
Emergency Conservation Program — A program administered by the Farm Service
Agency to help farmers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters by sharing in
the cost of rehabilitation.
Emergency Disaster (EM) Loan Program — When a county has been declared a
disaster area by either the President or the Secretary of Agriculture, farmers in that county
may become eligible for low-interest emergency disaster (EM) loans available through the
Farm Service Agency (formerly Farmers Home Administration). EM loan funds may be
used to help producers recover from production losses (when the producer suffers a significant
loss of an annual crop) or from physical losses (such as repairing or replacing damaged or
destroyed structures or equipment, or for the replanting of permanent crops such as orchards).
A qualified producer can then borrow up to 80% of the actual production loss or $500,000,
whichever is less, at a subsidized interest rate.
Emergency feeding agency — This refers to an organization serving the food needs of the
poor and unemployed that is designated by a state as eligible for commodities and
administrative support to distribute commodities or operate a meal service program under the
Emergency Food Assistance Program.
Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983 — P.L. 98-92 (September 2, 1983) amended
the original Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Act (TEFAA) of 1983 to
authorize multi-year funding and commodity donations from excess CCC inventories of
foodstuffs for food distribution by emergency feeding organizations serving the needy and
homeless. It subsequently was amended in 1985, 1988, 1990, and 1996 (under the FAIR
Act of 1996) and currently authorizes funding through FY2002 to buy and donate
commodities and to provide grants for state and local costs of transporting, storing, and
distributing them to emergency feeding organizations, soup kitchens, and food banks serving
low-income persons. In addition to discretionary funds authorized to be appropriated by this
law, the welfare reform law of 1996 required that $100 million of food stamp appropriations
be used annually to buy commodities for emergency feeding organizations.
Emergency Food Assistance and Soup Kitchen-Food Bank Program (EFAPSoup kitchens) — This program provides USDA commodities to emergency feeding
organizations to help with the food needs of low-income populations. It also authorizes
grants to states to help with the state and local costs of transporting, storing, and distributing
the commodities. In addition to authorizing funding to buy commodities for these programs,
the program also requires that $100 million of food stamp funds be used annually for that
purpose. The program is authorized through FY2002 by the Emergency Food Assistance
Act of 1983, as amended by the FAIR Act of 1996. Eligible agencies include food banks,
food pantries, soup kitchens, and public and private charitable agencies serving the poor.
States determine the agencies eligible to participate and set low-income standards for
Emergency livestock feed programs — The USDA was given permanent authority by
the Disaster Assistance Act of 1988 to implement an array of emergency livestock feed
programs. These programs were designed to assist livestock producers who lose a significant
amount of feed grown on the farm due to a natural disaster. The primary livestock feed
programs implemented by USDA were: (1) the Emergency Feed Assistance Program (EFAP),
which provided farmers who experienced a large loss of feed production with
government-owned grain at a subsidized price, and, (2) the Emergency Feed Program (EFP),
a cost-share program for farmers affected by a disaster who purchased their needed feed in
the marketplace. To meet mandated budget savings requirements, the FAIR Act of 1996
suspended these programs from the law through 2002.
Emergency Wetlands Reserve Program (EWRP) — Authorized in 1993 under
emergency supplemental appropriations to respond to widespread floods in the Midwest,
EWRP provided payments to purchase easements and partial financial assistance to
landowners who permanently restored wetlands at sites where the restoration costs exceeded
the land’s fair market value. EWRP was administered by Natural Resources Conservation
Service as part of its Emergency Watershed Program and operated in seven midwestern states.
Land in this program is considered to be a part of the land enrolled in the Wetland Reserve
Emerging Markets Program — A program originally authorized by the FACT Act of
1990, and titled the Emerging Democracies Program. The program was authorized to
promote U.S. agricultural exports by providing technical assistance and credits or credit
guarantees to emerging democracies annually for fiscal years 1991-95. Funds could be used
to establish or provide facilities, services, or U.S. products to improve handling, marketing,
storage, or distribution of imported agricultural products. The FAIR Act of 1996
reauthorized the program through 2002 and renamed it the Emerging Markets Program. The
program is retargeted to emerging markets (defined as countries that USDA determines are
taking steps toward market-oriented economies and have the potential to provide viable
markets for U.S. agricultural commodities). The Commodity Credit Corporation must make
available not less than $1 billion of direct credit or credit guarantees to emerging markets for
fiscal years 1996-2002, in addition to the amounts authorized for GSM-102/103.
Emission — Waste released or emitted to the environment. The term is commonly used in
referring to discharges of gases and particles to the atmosphere, i.e., air pollutants, and also
is used in referring to particles or energy released radioactively. Sometimes the term is used
broadly, encompassing any pollutant discharge.
Endangered species — Species of animals or plants likely to go extinct in the foreseeable
future unless current trends are altered. They are listed by regulation under the Endangered
Species Act and assigned the Act’s highest level of protection. Only scientific factors may
be taken into account in deciding whether to list a species as endangered, though economic
factors may be taken into account at other stages of the Act. See also threatened species.
For the legal definition, see Section 3 of the Act.
Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 — P.L. 93-205 (December 28, 1973), as
amended, is one of the major federal laws protecting species and the ecosystems on which
they depend. While states generally have primacy in wildlife law, this is one of a handful of
areas in which federal law plays the major role. ESA is administered primarily by the Fish
and Wildlife Service (and by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for certain
marine species). Under authority of this Act, species of plants and animals at risk of
extinction are listed as either “endangered” or “threatened” according to the degree of risk.
Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid the recovery of the species
and to protect its habitat. Over 1000 species of domestic animals and plants have been listed
as either endangered or threatened. The ESA has been controversial for two main reasons:
First, its standards of protection are substantive, rather than procedural, occasionally
preventing activities that would lead to the taking of an endangered or threatened species or
jeopardizing its continued existence. Thus, the protection of endangered salmon may result
in limitations on logging around spawning habitat. Even if a given activity is rarely prohibited
outright, mandatory changes or modifications of practices are not infrequent. Second, because
other laws often lack the strict substantive provisions that Congress included in the ESA
regarding taking of species, critical habitat, and avoidance of jeopardy, the ESA often
becomes a battleground by default over larger controversies concerning resource scarcities and
altered ecosystems. Like the miners’ canaries, endangered species have flagged controversies
over the Tellico Dam (hydropower development versus farmland protection and tribal graves,
as well as the snail darter); northwest timber harvest (protection of logging jobs and
communities versus commercial and sport fishing, recreation, and ecosystem protection, as
well as salmon and spotted owls); and the Edwards Aquifer (allocation of water among
various users with differing short- and long-term interests, with a few spring-dependent
species caught in the cross-fire). Farmers, ranchers, and loggers can be affected by ESA in
various ways, depending on the particular listed species, the locale, the nature and health of
the ecosystem, the ownership of the land, etc. On federal land, ESA may require land
managers to restrict or modify resource uses to protect listed species; on private land, ESA
prohibits takings and requires agencies providing any Federal service--such as permitting,
increasing irrigation flows, or loans--to ensure the action will not adversely affect critical
Endocrine disruptor — A chemical agent that interferes with natural hormones in the
body. Hormones are secreted by endocrine glands (such as the pituitary, thyroid, pancreas,
ovary, and testis), are transported through the body in the bloodstream, and regulate body
growth and metabolism, other endocrine organs, and reproductive functions. There is
emerging concern that endocrine disruptors may be causing human health or ecological
effects, such as abnormal thyroid function, decreased fertility, and alteration of immune and
behavioral function. This concern arises from demonstrated instances (an example is the
ability of diethylstilbestrol (DES) to disrupt female reproductive function through the
lifespan in laboratory animals and humans) and the fact that hormones are biologically active
at very low concentrations (at parts per billion or less), so low levels of disruptors may
similarly be biologically active. In amendments to the Safe Drink Water Act and the
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act in 1996, Congress directed
EPA to study endocrine disruptors. The outcome of this research will be of consequence to
agriculture because some pesticides and animal growth stimulants have been hypothesized to
act as endocrine disruptors.
Environment — The totality of the surrounding external conditions—biological, chemical,
and physical—within which an organism, community, or object exists. The term is not
exclusive in that organisms can be and usually are part of another organism’s environment.
Thus one can speak of the environment as that within which humankind lives, i.e., separate
and external; or, one can speak of humankind as a component of the environment.
Environmental Conservation Acreage Reserve Program (ECARP) — An umbrella
program authorized by the FACT Act of 1990 that includes the Conservation Reserve
Program, and the Wetland Reserve Program. The FAIR Act of 1996 continues the
CRP and WRP and creates the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The goal
of the ECARP is to provide long-term protection of environmentally sensitive land. Contracts,
easements, and cost-share payments are used to assist landowners and operators of farms and
ranches to conserve and enhance soil, water, and related natural resources, including grazing
land, wetland, and wildlife habitat.
Environmental equity/ justice — Equal protection from environmental hazards for
individuals, groups, or communities regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status. This
applies to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws,
regulations, and policies, and implies that no population of people should be forced to
shoulder a disproportionate share of adverse impacts of pollution.
Environmental impact statement (EIS) — A document required of federal agencies by
the National Environmental Policy Act for major projects or legislative proposals
significantly affecting the environment. A tool for decision making, it describes the positive
and negative effects of the undertaking and assesses alternative actions.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — An independent federal government
agency established in 1970 and charged with coordinating effective governmental action
concerning the environment, including setting standards, promulgating and enforcing
regulations, and initiating and implementing environmental programs. Two areas of
jurisdiction that most directly affect agricultural production are the registration of pesticides
and enforcement of water quality laws. http://www.epa.gov/epahome/
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) — A program created by the
FAIR Act of 1996 to provide primarily cost-sharing assistance, but also technical and
educational assistance, aimed at reducing soil, water, and related natural resource problems.
The program replaces the Agricultural Conservation Program, the Water Quality
Incentives Program, the Great Plains Conservation Program, and the Colorado
River Basin Salinity Control Program. EQIP is authorized at $1.3 billion in mandatory
spending over 7 years (total), with at least half of the funding targeted to environmental
concerns associated with livestock production; spending in general is to be targeted to statedesignated priority areas. EQIP is to be operated to maximize the environmental benefits
per dollar expended.
EPA — Environmental Protection Agency
Epidemiology — Study of the distribution of disease, or other health-related conditions and
events in human or animal populations, in order to identify health problems and possible
EQIP — Environmental Quality Incentives Program
Equivalence — A term applied by the Uruguay Round Agreement on the Application of
Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures. WTO Member countries shall accord
acceptance to the SPS measures of other countries (even if those measures differ from their
own or from those used by other Member countries trading in the same product) if the
exporting country demonstrates to the importing country that its measures achieve the
importer's appropriate level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection.
Erosion — The wearing away of the land surface. Unconsolidated materials, such as soil,
erode more rapidly than consolidated materials, such as rock. The most common causes of
erosion are wind and moving water. The susceptibility of soil to erosion is quantified by the
erosion index. Water causes sheet, rill, and gully erosion.
Erosion (erodibility) index (EI) — The erosion (sometimes called erodibility) index is
created by dividing potential erosion (from all sources except gully erosion) by the “T”
value, which is the rate of soil erosion above which long term productivity may be adversely
affected. The erodibility index is used in the conservation compliance and
Conservation Reserve Programs. For example, one of the eligibility requirements for
the CRP is that land have an EI greater than 8.
ERS — Economic Research Service
ESA — Endangered Species Act; environmentally sensitive area
Estuary — Regions of interaction between rivers and near-shore ocean waters, where tidal
action and river flow mix fresh and salt water. Such areas include bays, mouths of rivers, salt
marshes, and lagoons. These brackish water ecosystems shelter and feed marine life, birds,
and wildlife. Estuaries typically include adjoining wetlands.
Ethanol — C2H50H; the alcohol product of carbohydrate fermentation used in alcoholic
beverages and for industrial purposes (also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol). It is
blended with gasoline to make gasohol. In the 1997/98 corn marketing year, about 485
million bushels of corn were used to produce about 1.2 billion gallons of ethanol.
EU — European Union
EUP — Experimental use permit
European Community (EC) — A regional organization created by the Treaty of Rome
(1957), which provided for the gradual elimination of customs duties and other interregional
trade barriers, a common external tariff, and gradual adoption of other integrating measures,
including the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and guarantees of free movement of
labor and capital. Of the current 15 member countries, the original six were Belgium, France,
West German, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Membership expanded to include
Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 1973; Greece in 1981; Spain and Portugal in
1986; and Austria, Finland, and Sweden in 1995. In 1993, with establishment of the
European Union (EU), the EC became the customs union component of the EU.
European Currency Unit (ECU) — The official unit of account of the European
Monetary System. It is a combination or basket of the currencies from the twelve European
Union countries — the Deutschemark, French franc, British pound sterling, Irish pound,
Italian lira, Belgian franc, Dutch guilder, Luxembourg franc, Greek drachma, Spanish peseta,
Portuguese escudo, and the Danish krona.
European Union (EU) — Since 1993, the term used to describe the European
Community and related institutions. The entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty of
European Union on November 1, 1993, introduced this change in terminology regarding the
EC and many of its institutions.
Eutrophication — The process by which a body of water acquires a high concentration of
plant nutrients, especially nitrates or phosphates. This nutrification promotes algae growth
that, when it dies, can lead to the depletion of dissolved oxygen, killing fish and other
aquatic organisms. While eutrophication is a natural, slow-aging process for a body of water,
human activities can greatly accelerate the process.
Evans-Allen funds — Federal funds distributed to the 1890 land grant colleges of
agriculture under a provision in the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and
Teaching Policy Act of 1977, to support research programs. The provision became
known by the names of two of its primary proponents in Congress, Representative Frank
Evans of Colorado and Representative James Allen of Alabama.
Evapotranspiration — The loss of water from the soil both by evaporation and by
transpiration from the plants growing in the soil.
EWG — Environmental Working Group
EWP — Emergency Watershed Protection Program
Excess land — Irrigable land, other than exempt land, owned by any landowner in excess
of the maximum acreage limitation (ownership entitlement) under the applicable provision
of reclamation law.
Exotic species — A species that is not indigenous to a region.
Expense deductions (for food stamps) — For purposes of calculating a household’s
food stamp benefit, certain household expenses are “deducted” from total monthly cash
income when calculating the household’s net income: (1) 20% of any earnings (to recognize
taxes, social security contributions, and work expenses and encourage work), (2) dependent
care expenses necessary for work or training (up to $200 a month for children under age 2 and
$175 a month for other dependents), (3) legally obligated child support payments, (5) any
medical expenses (other than those related to special diets) above $35 a month for elderly or
disabled persons, and (6) any shelter expenses (including utilities and insurance) above a
certain proportion of the household’s monthly income. The larger these deductions are, the
greater the household’s food stamp benefit.
Experimental use permit — A permit under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and
Rodenticide Act that authorizes the testing of new pesticides or uses thereof in experimental
field studies on 10 acres or more of land or one acre or more of water. Such tests provide data
to support registration of pesticides.
Export Administration Act of 1979 — P.L. 96-72 (September 29, 1979) provided legal
authority to the President to control U.S. exports for reasons of national security, foreign
policy, and/or short supply. However, the FACT Act of 1990 (P.L.101-624) provides for
contract sanctity by prohibiting the President from restricting the export of any agricultural
commodity already under contract for delivery within 270 days from the date the embargo
is imposed, except during national emergency or war. With the Act’s expiration in August
1994, the President (exercising authority under the International Emergency Economic
Powers Act) issued an executive order to continue the 1979 Act’s export control regulations.
Export allocations or quotas — Controls applied to exports by an exporting country to
limit the amount of goods leaving that country. Such controls usually are applied in time of
war or during some other emergency requiring conservation of domestic supplies, as well as
to advance foreign policy and national security objectives of the exporting country. The
European Union, in 1996, used a licensing system to allocate and restrict exports of wheat
because of short supplies and high prices.
Export Credit Guarantee Programs (GSM-102/103) — The Commodity Credit
Corporation finances export credit guarantee programs for commercial financing of U.S.
agricultural exports. The programs finance the sale of exports to buyers in countries where
credit is needed but where financing may not be available without CCC guarantees. Two
programs back up credit extended by private banks in the United States (or in some instances
by the U.S. exporter) to approved foreign banks using dollar-denominated letters of credit to
pay for food and agricultural products sold to foreign buyers. The Export Credit Guarantee
Program (GSM-102) guarantees credit terms up to 3 years. The Intermediate Export Credit
Guarantee Program (GSM-103) guarantees longer term credits up to 10 years. Under these
programs, the CCC does not provide financing, but guarantees payments due from foreign
banks. Typically, 98% of principal and a portion of interest at an adjustable rate is covered.
Because repayment is guaranteed, U.S. financial institutions can offer credit on competitive
terms to foreign banks, usually with interest rates based on the London Inter-Bank Offered
Export credit revolving fund — The Agriculture and Food Act of 1981 authorized
a revolving loan fund that would provide short-term and intermediate-term direct credit for
export sales of agricultural commodities, breeding animals, and handling facilities in
developing markets. Once capitalized, loans would be made from the initial fund and
repayments of principal and interest would return to the fund to be revolved as new loans.
Money was never appropriated to capitalize the revolving fund and its statutory authority was
eliminated in the FACT Act of 1990.
Export Enhancement Program (EEP) — A program initiated in May 1985 under the
CCC Charter Act to help U.S. exporters meet competitors’ subsidized prices in targeted
markets. The program was later authorized by the Food Security Act of 1985; the FACT
Act of 1990; the Uruguay Round Agreements Act; and the FAIR Act of 1996.
Under the EEP, exporters are awarded cash payments, which enable an exporter to sell certain
commodities to specified countries at competitive prices. The FAIR Act of 1996 caps EEP
program levels annually through 2002 and allows USDA, under certain conditions, to target
up to $100 million annually for the sale of intermediate-value products.
Export Incentive Program (EIP) — A federal export promotion effort operated by the
Foreign Agricultural Service of USDA. Assistance is provided to private firms to help them
promote brand name food items in overseas markets. EIP is administered as part of the
Market Access Program.
Export licenses — A government document authorizing the export of specific goods in
specific quantities to a particular destination. Licenses may be required to export to some
countries for most or all goods, and for other countries only under special circumstances. The
Office of Export Administration in the Department of Commerce administers the export
licensing system under the authority of the Export Administration Act.
Export PIK — A program used in the 1980s that made payment-in-kind to U.S.
exporters as export subsidies for surplus commodities.
Export subsidy — A direct or indirect compensation provided by government to private
commercial firms to promote exports of domestic products. Article 16 of the GATT considers
that export subsidies are unfair competition and allows countervailing duties to be
imposed on subsidized products. Indirect methods of export subsidization include government
subsidized financing for exports, export promotion and information activities, tax benefits, or
other forms of assistance that may lead to lower than normal costs for exported products. The
Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture imposes limits on agricultural export subsidies.
Exposure assessment — Identifying the pathways by which toxicants may reach
individuals, estimating how much of a chemical various individuals are likely to be exposed
to, and estimating the number likely to be exposed at each level.
Extension Service — Refers to a nationwide continuing education system that is based on
the academic programs of the land grant colleges of agriculture (see Cooperative
Extension System). The term also is the former name of the USDA agency that distributes
federal funds to the states under the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 to carry out Extension
programs. The 1994 USDA reorganization merged this agency with the Cooperative State
Research Service (CSRS) to form the Cooperative State Research, Education, and
Extra-long staple (ELS) cotton — Also called American Pima, this cotton has a staple
length of 1-3/8" or more, is characterized by fineness and high fiber strength, and is used in
high-value products such as sewing thread and expensive apparel. It is grown chiefly in west
Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
Extra-Long Staple Cotton Act of 1983 — P.L. 98-88 (August 26, 1983) eliminated
marketing quotas and allotments for extra-long staple cotton and tied its support to upland
cotton through a formula that set the nonrecourse loan rate at not less than 150% of the
upland cotton loan level.
F.O.B — Free on board
Free on board (F.O.B. or f.o.b.) — Indicates that the seller assumes all responsibilities
and costs up to the specific point or stage of delivery named including transportation, packing,
insuring, etc. A wide variety of f.o.b. terms is used, such as f.o.b. factor Detroit, f.o.b. cars
New York, f.o.b. ship Norfolk. “Free on board vessel,” under most P.L. 480 grain contracts,
means delivery at the discharge end of the loading spout.
FAC — Food and Agriculture Council; Food Aid Convention
FACA — Federal Advisory Committee Act
FACT — Food Animal Concerns Trust
FACT Act of 1990 — Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990;
the omnibus 1990 farm bill.
Failed acreage — Tracts of properly-planted and managed crops that did not grow or were
destroyed due to a natural disaster. Failed acreage is eligible for indemnification if covered
by the federal crop insurance program.
Fair market value (FMV) — The amount in cash, or on terms reasonably equivalent to
cash, for which in all probability something might be sold by a knowledgeable owner to a
knowledgeable purchaser. Several federal statutes state that the federal government should
receive fair market value when exchanging or selling federal lands and resources.
FAIR Act of 1996 — Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996;
the 1996 omnibus farm bill.
Fallow cropland — Cropland left idle during the growing season, sometimes called
summer fallow. It may be tilled or sprayed to control weeds and conserve moisture in the
soil. The amount of cultivated summer fallow has ranged between 22 and 32 million acres
over the past 10 years, or 7 to 10% of the cropland used for crops.
FAMC — Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac)
Family farm — As defined by USDA regulations, a farm that (1) produces agricultural
commodities for sale in such quantities so as to be recognized in the community as a farm and
not a rural residence; (2) produces enough income (including off-farm employment) to pay
family and farm operating expenses, pay debts, and maintain the property; (3) is managed by
the operator; (4) has a substantial amount of labor provided by the operator and the operator’s
family; and (5) may use seasonal labor during peak periods and a reasonable amount of
full-time hired labor.
FAO — Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FAPRI — Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute
Farm — As defined for purposes of the Census of Agriculture since 1978, a farm is any
place that has, or has the potential to produce, $1,000 or more in annual gross sales of farm
products. According to the 1992 Census of Agriculture, there are about 1.925 million farms
in the United States. This number includes all farm sizes and ownership structures,
including corporate farms, partnerships, and family farms.
FARM — Farm Animal Reform Movement
Farm acreage base — The total of the crop acreage bases (wheat, feed grains, cotton,
and rice) for a farm for a year, the average acreage planted to soybeans and other
non-program crops, and the average acreage devoted to conserving uses (excluding Acreage
Reduction Program land). The FAIR Act of 1996 eliminated the need to calculate a
farm acreage base.
Farm bill — A phrase that refers to a multi-year federal commodity support law. It usually
amends some and suspends many provisions of permanent law, reauthorizes, amends, or
repeals provisions of preceding temporary agricultural acts, and puts forth new policy
provisions for a limited time into the future. Beginning in 1973, farm bills have included titles
on commodity programs, trade, rural development, farm credit, conservation, agricultural
research, food and nutrition programs, marketing, etc. These are referred to as omnibus farm
bills. The most recent omnibus farm bill was the FAIR Act of 1996, with many of its
provisions being effective through the year 2002. The previous omnibus farm bill was the
FACT Act of 1990.
Farm Credit Act of 1971 — P.L. 92-181 (December 10, 1971) recodified all previous acts
governing the Farm Credit System (FCS, or System), a cooperatively owned government
sponsored enterprise that provides credit primarily to farmers and ranchers. The Act
eliminated earlier provisions relating to government capitalization of the System, and
expanded the lending authorities of many System institutions. The Act, as amended, currently
serves as the authorizing statute for the Farm Credit System. Major legislation that has
modified the 1971 Act in recent years include: Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 (P.L.
100-233, January 6, 1988) authorized up to $4 billion in federal financial assistance to FCS
institutions to assist in their recovery from the agricultural credit crisis of the 1980s. The Act
created a System entity to issue up to $4 billion in federally guaranteed bonds, required the
U.S. Treasury to pay a portion of the interest on these bonds, and also required the FCS to
ultimately repay the Treasury for this assistance. The Act also mandated the merger of certain
System banks within each farm credit district and expanded other merger authorities, and gave
delinquent FCS borrowers certain rights. A separate System institution was established by
the Act to insure the timely repayment of principal and interest on consolidated Systemwide
debt issues. Farm Credit Banks and Associations Safety and Soundness Act of
1992 (P.L. 102-552, October 28, 1992) was designed to enhance the financial safety and
soundness of FCS banks and associations by establishing new mechanisms to ensure
repayment of Farm Credit System debt resulting from federal financial assistance provided
to the System under the 1987 Act. The Farm Credit System Reform Act of 1996 (P.L.
104-105, February 10, 1996) includes numerous provisions that provide regulatory relief for
Farm Credit Administration (FCA) — The independent federal regulator responsible
for examining and insuring the safety and soundness of all Farm Credit System
institutions. The FCA is governed by a 3-member, Presidentially-appointed board of
directors, one of whom serves as chairman.
Farm Credit Banks — Institutions within the Farm Credit System (FCS) that make
direct long-term agricultural loans secured by farm real estate through Federal Land Bank
Associations. They provide wholesale loan funds to direct FCS lending associations —
Production Credit Associations, Federal Land Credit Associations, and
Agricultural Credit Associations.
Farm Credit System (FCS) — A network of cooperatively owned lending institutions and
related service organizations serving all 50 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The
FCS specializes in providing farm real estate and rural homeowner loans, operating credit, and
related services to farmers, ranchers, and producers or harvesters of aquatic products. The
FCS may also finance the processing and marketing activities of these borrowers, certain
farm-related businesses, and agricultural, aquatic, and public utility cooperatives. It is
chartered under authorities in the Farm Credit Act of 1971, as amended, but does not
receive any direct government funding. The System provides about one-fourth of the total
credit used by U.S. farmers, ranchers, and cooperatives. Historically, the FCS consisted of
a Federal Land Bank (FLB), a Federal Intermediate Credit Bank (FICB) and a Bank for
Cooperatives (BC) in each of the 12 districts across the nation. Within each district, Federal
Land Bank Associations (FLBA) and Production Credit Associations (PCA) served as local
lenders for the FCS providing farm real estate and operating credit, respectively. A severe
financial crisis led to the enactment of the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, which
provided federal financial assistance to weak institutions in the FCS, but required the FCS to
streamline its operations as a condition for assistance. As a result, each district was required
to merge its FLB and FICB to form a Farm Credit Bank (FCB). For FLBAs and PCAs
that share a similar geographical territory, stockholders were given the option of merging
institutions to form an Agricultural Credit Association (ACA). The Central Bank for
Cooperatives and 10 of the 12 BCs also agreed to a merger forming a National Bank for
Farm Credit System Assistance Board — A temporary board created by the
Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 and responsible for approving Farm Credit System
lender requests for federal financial assistance. Members of the Board consisted of the
Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Treasury (or their appointees), and an agricultural
producer with financial experience.
Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation (FCSIC) — An entity of the Farm
Credit System (FCS), established by law in 1987, to insure the timely repayment of
principal and interest on FCS debt securities.
Farm equity — The net worth of the farm sector’s assets (i.e., farmland, machinery,
equipment, facilities, crop and livestock inventories) against which there is no debt. This
represents all farm proprietors’ residual claims to farm assets. Increases in farm equity in the
late 1970s became increasingly important for most agricultural producers as a source of
additional collateral against which to obtain credit for operating and expansion purposes. The
level of farm equity ranges widely from one farm to another and reflects the extent to which
an individual producer has borrowed.
Farm income — Several measures are used to gauge the earnings of a farming operation
over a given period of time: Gross cash income is the sum of all receipts from the sale of
crops, livestock, and farm related goods and services as well as all forms of direct payments
from the government. Gross farm income is the same as gross cash income with the
addition of nonmoney income, such as the value of home consumption of self-produced food
and the imputed gross rental value of farm dwellings. Net cash income is gross cash
income less all cash expenses such as for feed, seed, fertilizer, property taxes, interest on debt,
wages to hired labor, contract labor and rent to nonoperator landlords. Net farm income
is gross farm income less cash expenses and noncash expenses, such as capital consumption,
perquisites to hired labor, and farm household expenses. Net farm income is a longer term
measure of the ability of the farm to survive as a viable income-earning business, while net
cash income is a shorter term measure of cash flow.
Farm income and balance sheet — The income statement measures the profitability of
a farm business for a particular period of time, usually one year. The balance sheet measures
the wealth or financial position of the business at a particular point in time by reporting the
farm’s assets, debt, and net worth. USDA publishes annually its Economic Indicators of the
Farm Sector, National Financial Summary which summarizes the income statement and
balance sheet of the nation’s farm sector, and a State Financial Summary containing each
state’s financial statements.
Farm inputs — The resources that are used in farm production, such as chemicals,
equipment, feed, seed, and energy. Most farm inputs are purchased (a change from the days
when animals powered most operations), making production costs susceptible to nonfarm
economic conditions. Over time, prices of farm inputs have increased relative to commodity
prices, creating what farmers describe as a cost-price squeeze. The relationship between
prices paid for inputs compared to prices received for output is quantified in the parity ratio.
Farm loan programs of the FSA — Loan programs, administered by the Farm Service
Agency (replacing FmHA), providing both direct and guaranteed real estate, operating loans,
and direct emergency disaster loans to individuals whose primary business is farming and
ranching. Loans are targeted to family farms whose operators are unable to obtain
sufficient credit from private commercial lenders on reasonable terms. Under the FAIR Act
of 1996, farm lending programs are permanently reauthorized, with new restrictions on the
purposes for which loans can be used and on the length of time borrowers are eligible for new
credit assistance. Provisions are extended that reserve a portion of loan funds for new and
Farm labor housing grants — Section 516 grants are available through the Rural
Housing Service to qualified nonprofit organizations to providing housing to farm workers.
Farm labor housing loans — Section 514 loans are available through the Rural
Housing Service to qualified farm owners for the purpose of providing housing to
domestic farm labor.
Farm Operating (OL) Loans — Subtitle B of the Consolidated Farm and Rural
Development Act, as amended, authorizes the Farm Service Agency (formerly FmHA)
to make direct and guaranteed farm operating loans. Applicants must be family-sized farmers,
who are denied credit by private and cooperative sources, and have reasonable prospects for
success in the farm operation. Operating loans are made to farmers to help them pay their
operating expenses for such productions costs as feed, seed, fertilizer, and pesticides, and to
meet other essential operating expenses. The loan limit is $200,000 for a direct loan and
$400,000 for a guaranteed loan, and the scheduled repayment is usually over 1 to 7 years
depending on loan purposes. The interest rate on direct loans is determined by the Farm
Service Agency and does not exceed the federal cost of borrowing plus 1 percentage point.
However, loans to “limited resource” borrowers can be made at significantly below market
rates. The interest rate on guaranteed loans is negotiated between the borrower and the lender.
USDA guarantees the timely repayment of 90% of principal and interest on guaranteed loans,
and in some cases can subsidize the interest rate on these loans. The amount USDA can
directly lend or guarantee each year is determined in the annual congressional appropriations
Farm operator — A person who operates a farm, either by doing or supervising the work
or by making the day-to-day management decisions. Nationally, farm operators own about
57% of their land and lease or rent the remainder.
Farm ownership (FO) loans — Subtitle A of the Consolidated Farm and Rural
Development Act, as amended, authorizes the Farm Service Agency (formerly FmHA)
to make direct and guaranteed farm ownership loans to eligible family farmers. One of the
functions of the FO loan program is to assist farmers, especially beginning farmers, in the
purchase and enlargement of farms. An eligible borrower must be unable to obtain sufficient
credit from a commercial lender, but must assure reasonable prospects of success in the farm
operation. Loans are made for up to 40 years and cannot exceed $200,000 for a direct loan,
or $300,000 for a guaranteed loan. The interest rate for a direct loan is determined by USDA,
and cannot exceed the cost of funds to the Government plus 1 percentage point. However,
direct loans to “limited resource” borrowers can be made at significantly below the federal
cost of funds. The interest rate on guaranteed loans is negotiated between the borrower and
the lender. USDA guarantees the timely repayment of 90% of principal and interest on
guaranteed loans, and in some cases can subsidize the interest rate on these loans. The
amount USDA can directly lend or guarantee each year is determined in the annual
congressional appropriations process.
Farm price — The price farmers receive for the commodities they market. Sometimes the
term farm-gate price is used to emphasize that the price does not include transportation or
Farm programs — This term is generally meant to include the commodity programs
administered by the Farm Service Agency, as well as the other USDA programs that
directly benefit farmers. Some examples of the other programs include farm loans, federal
crop insurance, the noninsured assistance program (NAP), the Conservation
Reserve Program (CRP), and conservation cost sharing.
Farm Service Agency (FSA) — One result of the 1994 legislative reorganization of
USDA was the consolidation of the ASCS, FCIC and FmHA into a single agency, the FSA.
This agency is responsible for administering farm income-support programs, conservation
cost-sharing programs, noninsured crop assistance (NAP), and the former FmHA farm
loan programs. FSA services are provided through field service centers located
throughout the agricultural areas of the nation. http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/default.asp
Farm size — Although a standard definition is not available, the most common way to
measure farm size is by the value of gross farm sales. USDA defines small farms as those
having less than $50,000 in sales annually, representing 73% of the 2.1 million farms counted
in 1992. It considers the remaining 27% of all farms (with sales of $50,000 or more) to be
commercial farms. Although the 558,000 commercial farms counted in 1992 were a relatively
small portion of all farms, they accounted for 88% of gross farm sales.
Farm to retail price spread — The difference between the farm price and the retail price
of food, reflecting charges for processing, shipping, and retailing farm goods. The current
spread accounts for about three-fourths of the retail price for a market basket of foods,
according to USDA. The farm value accounts for about 51% of the retail cost of eggs,
compared to 19% for processed fruits and vegetables.
Farmed wetland — Under the swampbuster program, these are wetlands that were
partially drained or altered to improve crop production before swampbuster was enacted as
part of the December 23, 1985, farm law. Farmed wetlands may be farmed as they were
before the 1985 date, and the drainage that was in place before that date can be maintained,
but no additional drainage is allowed.
Farmer Mac (Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation) — Created by the
Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 as a federally chartered, private corporation responsible
for guaranteeing the timely repayment of principal and interest to investors in a new
agricultural secondary market. The secondary market allows a lending institution to sell a
qualified farm real estate loan to an agricultural mortgage marketing facility, or pooler, which
packages these loans, and sells to investors securities that are backed by, or represent interests
in, the pooled loans. Farmer Mac guarantees the timely repayment of principal and interest
on these securities and, under authorities granted in 1995, can also serve as a loan pooler.
Farmer-Owned Grain Reserve (FOR) — A program, established under the Food and
Agriculture Act of 1977, designed to buffer sharp price movements and to provide reserves
against production shortfalls by allowing wheat and feed grain farmers to participate in a
subsidized grain storage program. Farmers who placed their grain in storage received an
extended nonrecourse loan for at least 3 years. Under certain conditions, interest on the loan
could be waived and farmers could receive annual storage payments from the government.
The FAIR Act of 1996 repealed this program.
Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) — Formerly an agency of USDA that
provided direct and guaranteed credit to family-sized farmers who were denied credit by a
commercial lender. The 1994 USDA reorganization transferred FmHA’s farm loan
programs to the newly formed Farm Service Agency.
Farmers Market Nutrition Program — Authorized through FY1998 under Section 17
of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, this program provides funding for grants to selected
states that develop programs promoting the use of farmers markets by WIC recipients.
Farmland — Land used for agricultural purposes. The federal government recognizes
prime farmland and unique farmland as the most important categories. According to
USDA, the United States has had roughly 1 billion acres of farmland. Farmland consists of
cropland, pastureland, and grazing land.
Farmland protection — Programs, operated mostly at state and local levels by government
agencies or private entities such as land trusts, that are designed to limit conversion of
agricultural land to other uses that otherwise might have been more financially attractive to
the landowner. Every state has at least one such program; the most popular programs are tax
relief through preferential or differential assessment, and right-to-farm laws. Easements are
used in some states.
Farmland Protection Program (FPP) — A program established by the FAIR Act of
1996 to fund the purchase of conservation easements of 170,000-340,000 acres of land
having prime or unique soil or other desirable production qualities that are threatened by
urban development. Eligibility depends upon already having a pending offer from a state or
local government to protect qualifying land by limiting nonagricultural use. USDA is
authorized to use up to $35 million of funds from the CCC. During the first year of operation,
USDA awarded almost $15 million to 18 states to protect an estimated 50,000 acres of
Farrow-to-finish — Typically, a confinement operation where pigs are bred and raised to
their slaughter weight, usually 200-250 pounds. Facilities that have 2,500 or more swine are
considered by the EPA to be a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) subject
to point source pollution permit requirements.
FAS — Foreign Agricultural Service
FASEB — Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biologies
FASFAS — Federation of American Societies of Food Animal Sciences
Fast track authority — A legislative procedure that may be adopted by Congress for
considering bills to implement trade agreements. The procedure calls for consultation between
the President and Congress as trade agreements are negotiated. Normally, once an
implementing bill is introduced, it may not be amended, time for debate is limited, and the bill
is subject to an up or down vote.
FB — Farm Bureau (American Farm Bureau Federation)
FCA — Farm Credit Administration
FCB — Farm Credit Bank
FCC — Farm Credit Council
FCIC — Federal Crop Insurance Corporation
FCS — Farm Credit System; Food and Consumer Service
FCSIC — Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation
FDA — Food and Drug Administration
FDPIR — Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
Fecal coliform bacteria — Bacteria found in the intestinal tracts of mammals. Their
presence in water or sludge is an indicator of pollution and possible contamination by
Fed cattle — Animals leaving a feedlot, after fattening on a high protein ration, that are
ready to be sold to a packing plant for slaughter. Beef cattle are typically sold to packers
at about 1,100 pounds, which yields a carcass weight of about 660 pounds.
Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation — An organization more commonly
referred to as Farmer Mac, which is a secondary (resale) market for agricultural mortgages.
Farmer Mac was authorized by the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 (JW)
Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act of 1996 — P.L. 104127 (April 4, 1996) was the omnibus 1996 farm bill that removed the link between income
support payments and farm prices. It authorized 7-year production flexibility contract
payments that provide participating producers with fixed government payments independent
of current farm prices and production. The law specifies the total amount of money to be
made available through contract payments under production flexibility contracts for each
fiscal year from 1996 through 2002. Payment levels are allocated among contract
commodities according to specified percentages, generally derived from each commodity’s
share of projected deficiency payments for fiscal 1996-2002. The law increases planting
flexibility by allowing participants to plant 100% of their total contract acreage to any
crop, except with limitations on fruits and vegetables. The authority for acreage reduction
programs is eliminated, while nonrecourse loans (with marketing loan repayment
provisions) are continued in a modified form. Minimum loan rates generally are calculated
each year at 85% of recent past market prices. Authority for the Farmer-Owned Reserve
Program is suspended through the 2002 crop year. Authority for the honey program is
eliminated. Dairy price supports are phased down for milk over 4 years and then eliminated.
A new recourse loan program is initiated for dairy products starting in the year 2000. The
peanut program is continued but revised to reduce the likelihood of the federal government
incurring loan program costs due to loan forfeitures. The minimum national poundage quota
is eliminated. The sugar program also is continued but modified. Trade and food aid
programs are reoriented toward greater market development, with increased emphasis on highvalue and value-added products. Other provisions establish a Commission to conduct a
comprehensive review of changes to production agriculture under the 1996 Act, require
USDA to conduct research on futures and options contracts through pilot programs, cap
expenditures for the Export Enhancement Program, and change the name of the Market
Promotion Program to the Market Access Program. The 1996 Act also reauthorizes the
Food Stamp Program for 2 years and commodity donation programs for 7 years, and
establishes a Fund for Rural America to augment existing resources for agricultural
research and rural development. Other research authorities were revised and extended, some
only for 2 years rather than 7 years. The 1996 Act authorized new enrollments in the
Conservation Reserve Program to maintain total acreage at up to 36.4 million acres.
Other conservation programs were also revised and extended. The Act also contains
numerous provisions in the areas of farm credit, rural development, and generic commodity
promotion through check-off programs, among others.
Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) — The wholly owned federal
corporation within USDA that administers the Federal Crop Insurance Program. The
FAIR Act of 1996 created an Office Of Risk Management (which USDA has renamed the
Risk Management Agency), which houses the FCIC. http://www.act.fcic.usda.gov/
Federal Crop Insurance Program — A subsidized multiperil insurance program,
administered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency, which provides farmers with a means
to manage the risk of crop losses resulting from natural disasters. Administrative funds are
appropriated by Congress and a portion of the insurance premium cost is federally subsidized.
Federal crop insurance is available for about 60 different crops, although not all insurable
crops are covered in every county. With the amendments to the Federal Crop Insurance
Act made by the Federal Crop Insurance Reform Act of 1994, USDA was authorized
to offer basically “free” catastrophic (CAT) coverage to producers who grow an insurable
crop. Farmers must sign a waiver foregoing any federal disaster assistance if they decline
CAT coverage. For an additional premium, farmers can buy additional coverage beyond the
CAT level. Crops for which insurance is not available are protected under the Noninsured
Assistance Program (NAP).
Federal Crop Insurance Reform Act of 1994 — This Act is Title I of P.L. 103-354
(October 4, 1994). Beginning with the 1995 crops, it modified the Federal Crop
Insurance Program by authorizing a new catastrophic (CAT) coverage level available
to farmers. The premium on this level of coverage (crop losses in excess of 50% receiving
a payment of 60% of the market price of the insured crop) is 100% subsidized by the
government, but requires a farmer to pay a $50 per crop per county administrative fee. The
Act allows farmers to purchase additional insurance coverage providing higher yield or price
protection levels, with the premium on this buyup coverage partially subsidized by the
government. The Act also created the Noninsured Assistance Program (NAP), a
permanent disaster payment program for crops not covered by crop insurance. The 1994 Act
amended and in many cases superseded major portions of the Federal Crop Insurance
Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-365, September 26, 1980) which serves as the authorizing statute for
the federal crop insurance program. The 1980 Act expanded the scope of the crop insurance
program and permitted USA to subsidize farmer premium payments.
Federal Farm Credit Banks Funding Corporation (FFCBFC) — An entity within
the Farm Credit System (FCS) that manages and coordinates the sale of system-wide
bonds and notes in the national financial markets. Since the FCS, by law, is not permitted to
accept customer deposits, these bonds and notes are the FCS’s primary source of loanable
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) of 1938 — P.L. 75-717 (June 25,
1938) is the basic authority intended to ensure that foods are pure and wholesome, safe to eat,
and produced under sanitary conditions; that drugs and devices are safe and effective for their
intended uses; that cosmetics are safe and made from appropriate ingredients; and that all
labeling and packaging is truthful, informative, and not deceptive. The Food and Drug
Administration is primarily responsible for enforcing the FFDCA, although USDA also
has some enforcement responsibility. The EPA establishes limits for concentrations of
pesticide residues on food under this Act.
Federal grain inspection program — The grain inspection program administered by the
Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. The program
establishes official U.S. standards for grain and certain other commodities such as rice, hops,
and processed grain products. The program offers a user-financed nationwide inspection and
weighing system to certify that grain meets approved standards. By law, all grain exported
from the United States must be officially inspected.
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) — P.L. 80-44 (June
25, 1947), as amended, is the basic authority that requires the EPA to regulate the sales and
use of pesticides. The federal government began regulating pesticides in 1910 for the
purpose of preventing the exploitation of farmers from adulterated and ineffective products.
The original 1947 FIFRA was the first effort to address potential risks to human health.
FIFRA was completely revised in 1972 (P.L. 92-516) to become the basis for current federal
policy. The law directs EPA to restrict the use of pesticides to prevent unreasonable adverse
effects on people and the environment taking into account the costs and benefits of various
uses. The sale of any pesticide is prohibited unless it has gone through registration and is
labeled to show the approved uses and restrictions.
Federal Land Bank Associations (FLBAs) — Institutions within the Farm Credit
System that take applications for and service long-term real estate loans for the Farm
Credit Banks, but do not have direct lending authority.
Federal Land Credit Associations — Institutions within the Farm Credit System
(FCS) that have authority to make long-term real estate loans to eligible retail customers.
FLCAs receive their funds directly from the Farm Credit Banks.
Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) — P.L. 94-579
(October 21, 1976) 1) set out for the Bureau of Land Management standards for
managing public land, including land-use planning, sales, withdrawals, acquisitions, and
exchanges; 2) authorized local advisory councils to represent major citizens groups interested
in land use planning and management; 3) established criteria for review of proposed
wilderness areas; and 4) provided guidelines for other aspects of public land management such
as grazing. This law is also known as the BLM “organic” act.
Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 — Enacted June 30, 1906, as chapter 3913, 34
Stat. 674, and substantially amended by the Wholesome Meat Act 1967 (P.L. 90-201),
requires USDA only to inspect all cattle, sheep, swine, goats, and horses when slaughtered and
processed into products for human consumption. The primary goals of the law are to prevent
adulterated or misbranded livestock and products from being sold as food, and to ensure that
meat and meat products are slaughtered and processed under sanitary conditions. These
requirements apply to animals and their products produced and sold within states as well as
to imports, which must be inspected under equivalent foreign standards. FDA is responsible
for all meats considered “exotic” at this time, including deer and buffalo.
Federal Noxious Weed Act — P.L. 93-629 (January 3, 1975) was adopted to prevent
foreign weeds from entering and becoming established to the detriment of U.S. crops and
livestock. Under this act, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service inspects
incoming passengers, baggage, and cargo at international airports, seaports and border
stations to intercept any of 2,300 listed noxious weeds before they enter the country. If a
noxious weed does become established, APHIS has the authority under this act to work with
federal, state, and local agencies to confine, eradicate, or control it.
Federal Register — Each federal working day, the Federal Register publishes current
Presidential orders or directives, agency regulations, proposed agency rules, notices and other
documents that are required by statute to be published for wide public distribution. USDA
publishes its rules, notices and other documents in the Federal Register.
Federal Water Pollution Control Act — See Clean Water Act.
Feed grain — Any of several grains most commonly used for livestock feed, including corn,
grain sorghum, oats, rye, and barley. These grains and the farms producing them historically
have received federal price and income support. They qualify as contract commodities and
receive production flexibility contract payments.
Feed ratio — The relationship of the cost of feeding animal to their market weight, expressed
as a ratio to the sale price of animals, such as the hog/corn ratio. This serves as an indicator
of the profit margin or lack of profit in feeding animals to market weight.
Feedlot — A confined cattle feeding facility where feeder cattle (usually less than a year
old) are put on higher protein rations to prepare them for slaughter as fed cattle at “good” or
better grades. Commercial feedlots of 1,000 head or more are considered by the EP A to be
concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) and therefore subject to rules requiring
permits setting effluent standards.
FERM — Forest Ecosystem Restoration and Management
Fertilizer — Any organic or inorganic material, either natural or synthetic, used to supply
elements (such as nitrogen (N), phosphate (P2O5), and potash (K2 O)) essential for plant growth.
If used in excess or attached to eroding soil, fertilizers can become a source of water pollution.
FFA — Future Farmers of America
FFCBFC — Federal Farm Credit Banks Funding Corporation
FFDCA — Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
FIA — Futures Industry Association
FICB — Federal Intermediate Credit Bank
Field office technical guide — A manual placed in all Natural Resource Conservation
Service district offices and field service centers that gives the technical specifications and
guidelines for all approved conservation practices.
Field service center — A centralized location for a variety of USDA agency field offices.
These have been reduced in number through closures and consolidations initiated as part of a
USDA reorganization and streamlining effort mandated by Department of Agriculture
Reorganization Act of 1994. USDA plans to have approximately 2,500 centers in place
in 1997 to provide “one-stop shopping” for clients of the Farm Service Agency, the
Natural Resources Conservation Service, and USDA’s rural development agencies.
Some 1,300 separate office locations of these various agencies have been or are being closed
or moved, according to USDA. The Office of Management and Budget directed USDA to
close even more offices, to reduce total field service centers to 2,000 by 1999.
FIFRA — Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
Filter strip — An area of vegetation, generally narrow and long, that slows the rate of runoff,
allowing sediments, organic matter, and other pollutants that are being conveyed by the water
to be removed. Filter strips reduce erosion and the accompanying stream pollution, and can
be a best management practice.
Findley payments — Under the so-called Findley Provision authorized by the Food
Security Act of 1985 (and first sponsored by former Congressman Paul Findley), USDA
was able to reduce the basic, formula-set nonrecourse loan rate for major crops by up to an
additional 20% if that was necessary to keep the United States competitive in international
markets. If done, direct compensatory payments were made to producers equal to the amount
of the loan rate reduction. These “Findley Payments,” limited to $200,000 per person,
essentially added to the larger direct deficiency payment. The Findley provisions are
superseded by the FAIR Act of 1996.
FIP — Forestry Incentives Program
Fire ants — A South American stinging ant that has become established in southern states
from North Carolina to Texas. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
quarantines nursery products from affected states and conducts a project to find promising
biological control agents in South America that could be imported to combat the pest in the
Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) — FWS is the federal agency charged with managing
and protecting the nation’s wild plants and animals, including endangered and threatened
species. It generally works closely with state agencies, which have management primacy for
most species. (The federal government has assumed responsibility for marine mammals,
migratory birds, and endangered and threatened species). It manages the National Wildlife
Refuge System, and cooperates with private landowners in habitat conservation.
Fish farming — Usually, freshwater commercial aquaculture; catfish farms are an
FLB — Federal Land Bank
FLBA — Federal Land Bank Association
FLCA — Federal Land Credit Association
Flex acreage — The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 mandated that deficiency
payments not be made on 15% of a farm’s crop acreage base, called normal flex acres. The
acreage could be planted to any program crop (called flexing), but not fruits and vegetables.
An additional 10% of the farm’s base acreage could be flexed at the option of the operator.
Flexing did not diminish the crop acreage base of a farm. The FAIR Act of 1996 effectively
provides total flexibility among all commodities, except for fruits and vegetables.
Flood risk reduction program — Provides for contracts for producers on farms that have
contract acreage under Title I of the FAIR Act of 1996 that are flooded frequently.
Individuals can receive up to 95% of transition payments and projected crop insurance
payments in lieu of market transition payments. In return, producers must comply with
swampbuster and conservation compliance provisions and forego future conservation
program payments and disaster payments. Though authorized, this program has not yet been
Flow to market — A quantity provision in a fruit or vegetable marketing order that does
not change the total quantity that can be marketed during a season, but rather controls the rate
or time period that quantities can be shipped to markets by means of shipping holidays and
FLPMA — Federal Land Policy and Management Act
Flue-cured tobacco — A type of cigarette tobacco, it and burley tobacco account for
more than 90% of U.S. tobacco production. Flue-cured tobacco production is limited by
national marketing quotas and acreage allotments, and is eligible for nonrecourse
price support loans. Flue-cured production is centered in North Carolina.
Fluid differential — In federal milk marketing orders, the Class I differential is the
amount added to the basic formula price to determine a region’s minimum price for milk
used for fluid (drinking) purposes.
Fluid Milk Promotion Act of 1990 — This is the designation given to Subtitle H of Title
XIX of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade (FACT) Act of 1990.
Subtitle H authorized the establishment of a national milk processor check-off program for
fluid milk promotion. The program is funded through a 20-cent per hundredweight (cwt.)
assessment on all milk processed for fluid consumption. The Act required USDA to conduct
a referendum among fluid milk processors to determine if a majority favored implementing the
program. The Fluid Milk Order was approved by processors and became effective December
Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program — A national program authorized by the
Fluid Milk Promotion Act of 1990 (Fluid Act) with the purpose of increasing
consumption of milk and dairy products and reducing milk surpluses by developing generic
advertising programs. The program is funded by a mandatory 20-cent per hundredweight
assessment on processors for all fluid milk processed in the contiguous 48 states and
marketed commercially. The program is administered by the National Fluid Milk Processor
Promotion Board. It should not be confused with the dairy farmer funded Dairy Promotion
Program. The FAIR Act of 1996 extends the Fluid Milk Promotion Program through
FMD — Foot-and-mouth disease
FMDP — Foreign Market Development (Cooperator) Program
FmHA — Farmers Home Administration
FMI — Food Marketing Institute
FMIA — Federal Meat Inspection Act
FMMO — Federal milk marketing orders
FMV — Fair market value
FO — Farm ownership loans
FOIA — Freedom of Information Act
Food additives — Any substance or mixture of substances other than the basic foodstuff
present in a food as a result of any phase of production, processing, packaging, storage,
transport or handling. USDA allows food additives in meat, poultry and egg products only
after they have received Food and Drug Administration safety approval. Food additives
are regulated under the authority of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and are
subject to the Delaney Clause.
Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade (FACT) Act of 1990 — P.L. 101-624
(November 28, 1990) was a 5-year omnibus farm bill. It continued to move agriculture in
a market-oriented direction by freezing target prices and allowing more planting flexibility.
New titles included rural development, forestry, organic certification, and commodity
promotion programs. The law established a Rural Development Administration (RDA) in
the USDA to administer programs relating to rural and small community development. It
extended and modified the Food Stamp Program and other domestic nutrition programs and
made major changes in the operation of P.L. 480. It revised existing law involving
agricultural trade credits and guarantees. The FACT Act was soon altered by the Food,
Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act Amendments of 1991 (P.L. 102-237) to
correct errors and alleviate problems in implementing the law. The amendments allowed the
Farm Credit Bank for Cooperatives to make loans for agricultural exports and established a
new regulatory scheme and capital standards for the Federal Agricultural Mortgage
Corporation (Farmer Mac). The law also established new handling requirements for eggs
to help prevent food-borne illness. More policy changes were made by the Omnibus Budget
Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1993 (P.L. 103-66). This law intended to reduce federal farm
spending by $3 billion over 5 years by eliminating USDA’s authority to waive minimum
acreage set-aside requirements for wheat and corn, reducing deficiency payments to farmers
participating in the 0/92 and 50/92 programs from 92% to 85% of the normal payment level,
reducing the acreage to be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program and Wetlands
Reserve Program, and requiring improvement in the actuarial soundness of the federal crop
insurance program. The measure also provided for a temporary moratorium on sales of
synthetic bovine growth hormone and reduced the loan rate for soybeans. It reduced Market
Promotion Program (MPP) funding through fiscal 1997 and provided for a series of
significant MPP operational reforms. It also provided, among other provisions, for the
designation of a series rural (and urban) empowerment and enterprise zones, eligible for special
federal aid and tax credits.
Food Aid Consultative Group — A group created by the FACT Act of 1990 to review
and address issues concerning the effectiveness of regulations and procedures that govern U.S.
food aid programs. The FAIR Act of 1996 extends the authority for the Food Aid
Consultative Group through 2002.
Food Aid Convention (FAC) — See International Grains Agreement.
Food and Agricultural Act of 1965 — P.L. 89-321 (November 3, 1965) was the first
multi-year farm legislation, providing for 4-year commodity programs for wheat, feed grains,
and upland cotton. It was extended for 1 more year, through 1970, by enactment of P.L. 90559. It authorized a Class I milk base plan for the 75 federal milk marketing orders and
a long-term acreage diversion under a Cropland Adjustment Program. The law also continued
payment and acreage diversion programs for feed grains and cotton, and certificate and
diversion programs for wheat.
Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 — P.L. 95-113 (September 9, 1977) was an omnibus
farm bill. It increased price and income supports and established a farmer-owned reserve
for grain. It also established a new two-tiered pricing program for peanuts. Under the peanut
program, producers were given an acreage allotment on which a poundage quota was
set. Growers could produce in excess of their quota, within their acreage allotment, but would
receive the higher of the two price-support levels only for the quota amount. Peanuts in excess
of the quota are referred to as “additionals.” Title XIII was designated the Food Stamp Act
of 1977 and permanently amended the Food Stamp Act of 1964 by eliminating the
purchase requirement and simplifying eligibility requirements. Title XIV was designated the
National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act and made
USDA the leading federal agency for agricultural research, extension, and teaching programs.
It also consolidated the funding for these programs.
Food and Agriculture Councils (FACs) — These councils were instituted in 1982 by
USDA to function as interagency coordinating groups on three levels: national, state, and local.
The state FACs are composed of senior level officials of individual USDA agencies within each
state, and in recent years they have played a major role in managing the reorganization and
“downsizing” of USDA’s field office structure. Local FACs have consisted of USDA
representatives at county or area-wide levels; and a national FAC at USDA’s Washington
headquarters has served as a liaison with the state and local FACs.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) — A UN
organization, founded in 1945, that collects and disseminates information about world
agriculture. FAO also provides technical assistance to developing countries in agricultural
production and distribution, food processing, nutrition, fisheries, and forestry. The FAO’s
Global Information Early Warning System (GIEWS) monitors for famine conditions in regions
Food and Consumer Service (FCS) — The USDA agency whose goals are to provide
needy people with access to a more nutritious diet, to improve the eating habits of the nation's
children, and to stabilize farm prices through the distribution of surplus foods. It administers
15 domestic food assistance programs (including the food stamp program, child nutrition
programs (e.g., school feeding programs), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition
Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)). FCS works in partnership with
the states and reimburses most of the administrative costs the states incur for carrying out local
program administration. http://www.usda.gov/fcs/
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — An agency within the Public Health Service
of Department of Health and Human Services. FDA is a public health agency, charged with
protecting consumers by enforcing the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and
several related public health laws. Importantly for agriculture, a major FDA mission is to
protect the safety and wholesomeness of food. In this regard, its scientists test samples to see
if any substances, such as pesticide residues, are present in unacceptable amounts, it sets food
labeling standards, and it sees that medicated feeds and other drugs given to animals raised for
food are not threatening to the consumer’s health. http://www.fda.gov/
Food and fiber system — That sector of the U.S. economy that includes agricultural
production and all economic activities supporting or utilizing that production, including farm
machinery and chemical production, and processing, manufacturing, transportation, and
retailing. In 1995, the food and fiber system employed 22.9 million workers, or 17.3% of the
U.S. workforce, and accounted for $983 billion, or 13.5% of the gross domestic product.
Food Code — The code, published by FDA, consists of model requirements for safeguarding
public health that may be adopted and used by various parts of local, state, and federal
governments, if desired. It is used by officials who have compliance responsibilities for food
service, retail food stores, or food vending operations.
Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) — This program
allows Indian Tribal Organizations to operate a food distribution program as an alternative to
the food stamp program for those living on or near an Indian reservation. Eligibility for
benefits is the same as that for the food stamp program and funds for the program are drawn
from food stamp appropriations. Foods contained in packages include frozen and/or canned
meats and poultry, canned fruits and vegetables and juices, dry cereals, cornmeal, flour, butter,
macaroni, cheese, evaporated and nonfat dry milk, oats, peanuts and peanut butter, shortening
Food donations to charitable institutions, soup kitchens, and food banks —
Donations of food by the Commodity Credit Corporation to help provide meals to needy
people. Foods donated are from agricultural surpluses acquired by USDA as part of its price
stabilization and surplus removal activities. Eligible charitable groups range from churches
operating community kitchens for the homeless to orphanages and homes for the elderly. Other
eligible groups include meals-on-wheels programs, soup kitchens, temporary shelters,
correctional institutions offering rehabilitative activities, group homes for the mentally retarded,
and hospitals that offer general and long-term health care.
Food for Peace Program — A label given to the food donation activities carried out under
Food for Progress Program (FPP) — A food aid program originally authorized by the
Food Security Act of 1985 to provide commodities on credit terms or on a grant basis to
developing countries and emerging democracies to assist in the introduction of elements of free
enterprise into the countries’ agricultural economies. Commodities may be provided under
authority of P.L. 480 (Title I) or Section 416(b); the CCC may purchase commodities for
use in Food for Progress if the commodities are currently not held in CCC inventories. The
FAIR Act of 1996 extends authority for the FPP through 2002.
Food package — Generally refers to foods contained in the package of specific items
provided to those participating in the WIC program or CSFP. Also may refer to foods
distributed by food banks and pantries, and by Indian Tribal agencies distributing commodities
in lieu of food stamps.
Food power — The act of withholding or making available agricultural commodities for
export or aid by an exporting nation or group of nations for the purpose of influencing the
actions of another country or group of countries. Food power implies a foreign policy
motivation rather than a financial or humanitarian motivation to export activities.
Food safety initiative — A 1997 interagency initiative among FDA, CDC, EPA, and USDA
to implement a series of coordinated efforts to reduce the annual incidence of foodborne illness
and resultant economic losses to consumers and industry by enhancing the safety of the U.S.
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) — A 10,000 employee agency within USDA
responsible for ensuring food safety in some 6,400 meat and poultry plants throughout the
United States; the agency also certifies the safety programs operated for state and foreign
plants. Most food safety inspection costs are borne by taxpayers rather than the industry, in
contrast to user fees for inspection and grading related to marketing standards.
Food Security Act of 1985 — P.L. 99-198 (December 23, 1985), a 5-year omnibus farm
bill, allowed lower commodity price and income supports, established a dairy herd buyout
program. Changes were made in a variety of other USDA programs. Several enduring
conservation program were created, including sodbuster, swampbuster, and the
Conservation Reserve Program. Shortly after enactment, the Technical Corrections
to Food Security Act of 1985 Amendments (P.L. 99-253, February 28, 1986) gave
USDA discretion to require cross-compliance for wheat and feed grains instead of mandating
them, changed acreage base calculations, and specified election procedures for local
Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation committees. Technical changes and other
modifications were enacted by the Food Security Improvements Act of 1986 (P.L. 99260, March 20, 1986), including limiting the nonprogram crops that could be planted under
the 50/92 provision, permitting haying and grazing on diverted wheat and feed grain acreage
for a limited period in regions of distress, and increasing deductions taken from the price of
milk received by producers to fund the dairy termination program (also called the whole
herd buyout) program. Again in 1986, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (P.L. 99-509)
made changes in the 1985 Act requiring advance deficiency payments to be made to producers
of 1987 wheat, feed grains, upland cotton, and rice crops at a minimum of 40% for wheat and
feed grains and 30% for rice and upland cotton. It also amended the Farm Credit Act of
1971. Further commodity program changes were made in the FY1987 agricultural
appropriations bill (P.L. 99-591, October 30, 1986). In addition to its funding provisions, this
law set the payment limitation at $50,000 per person for deficiency and paid land diversion
payments, and included honey, resource adjustment (excluding land diversion), disaster, and
Findley payments under a $250,000 aggregate payment limitation. Once again, the Omnibus
Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-203) not only set the 1988 fiscal year budget for
agriculture and all federal agencies, but also set target prices for 1988 and 1989 program
crops, established loan rates for program and nonprogram crops, and required a voluntary paid
land diversion for feed grains. This law further defined who could receive farm program
payments by defining a “person” in terms of payment limitations.
Food Security Commodity Reserve — A special reserve of up to 4 million metric tons
of wheat, corn, sorghum, and rice to be used for international humanitarian purposes. This
reserve created by the FAIR Act of 1996 is an expansion and replacement of the Food
Security Wheat Reserve established by the Agriculture Act of 1980. The reserve is to be
used to provide famine relief and other emergency relief when commodities are not available
for programming under P.L. 480.
Food Security Wheat Reserve (FSWR) — Title III of the Agriculture Act of 1980
established a reserve of up to 4 million metric tons of wheat for use in meeting emergency
food needs in developing countries. This reserve generally was to be used to meet famine or
other urgent or extraordinary relief requirements during periods of tight supplies and high
prices when commodities are not available under the provisions of P.L. 480. The FSWR was
replaced by the Food Security Commodity Reserve under the FAIR Act of 1996.
Food Stamp Act of 1964 — P.L. 88-525 (August 31, 1964) provided permanent legislative
authority to the Food Stamp Program, which had been administratively implemented on a
pilot basis in 1962. It was later replaced by the food stamp provisions of the Food and
Agricultural Act of 1977 (Title XIII), which eliminated the purchase requirement and
simplified eligibility requirements. Major changes again were made by the Food Stamp
Program Improvements Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-225). This law modified reporting
requirements and ensured adequate access to retail food stores by food stamp households. Title
I of the law permitted a state to require periodic reporting by migrant or seasonal farmworker
households and set forth conditions under which a state may require such reporting for Indian
reservation households. The law also provided for staggered food stamp issuances on
reservations and required a General Accounting Office study and report on tribal organization
administration of the Food Stamp Program. Title II redefined “retail food store” and “staple
foods,” and made numerous other changes affecting establishments that accept food stamps.
Food Stamp Program (FSP) — A program that supplements the food buying power of
eligible low-income households by providing them with monthly benefits through coupons or
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, which are redeemable at authorized retail food
stores. The program began as a pilot operation in 1961 and was made part of permanent
law in the Food Stamp Act of 1964. Funding authority was extended through FY1997 by
an amendment to the FAIR Act of 1996, and through FY2002 under the 1996 welfare law.
Foodborne pathogens — Disease-causing microorganisms found in food, usually bacteria,
fungi, parasites, protozoans, and viruses. Older pathogens are acquiring greater potency while
new organisms are emerging as health threats. The top ten pathogens are: Salmonella;
Staphylococcus Aureus; Campylobacter jejuni; Yersinia enerocolitica; Listeria
monocytogenes; Vibrio cholerae non-01; Vibrio Parahemolyticus; Bacillus cereus;
Escherichia coli - enteropathogenic; and Shigella. Many of these pathogens may be found
in contaminated meat, poultry, shell eggs, dairy products, and seafood.
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) — A major disease of cloven-footed animals (e.g., cattle
and pigs) that does not exist in the United States. The Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service conducts a surveillance program to track the disease in foreign countries,
regulates the importation of animal products from countries where FMD exists, and tests
imported animals in quarantine.
FOR — Farmer-Owned Reserve
Forage value index (FVI) — A derived index of the relative change in the previous year’s
average monthly rate per head for pasturing cattle on privately owned land in the West. Used
in calculating federal grazing fees.
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) — The USDA agency that administers agricultural
export and food aid programs. FAS is also responsible for formulating agricultural trade
policy, negotiating to reduce foreign agricultural trade barriers, and carrying out programs of
international cooperation and technical assistance. The agency maintains a global network of
agricultural officers (counselors and attaches) as well as a Washington-based staff to analyze
and disseminate information on world agriculture and trade, develop and expand export
markets, and represent the agricultural trade policy interests of U.S. producers in multilateral
Foreign Market Development Program (FMDP) — More commonly called the
Forest health — a term used for a collection of concerns over the alleged deterioration in
forest conditions, including both current problems (e.g., insect and disease infestations,
wildfires, and related tree mortality) and risks of future problems (e.g., too many smalldiameter trees (overstocking), excessive biomass, and an unnatural mix of tree species in mixed
Forest plans — land and resource management plans for units of the National Forest
System under the National Forest Management Act. The Act specifies a detailed
process and numerous requirements, including public participation and periodic revision,
intended to achieve multiple use in the national forests.
Forest Service (FS) — The largest USDA agency in terms of employees (about 37,000) with
responsibility for administering the National Forest System, for providing financial and
technical forestry assistance to states and to private landowners under State and Private
Forestry, and for conducting Forestry Research. http://www.fs.fed.us/
Forestland — A classification of land use in the Natural Resources Inventory (NRI).
It includes areas where trees cover at least 10% of the land and must be at least an acre in size.
Forestland was found on 395 million acres, almost 30% of all private lands, in the 1992 NRI.
Forestry Incentive Program (FIP) — Initiated in 1975 as an independent program and
currently administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, FIP provides
financial assistance for up to 65% of the cost of tree planting and timber stand improvement
on private forest stands of less than 1,000 acres. Payments are limited to $10,000 per year.
More than 4,500 forest owners with 165,000 acres participated in 1995. The program now is
authorized under the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978, as amended.
Forfeiture penalty (sugar) — A penalty paid to the Commodity Credit Corporation by a
processor of sugar beets or sugarcane who, having taken out a nonrecourse loan, decides
to hand over sugar pledged as collateral to the CCC rather than accept the then-market price
(see loan forfeiture). The penalty is 1 cent/lb. on raw cane sugar, 1.072 cents/lb. on refined
beet sugar. The impact of this penalty is to lower the effective price support levels
authorized by the FAIR Act of 1996 by the penalty amount (i.e., for raw cane sugar, from
18 cents/lb. to 17 cents/lb.).
Formula funds — Federal dollars distributed to the land grant colleges of agriculture
through formulas found in the Hatch Act, the Smith-Lever Act, the McIntire-Stennis
Act, and the Evans-Allen Act for (1) agricultural research at the state agricultural
experiment stations, (2) extension programs and (3) forestry research at the land grant
colleges of agriculture, and (4) research at the 1890 institutions, respectively.
Forward contract — A cash transaction common in many industries, including agricultural
commodity merchandising, in which a commercial buyer and seller agree upon delivery of a
specified quality and quantity of goods at a specified future date. A price may be agreed upon
in advance, or there may be agreement that the price will be determined at the time of delivery.
Forward contracts, in contrast to futures contracts, are privately negotiated and are not
Forward market — This refers to informal (non-exchange) trading of commodities to be
delivered at a future date. Contracts for forward delivery are “personalized” (i.e., delivery time
and amount are determined between seller and customer).
Forward selling — Forward contracting in which the price is fixed at the time the
contract is entered.
FPP — Farmland Protection Program; Food for Progress Program
FPPA — Farmland Policy Protection Act
FR — Federal Register; final rulemaking
FRAC — Food Research and Action Center
Free lunch (or breakfast, snack, or milk) — refers to a meal (or snacks or half-pint of
milk) that is offered under a child nutrition program at no cost to children who apply for and
whose family income qualifies them for it. Income eligibility for free meals is set at 130% or
less of the federal poverty income level, and substantially higher subsidies generally are
provided for these meals than for paid meals, or reduced price meals.
Free market — A system in which the market forces of supply and demand determine prices
and allocate available supplies, without government intervention. The concept of a free-market
approach in agricultural policy, in its purest form, is no government price and income support
programs, supply management programs, export subsidies, or barriers to international trade.
Free rider — In agricultural policy, the term generally refers to a firm or person who benefits
from a collectively funded activity (such as a generic advertising and promotion, or
check-off, program) without contributing to its costs.
Free stocks — Commodity stocks owned by farmers or others in the trade, rather than by
those owned or controlled by the government. (Supplies in the Food Security Commodity
Reserve are government-controlled and not considered free stocks.) (JW)
Free trade area — A group of countries that have removed trade barriers among the
members, but each country may maintain its own trade regime with nonmember countries. The
best known current example is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) — A proposal under discussion with the
launch of comprehensive negotiations envisaged for the Summit of the Americas, scheduled for
Santiago, Chile in March 1998.
Freedom-to-farm — A phrase that was used in the congressional arena to characterize the
production flexibility contract provisions of the FAIR Act of 1996.
FS, USFS — U.S. Forest Service
FSA — Farm Service Agency
FSCR — Food Security Commodity Reserve
FSIS — Food Safety and Inspection Service
FSP — Food Stamp Program
FSU — Former Soviet Union
FSWR — Food Security Wheat Reserve
FTA — Free trade area, or free trade agreement
FTE — Full-time equivalent (generally refers to agency staffing levels)
Full-cost water — An annual rate for water delivered from Bureau of Reclamation facilities,
which includes project construction costs attributed to irrigation, as well as outstanding deficits
on operation and maintenance charges, with interest on both accruing from October 12, 1982.
The term is defined in Section 202 of the Reclamation Reform Act of 1982. The Bureau
charges full-cost for water delivered to lands above the acreage limitation.
Fumigant — A vaporized pesticide used to control pests in soil, buildings and greenhouses,
and chambers holding products such as fruits to be treated. Methyl bromide is an example.
Fund for Rural America — A fund established by the FAIR Act of 1996 to augment
existing resources for agricultural research and rural development. Funding is provided from
the U.S. Treasury in three separate payments between January 1, 1997, and October 1, 1999.
One-third of the fund is to be for competitive agricultural research grants, one-third for rural
development, and one-third to be designated by USDA either for research or for rural
Fungibility — The characteristic of interchangeability. Bulk commodities are generally
described as fungible, whereas those with special characteristics may be marketed as identity
preserved. Futures contracts for the same commodity and delivery month are fungible due
to their standardized specifications for quality, quantity, delivery date and delivery locations.
Fungicide — Any pesticide used to control, deter, or destroy fungi, which are forms of plant
life, often undesirable, that lack chlorophyll and are unable to make their own food (such as
the plant pathogen, powdery mildew).
Furrow irrigation — Small, shallow channels guide water across the surface of a leveled
field. Crops are typically grown on a ridge or raised bed between the furrows. This is the
major irrigation system that is based on gravity.
Futures contract — A standardized agreement calling for deferred delivery of a commodity,
or its equivalent, entered through organized futures exchanges. Most agricultural futures
contracts call for physical delivery, but feeder cattle futures contracts call for cash settlement
at contract maturity. In fact, contracts are usually liquidated before delivery. Traders are
classified as hedgers or speculators. The FAIR Act of 1996 requires USDA to conduct
research through pilot programs to determine if futures and options contracts can provide
producers with reasonable protection from the financial risks of fluctuations in price, yield, and
income inherent in the production and marketing of agricultural commodities.
Futures price — (1) Commonly held to mean the price of a commodity for future delivery
that is traded on a futures exchange. (2) The price of any futures contract.
FVI — Forage value index
FW — Farmed wetlands
FWPCA — Federal Water Pollution and Control Act (Clean Water Act); Federal
Water Pollution and Control Administration
FWS — Fish and Wildlife Service
FY — Fiscal year
GAP — Government Accountability Project
Gas chromatograph / mass spectrometer — An analytical technique for identifying the
molecular composition and concentrations of various chemicals in water and soil samples.
Gasohol — Registered trade name for a blend consisting of 90% unleaded gasoline and 10%
fermentation ethanol. Gasohol emissions contain less carbon monoxide than those from
GATT — General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (See also Uruguay Round and
World Trade Organization.)
GDP — Gross domestic product
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) — An agreement originally
negotiated in Geneva, Switzerland in 1947 to increase international trade by reducing tariffs
and nontariff trade barriers. The agreement provides a code of conduct for international
commerce and a framework for periodic multilateral negotiations on trade liberalization
and expansion. The Uruguay Round Agreement (resulting from negotiations that stretched
from 1986 through 1993 among over 100 nations) established the World Trade Organization
(WTO) to replace the institutions created by the GATT. The WTO officially replaced the
GATT institutions on January 1, 1995. The WTO administers the GATT 1947, the revisions
in GATT resulting from the Uruguay Round negotiations (GATT 1994), dispute resolution
among WTO member countries, and various agreements resulting from other previous
multilateral trade negotiations.
Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) — First authorized by the Trade Act of
1974, GSP allows some 140 developing countries to ship more than 3,000 products to the
United States duty free. This helps developing countries to generate foreign exchange needed
to purchase import commodities. The United States and 18 other industrialized nations began
GSP programs in the mid-1970s to promote the economic growth of developing nations.
Generic advertising and promotion — The promotion of a particular commodity without
reference to a specific producer, brand name, or manufacturer. Because individual producers
of nearly homogeneous agricultural commodities cannot easily convince consumers to choose
one egg or orange or a single cut of beef over another, they join together to use generic
advertising to expand total demand for the commodity, thereby helping their own sales as well.
Activities are intended to expand both domestic and export demand; examples include
advertising, nutrition education, research to improve product quality and appeal, market
research studies, and technical assistance. These activities are often self-funded through
assessments on marketings called check-off programs.
Generic certificates — Commodity certificates used by the CCC in the 1980s to meet
payment obligations and simultaneously dispose of commodity inventories.
Genetic engineering — The genetic modification of organisms by recombinant DNA or
other specific molecular gene transfer or exchange techniques. USDA’s Agricultural
Research Service does in-house research in this field, and the Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service regulates the release of genetically engineered organisms for field
Genome — All the genetic material in the chromosomes of a particular organism. USDA’s
research agencies have a Plant Genome Mapping Program to identify, characterize, and map
the position of agriculturally important genes on the chromosomes of plants grown as crops or
trees in order to better use these genes for improving the characteristics of the plant (resistance
to disease, higher yields, etc.) through breeding.
Germicide — Any compound that kills disease-causing microorganisms. Germicides must
be registered by EPA as pesticides.
GIPSA — Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration
GIS — Geographic information systems
Gleaning — Collecting unharvested crops from fields or obtaining unused agricultural
products from farmers, processors, or retailers, usually for distribution to food banks and
charitable feeding organizations.
GMA — Grocery Manufacturers of America
GMP — Good manufacturing practices
Good manufacturing practices (GMPs) — Standards published in the Code of Federal
Regulations and used by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the quality of
marketed products and that products are produced under sanitary conditions. Any FDAregulated product can be designated adulterated if the manufacturing methods or facilities
for processing do not conform with GMPs. GMPs are developed through a consultative
process between the FDA and the affected industry.
Good samaritan laws — With respect to food and agriculture programs, these laws are
designed to encourage the donation of food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations
serving the needy by minimizing the risks of legal actions against donors and distributors of the
foods. The Model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was amended and revised in
1996 and renamed the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act (P.L. 104-210) in memory
of the late Congressman who sponsored and championed Good Samaritan laws. It excludes
from civil or criminal liability a person or nonprofit food organization that, in good faith,
donates or distributes donated foods for food relief. Protection does not apply to an injury or
death resulting from gross neglect or intentional misconduct and does not supersede state or
local health regulations.
GPCP — Great Plains Conservation Program
GPRA — Government Performance and Results Act
GPS — Global Positioning System
Grade A milk — Milk produced under sufficiently sanitary conditions to qualify for fluid
(beverage) consumption. Also referred to as fluid grade milk. Only Grade A milk is regulated
under federal milk marketing orders. Grade B milk (also referred to as manufacturing
grade) does not meet fluid grade standards and is used only in manufactured products. More
than 90% of all milk produced nationally is Grade A. Therefore, much of the Grade A milk
supply is used in manufactured dairy products.
Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance — Minimum standards and requirements for
Grade A milk production and processing are outlined in the Grade A Pasturized Milk
Ordinance (PMO) published by the Food and Drug Administration. Grade A standards
are recommended by the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS), which
is comprised of voting representatives from state and local regulatory agencies, and non-voting
representatives of the dairy industry and FDA. As a general rule, FDA accepts the Conference
recommendations and incorporates them into the revised PMO. The state regulator (which is
usually either the State Department of Agriculture or the State Health Department) adopts the
PMO standards as a minimum, and in many cases requires more stringent standards.
Grades and standards — The segregation, or classification, of agricultural commodities
into groupings that share common characteristics. Grades provide a common “trading
language,” or common reference, so that buyers and sellers can more easily determine the
quality (and therefore value) of those commodities. Two USDA agencies—the Agricultural
Marketing Service and Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards
Administration—serve as objective sources for this information. These agencies develop
common grades and standards and conduct inspection and grading services for most food and
farm products, and industry pays for most of the cost through user fees.
Grading certificates — A formal document setting forth the quality of a commodity as
determined by authorized inspectors or graders.
Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) — An agency
established in 1994 with the combination of the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) and
the Packers and Stockyards Administration (P&S). FGIS provides grain marketing standards
and an official inspection system. P&S programs are regulatory in nature to protect livestock
producers by ensuring open and competitive markets. http://www.usda.gov/gipsa/
Grain reserve — A phrase that might refer to the food security commodity reserve,
food security wheat reserve, the farmer-owned grain reserve, or the strategic grain
Grain Standards Act of 1916 — See United States Grain Standards Act of 1916.
Grains Trade Convention (GTC) — See International Grains Agreement.
Granger-Thye Act of 1950 — P.L. 81-478 (April 24, 1950) established a new direction
for some aspects of National Forest System management; authorized the use of grazing fee
receipts for rangeland improvement; authorized the Forest Service to issue grazing permits
for terms up to 10 years; authorized to the Forest Service to participate in funding cooperative
forestry and rangeland resource improvements; established grazing advisory boards; and,
authorized the Forest Service to assist with work on private forestlands.
GRAS — Generally recognized as safe
Grassed waterway — A generally broad and shallow depression planted with erosionresistant grasses, which is used to convey surface waters off of or across cropland.
Grazing district — An administrative unit of BLM-managed rangelands established by
the Secretary of the Interior under Section 3 of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934.
Grazing fee — A charge, usually on a monthly basis, for grazing a specific kind of livestock.
For federal lands, the grazing fee is based on a formula found in the Public Rangelands
Improvement Act (PRIA). The federal grazing fee is equal to a base fee of [$1.23 x the
Forage Value Index (FVI)] + [the Beef Price Index (BPI)] - [the Prices Paid Index
(PPI)] ÷  and is charged per animal unit month.
Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) — A program started by USDA under
its discretionary authority in 1991 and then specifically authorized by the FAIR Act of 1996
to provide increased technical and educational assistance to conserve and enhance private
grazing lands. More than 60% of these grazing lands are considered to have serious
environmental problems that could lessen their productive capacity if corrective actions are not
taken. The FAIR Act of 1996 authorizes funding at $20 million the first year, increasing to
$60 million in the third year.
Grazing permit/license/lease — Official written permission to graze a specific number,
kind, and class of livestock for a specified time period on defined federal rangeland.
Grazing preference — The status of qualified holders of grazing permits acquired by
grant, prior use, or purchase, that entitles them to special consideration over applicants who
have not acquired preference.
Grazing privilege — The benefit or advantage enjoyed by a person or company beyond the
common advantage of other citizens to graze livestock on federal lands. Privilege may be
created by permit, license, lease, or agreement.
Great Plains Conservation Program GPCP) — This program, initiated in 1957,
provided cost share and technical assistance to apply conservation on entire farms in 10 Great
Plains states from the Dakotas and Montana to Texas and New Mexico. Contracts were
limited to $35,000. At the end of 1995, over 6,800 farms in 558 counties with 20 million acres
were participating. It was replaced by the Environmental Quality Incentives Program
in the FAIR Act of 1996.
Green box — Domestic or trade policies that are deemed to be minimally trade-distorting and
that are excluded from reduction commitments in the Uruguay Round Agreement on
Agriculture. Examples are domestic policies dealing with inspection and grading,
environmental and conservation programs, disaster relief, crop insurance, domestic food
assistance, and direct payments not linked to production. Trade measures or policies such as
export market promotion (but not export subsidies or foreign food aid) are also exempt. See
Greenhouse effect — The hypothesized warming of the Earth’s atmosphere as a result of
increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap infrared radiation
emitted from the earth’s surface. While the increase in such gases is well documented, the
effect on climate remains debatable. Estimates of the temperature effect range from zero to an
increase of several degrees average global temperature by 2050; changes in temperature would
affect rainfall patterns. Significant climate change would inevitably affect agricultural
Gross domestic product (GDP) — Gross domestic product is a measure of the total
production and consumption of goods and services in the United States. The Bureau of
Economic Analysis constructs two complementary measures of GDP, one based on income
and one based on expenditures. It is measured on the product side by adding up the labor,
capital, and tax costs of producing the output. On the expenditure side, GDP is measured by
adding up expenditures by households, businesses, government and net foreign purchases.
Theoretically, these two measures should be equal. However, due to problems collecting data,
there is often a discrepancy between the two measures. The GDP price deflator is used to
convert output measured at current prices into constant-dollar GDP.
Gross farm income — The monetary and non-monetary income received by farm operators.
Its main components include cash receipts from the sale of farm products, government
payments, other farm income (such as income from custom work), value of food and fuel
produced and consumed on the same farm, rental value of farm dwellings, and change in value
of year-end inventories of crops and livestock.
Gross processing margin (GPM) — This refers to the difference between the cost of a
commodity and the combined sales income of the finished products that result from processing
the commodity. Various industries have formulas to express the relationship of raw material
costs to sales income from finished products.
Groundwater — The water from wells and underground aquifers. An estimated 95% of the
drinking water used in rural areas is from groundwater. Because of its use as drinking water,
there is concern over contamination from leaching agricultural and industrial pollutants or
leaking underground storage tanks.
Growing season — The time period, usually measured in days, between the last freeze in the
spring and the first frost in the fall. Varies for crops as different plants have different freezing
thresholds. It also is an important component in defining wetland areas.
GSM — General Sales Manager
GSM 102/103 — See Export Credit Guarantee Programs.
General Sales Manager (GSM) — General Sales Manager of the Foreign Agricultural
Service. This office administers the export credit guarantee programs (GSM-102 and
GSM-103), the export enhancement program, the P.L. 480 program, and other USDA
export assistance programs.
GSP — Generalized System of Preferences
Guaranteed export credit — A Commodity Credit Corporation guarantee of
commercial export credit is available through several export credit guarantee programs.
Gully erosion — Also called ephemeral gully erosion, this process occurs when water flows
in small channels and larger swales that are routinely destroyed by tillage or along field edges.
Most gully erosion occurs on highly erodible soils, where there is little or no crop residue
cover, or where crop harvest disturbs the soil. Gully erosion is not accounted for in the
universal soil loss equation. In a few states it amounts to more than half of all erosion, but
more typically 30% to 60% of soil is lost through sheet erosion and rill erosion.
ha — One hectare=2.47 acres. One acre=0.405 hectares. See acre.
Habitat — The place where a population (e.g., human, animal, plant, microorganism) lives,
characterized by physical features (e.g., desert) and/or dominant plants (e.g., deciduous forest).
Habitat conservation plans (HCPs) — Plans prepared under the Endangered Species
Act, by nonfederal parties wishing to obtain permits for incidental taking of threatened and
endangered species. The number of HCPs has expanded enough in the last 5 years that
there are concerns over cost, effectiveness, contributions to recovery, monitoring, and other
HACCP — Hazard analysis and critical control point
Handler — Generally, the first buyer of a farmer’s commodity destined for fresh market use
(in contrast to processing). Under marketing orders, handlers are defined as anyone who
receives the commodity from producers, grades and packs it, and sells it to someone else for
further marketing. Usually, the requirements spelled out in marketing orders technically
apply to handlers, although producers absorb their effects.
Harmonization — The process of establishment, recognition, and application of
internationally recognized measures or standards. Used most often in reference to tariffs (as
in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS)), technical standards, or
sanitary and phytosanitary measures applied to imported food products.
Harmonized system — The international classification system for goods, implemented by
most countries on January 1, 1998, which is used for tariff classification, trade statistics, and
ultimately, transport documentation. Officially known as the Harmonized Commodity
Description and Coding System, conversion was begun by the Customs Cooperation Council
in 1970 as a replacement for the Customs Cooperation Council Nomenclature also known as
the Brussels Tariff Nomenclature.
Harvested acres — The cropland actually harvested for a particular crop, usually somewhat
smaller at the national level than planted acres due to weather damage or abandonment because
of low market prices.
Hatch Act of 1887 — The permanent statute (24 Stat. 440) authorizing federal funds to
state agricultural experiment stations affiliated with the land grant colleges of
agriculture. Congress last amended the act in 1955, adding a formula that USDA uses to
allocate the annual appropriation among the states. The formula provides for each state to
receive what it received in 1955 as a base amount. Sums appropriated in excess of the 1955
level are distributed as follows: 20% is allotted equally to each state; 52% is allocated on the
basis of a state’s share of U.S. rural and farm population; a maximum of 25% is allocated to
the states for research projects that involve more than one state; and 3% is reserved for
administration. On average, Hatch Act formula funds constitute 10% of total funding for
each experiment station.
Haying and grazing rules — Under previous commodity support law, farmers were
permitted, for limited time periods (usually during droughts) and under specific circumstances,
to harvest hay or graze cattle on land idled under acreage reduction programs. These
rules were eliminated by the FAIR Act of 1996 (JW)
Hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) — A production quality control
system now being adopted throughout much of the food industry as a method for minimizing
the entry of foodborne pathogens into the food supply in order to protect human health.
Under a HACCP system, potential hazards are identified and risks are analyzed in each phase
of production; critical control points for preventing such hazards are identified and
constantly monitored; and corrective actions are taken when necessary. Record keeping and
verification procedures are used to ensure that the system is working. HACCP is one of the
major elements of regulations, issued by USDA in July 1996, to control pathogens in meat and
poultry products. Under the rules, all meat and poultry slaughter and processing plants with
500 or more employees must develop and implement, by January 1998, a USDA-approved
HACCP plan for each of their processes and products. Plants with 10 to 500 employees have
until January 1999 to comply, and plants with less than 10 employees have until January 2000,
to implement HACCP. Seafood processors and importers also are required to implement
HACCP plans, but under separate rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration in
HAZMAT — Hazardous materials
HCP — Habitat conservation plan
Head month — A month’s use and occupancy of rangeland by a single animal or
equivalent. A full head month’s fee is charged for each month of grazing by adult animals if
the grazing animal (1) is weaned, (2) is 6 months old or older when entering National Forest
System land, or (3) will become 12 months old during the period of use. For fee purposes, a
head month is equivalent to one animal unit month.
Headwaters — The source, or upper part, of a stream. Often used in discussing water rights
related to wilderness or other federal land designations.
Healthy Meals for Healthy Americans Act of 1994 — P.L. 103-448 (November 2,
1994) most recent amendments reauthorizing several expiring programs under the National
School Lunch Act and Child Nutrition Amendments of 1966 through FY1998.
Required that federally subsidized meal programs conform their meal requirements to the
Dietary Guidelines for Americans, made the nutrition education and training (NET)
program an entitlement, and made other changes to the WIC program expanding program
outreach and coordination.
Hedging — Taking a position in a futures market opposite to a position held in the cash
market to minimize the risk of financial loss from an adverse price change; a purchase or sale
of futures contract as a temporary substitute for a cash transaction that will occur later (i.e.,
long hedge and short hedge). Hedgers use the futures markets to protect their business from
adverse price changes.
HEL — Highly-erodible land
Herbicide — Any pesticide used to destroy or inhibit plant growth; a weed killer.
HHS — Department of Health and Human Services
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) — Produced from converting to fructose a portion of
naturally occurring glucose in starch produced from corn. A natural sweetener, HFCS
production expanded during the 1980s as a substitute for higher-cost sugar used in soft drinks.
HFCS-55 (55% fructose), which is as sweet as sugar, has almost completely replaced liquid
sugar in beverages. HFCS-42 (42% fructose) is roughly 90% as sweet as sugar, and is mainly
used in cereal, baking, dairy, and processed foods. HFCS and two other corn-derived
sweeteners (glucose syrup and dextrose) accounted for 55% of total U.S. natural (caloric)
sweetener use in recent years.
High moisture feed grains — Corn and grain sorghum must have moisture content below
CCC standards in order to qualify for marketing assistance loans. However, the FAIR
Act of 1996 makes recourse loans available to producers of corn and grain sorghum that
have higher moisture content.
High value products (HVP) — Agricultural products that are high in value, often but not
necessarily due to processing. HVPs can be divided into three groups: 1) semi-processed
products, such as fresh and frozen meats, flour, vegetable oils, roasted coffee, refined sugar;
2) highly processed products that are ready for the consumer, such as milk, cheese, wine,
breakfast cereals; and 3) high-value unprocessed products that are also often consumer-ready,
such as fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, eggs, and nuts. In recent years HVPs account
for a greater percentage than bulk commodities in total U.S. agricultural exports.
Highly erodible land (HEL) — Land that is very susceptible to erosion, including fields
that have at least 1/3 or 50 acres of soils with a natural erosion potential of at least 8 times
their “T” level. More than 140 million acres are classified as HEL. Farms cropping highly
erodible land and under production flexibility contract must be in compliance with a
conservation plan that protects this cropland.
Hog/corn ratio (corn-hog ratio) — Number of bushels of corn equal in value to 100
pounds of live hogs (feed ratio). Put another way, the price of hogs, per hundredweight,
divided by the price of corn per bushel. Since corn is a major input cost to hog producers, the
higher the price of hogs relative to corn, the more profit there is in feeding hogs.
Holding pond — A pond or reservoir, usually made of earth, built to store polluted runoff.
Homestead protection — When a USDA farm loan borrower lacks the financial resources
to make payments on a delinquent loan, is ineligible for a restructured loan, and is unable to
buy out the loan at the net recovery value of the collateral property, the borrower can convey
the property to USDA in lieu of loan payments. Until eliminated by the FAIR Act of 1996, the
borrower may have been eligible for homestead protection, whereby the borrower could lease
and/or purchase the residence and up to 10 acres of adjoining land.
Honey program — The FACT Act of 1990 set honey loan rates at 53.8 cents per pound
and permitted deficiency payments. Non-recourse marketing loans were available to support
honey prices until FY1994 when annual appropriations measures suspended funding for this
activity. The 1996 FAIR Act repealed the statutory authority for the honey program.
Horticultural specialty crops — The Census of Agriculture includes as “horticultural
specialties” bedding plants, florists’ greens, flower and vegetable seeds, flowers, foliage, fruit
stocks, nursery and ornamental plants, shrubbery, sod, mushrooms, and vegetables grown
under cover (e.g., in greenhouses).
Household (foodstamp) — A food stamp household is composed of all those who purchase
food and prepare meals in common. All related co-residents must apply as a single food stamp
household, no matter how they purchase and prepare food — except for elderly persons who
are medically certified as unable to purchase and prepare meals separately. Other co-residents
may apply separately if they purchase and prepare food separately, and residents in certain
eligible institutional settings (e.g., shelters for battered women, residential drug treatment
programs) may apply as separate households no matter how they purchase and prepare food.
Housing Act of 1949 — Title V of P.L. 81-171 (October 25, 1949) authorized USDA to
make loans to farmers to construct, improve, repair, or replace dwellings and other farm
buildings to provide decent, safe, and sanitary living conditions for themselves, their tenants,
lessees, sharecroppers, and laborers. The USDA was authorized to make grants or
combinations of loans and grants to farmers who could not qualify to repay the full amount of
a loan, but who needed the funds to make the dwellings sanitary or to remove health hazards
to the occupants or the community. Over time, the Act has been amended to authorize housing
loans and grants to rural residents in general and these are administered by the Rural
Housing Service (RHS). The rural housing programs are generally referred to by the section
number under which they are authorized in the Housing Act of 1949, as amended.
HSI — Habitat suitability index
HSUS — Humane Society of the United States
HTS — Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States
Hundredweight — One hundred pounds (abbreviated as cwt.). A standard unit of measure
for milk, rice, and some meat livestock.
Hunger Prevention Act of 1988 — P.L. 100-435 (September 19, 1988) amended the
Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983 to require the USDA to make
additional types of commodities available for the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance
Program (TEFAP), to improve the child nutrition and food stamp programs, and to
provide other hunger relief.
HVP — High value product
Hydric soil — Soil that, in its undrained state, is flooded long enough during a growing
season to develop anaerobic conditions that support the growth and regeneration of hydrophytic
vegetation. This term is part of the legal definition of a wetland included in the Food
Security Act of 1985. The Natural Resources Conservation Service maintains a
national list of hydric soils.
Hydroponics — The growing of plants without soil by using an inert medium such as sand,
peat, or vermiculite and adding a nutrient solution containing all the essential elements needed
by the plant for its normal growth and development. Water culture, when plant roots are
suspended in a liquid medium containing the nutrient solution while their crowns are supported
in a thin layer of inert medium, is true hydroponics. Often called soilless culture, it also
includes aeroponics where plant roots are suspended in a dark chamber and sprayed with the
Hypoxie zone — An area in the Gulf of Mexico off the mouth of the Mississippi River
covering about 6,000 square miles where there is not enough oxygen to support fish and
shellfish populations. The oxygen depletion is caused by an excessive amount of nutrients that
are brought together from throughout the Mississippi River watershed. Many of these
nutrients are believed to originate from agricultural activities, and the largest portion, over
30%, has been traced to the upper Mississippi drainage, according to research prepared by the
U.S. Geological Survey.
IAI — International Apple Institute
ICM — Integrated crop management
Identity preserved (IP) — This is the designation given to bulk commodities marketed
in a manner that isolates and preserves the identity of a shipment, presumably because of
unique characteristics that have value otherwise lost through commingling during normal
storage, handling and shipping procedures.
IDFA — International Dairy Foods Association
IFIC — International Food Information Council
IFT — Institute of Food Technologists
ILSI — International Life Sciences Institute
Import fee — Generally, an import fee is a charge assessed for a service rendered. For
example, when an import stamp or import license is issued, the government assesses a fee
for this service. Within the context of Section 22 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act
of 1935,”fees” were imposed on imports of agricultural products when deemed necessary to
protect domestic farm programs until 1995. Then, under the North American Free
Trade Agreement and the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, Section 22 import
fees and quotas were converted into tariff-rate quotas.
Import license — A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing
the importation of specified goods into their respective countries. When used in a
discriminatory manner, these licenses can become nontariff trade barriers.
Import quota — A trade barrier that sets the maximum quantity (quantitative
restriction) or value of a commodity allowed to enter a country during a specified time
period. The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture requires the conversion of import
quotas and other quantitative restrictions to tariff-rate quotas and/or bound tariff rates.
Incentive payments — Direct payments made to producers of wool and mohair, which were
similar to deficiency payments made to producers of grains and cotton. The wool and
mohair commodity programs ended after the 1995 marketing year as required by P.L.
Income insurance — A concept, similar to revenue insurance, that envisions an
insurance program that would insure farm families a specified minimum annual income.
Income support — Generally, programs providing direct, income-supplementing payments
to farmers. Intended to protect farm income without affecting market prices. Production
flexibility contract payments provide income support, not price support. The phrase also
is used to characterize the nature of support provided to low-income families by various food
Indemnity payment — The payment that eligible producers receive if they realize a
qualifying crop loss under crop insurance, revenue insurance, or any insurance program.
Industrial crops — Crops that primarily have industrial applications in contrast to food or
livestock feed uses. Industrial uses account for a relatively small but a growing and potentially
much larger share of the market for farm commodities. The USDA devotes a significant
research effort to identifying and developing new industrial uses for crops; this effort is
encouraged by the Alternative Agricultural Research and Commercialization
Corporation (AARC). Some of the industrial and experimental crops include: castor beans
(lubricants, nylon, cosmetics); chia (cosmetics); crotalaria (fibers); cuphea (soap, surfactants);
guar (food stiffeners, drilling muds, paper manufacturing); guayule (natural rubber and
hypoallergenic latex products); hesperaloe (specialty pulp paper); kenaf (twine, fiberboard,
carpet padding, newsprint); lesquerella (lubricants, cosmetics); meadowfoam (cosmetics,
lubricants, water repellents); milkweed (insulated clothing, filler for comforters, nonwoven
textiles) and plantago ovato (high fiber additive to laxatives). While corn is the primary
feedstock for ethanol, it is not considered an industrial crop because nearly 95% of production
goes to feed uses.
Inert ingredient — Pesticide components such as solvents, carriers, dispersants, and
surfactants that are not active against target pests. Inert ingredients may be toxic and may be
subject to testing under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
Infant formula cost-containment — Refers to statutory provisions in the Child
Nutrition Act of 1966 that require state WIC agencies to solicit bids to infant formula
companies for the sale of infant formula used in WIC food packages.
Infiltration — The downward entry of water into soil. Also called percolation. A high rate
of infiltration means that soil moisture for crops will be higher. Many conservation practices,
such as conservation tillage, reduce rates of runoff and increase infiltration rates.
Infoshare — USDA established this program in 1993 to merge and coordinate the business
management and information technology (computer) activities of its agencies, particularly in
the field, in order to support consolidation of field offices into one-stop field service centers
for farmers and other USDA clients. However, the program, which initially had been budgeted
at nearly $3 billion, was terminated by early 1996 in the wake of critical reviews by USDA’s
Office of Inspector General, the General Accounting Office, and others, which found, among
other things, that despite Infoshare, individual USDA agencies were continuing to buy their
own computers, were not sharing information technology with each other, and were still not
operating in a common computing environment. Infoshare has been replaced by another
computer modernization initiative now being designed and coordinated by the Farm Service
Insecticide — A pesticide used to kill, deter, or control insects.
Instream use — Water use taking place within the stream channel. Examples are
hydroelectric power generation, navigation, fish propagation and use, and recreational
activities. Often used in discussions concerning water allocation and/or water rights.
Integrated Farm Management Program (IFMP) — A program authorized by the
FACT Act of 1990 to assist producers in adopting resource-conserving crop rotations by
protecting participants’ base acreage, payment yields, and program payments. The
program’s goal was to enroll 3 to 5 million acres over 5 years. The FAIR Act of 1996
replaced the IFMP with production flexibility contracts and a pilot conservation farm
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) — A program, begun in 1972, that aims to decrease
pesticide applications by teaching farmers to use a variety of alternative control techniques to
capitalize on natural pest mortality. These techniques include biological controls, genetic
resistance, tillage, pruning, and others. Pesticide applications are used only when preventive
practices fail to keep impending crop damage from exceeding the cost of controlling the pest
with a chemical.
Integration — The combination (under the management of one firm) of two or more identical
(horizontal) or successive (vertical) stages in the production or marketing process of a
particular product. Generally the stages are capable of being operated as separate businesses.
The firm that has management responsibility is called the integrator. The poultry industry, for
example, is vertically integrated, from production through processing and distribution.
Diversification, on the other hand, is the production of two or more products by one firm or
Intermediate Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-103) — One of several CCC
export credit guarantee programs.
International commodity agreement — An undertaking by a group of countries to
stabilize trade, supplies, and prices of a commodity for the benefit of participating countries.
An agreement usually involves a consensus on quantities traded, prices, and stock management.
As of mid-1997, the United States is a party to the International Tropical Timber Agreement,
the International Natural Rubber Agreement, and the International Grains Agreement.
International Grains Agreement (IGA) — Replaced the International Wheat Agreement
in 1995. The IGA comprises a Grains Trade Convention (GTC) and a Food Aid Convention
(FAC). The IGA is administered by the International Grains Council (IGC), an
intergovernmental forum for cooperation on wheat and coarse grain matters. The IGA remains
in force until June 30, 1998. The GTC provides for information-sharing, analysis and
consultations on grain market and policy developments. Under the FAC, 11 donor countries
pledge to provide annually specified amounts of food aid to developing countries in the form
of grain suitable for human consumption, or cash to buy suitable grains in recipient countries.
International Grains Council (IGC) — An intergovernmental forum responsible for
administering the International Grains Agreement (IGA).
International Wheat Agreement — Replaced in 1995 by the International Grains
Interregional Project 4 (IR-4) — The term stands for Interregional Research project
number 4, which is a Cooperative State Research education and Extension Service
research program assisting producers of minor crops in the area of pest control. Chemical
pesticides for minor crops are more limited in availability because they are not as profitable
for the chemical industry to produce.
Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) — The federal-state-industry
cooperative body which manages the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.
IP — Income protection program (See revenue insurance.)
IPM — Integrated pest management
IR-4 — Interregional Project 4
IRIS — Instructional resources information system; integrated risk information system
IRM — Integrated resource management
Irradiation — The process of exposing food or other items to radiation of wavelengths
shorter than those of visible light (gamma, x-ray, or ultraviolet) in order to destroy
contamination from microorganisms or other undesirable organisms. It is approved and now
used for some food products.
Irrigation — Applying water (or wastewater) to land areas to supply the water (and
sometimes nutrient) needs of plants. Techniques for irrigating include furrow irrigation,
sprinkler irrigation, trickle (or drip) irrigation, and flooding. About 51 million acres of
land are irrigated in the United States. More acres of corn are irrigated than any other crop,
but only about 15% of the harvested acres. In contrast, irrigation is used for 100% of rice,
81% of orchards, 64% of vegetables, and 36% of cotton. About 40% of freshwater
withdrawals in the nation are for irrigation, making agriculture the single largest user of water.
Nearly half of all irrigation water withdrawals are in the western states, where in some areas
competition for available supplies among uses, including base stream flow, has become
controversial. Consumptive use as a percent of withdrawals is about 56% for irrigation.
Irrigation return flow — Part of artificially applied water that is not consumed by plants
or evaporation, and that eventually “returns” to an aquifer or surface water body, such as a
lake or stream. Commonly used when discussing water conservation techniques and
Irrigation water management — Limiting irrigation applications based on the waterholding capacity of the soil and the need of the crop. The water is applied at a rate and in such
a manner that the crop can use it efficiently and resource losses are minimized. Irrigation
efficiency is the ratio of the amount of water stored in the crop root zone compared to the
amount of water applied. Water conservation has become more important as costs have risen
and demands have grown for wildlife and urban uses.
ISSC — Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference
ITC — See U.S. International Trade Commission.
IWA — International Wheat Agreement
Jones Act — The common reference for Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of
1920, which restricts to U.S. vessels the water transportation of goods between points in the
United States. The purpose of the law is to support the U.S. merchant marine industry, but
agricultural interests generally oppose it because it raises the cost of shipping their goods,
making them less competitive with foreign sources.
JSA — Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture
Karnal bunt — A fungus disease of wheat that reduces yields and causes an unpalatable but
harmless flavor in flour milled from infected kernels. Appearance of the disease in the United
States in early 1996 resulted in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
implementing an emergency quarantine, inspection, and certification program for wheat moving
out of the infested areas, along with regulations on sanitizing machinery and storage facilities.
Many foreign countries have a zero tolerance for karnal bunt in import shipments.
LAA — Local administrative area
Land capability (classification) — The quality of soil resources for agricultural use is
commonly expressed as land capability classes and subclasses, which show, in a general way,
the suitability of soils for most kinds of field crops. Soils are grouped according to their
limitations when they are used to grow field crops, the risk of damage when they are used, and
the way they respond to treatment. Capability classes, the broadest groups, are designated by
Roman numerals I through VIII, with I being the best soils and VIII being the poorest.
Land evaluation and site assessment system (LESA) — A technique that can be used
at the local level to determine the quality of land or agricultural uses and to assess sites or areas
of land for their agricultural viability. It was first used in the early 1980s.
Land grant colleges of agriculture — The Morrill Act of 1862 granted federal land to
states to sell, and instructed each state to use the proceeds to endow a college to teach
“agriculture and the mechanical arts.” States not having any federal land within their borders
were given “land in scrip,” permitting them to sell federal land located in other (usually
western) states in order to establish an agricultural college. The original schools are called the
1862 Institutions. Subsequently, the Morrill Act of 1890 created the black colleges of
agriculture, called the 1890 Institutions. The Elementary and Secondary Education
Reauthorization Act of 1994 then gave land grant status to 29 Native American colleges,
called the 1994 Institutions.
Land grant university — The term used to identify a public university in each state that
was originally established as a land grant college of agriculture pursuant to the Morrill
Act of 1862. In most states the original agricultural colleges grew over time into full-fledged
public universities by adding other colleges (e.g., arts and sciences, medicine, law, etc.); in
states where a public university existed prior to 1862, the first Morrill Act resulted in a
college of agriculture being added to the university. USDA funds go only to the original land
grant colleges of agriculture within the so-called land grant universities.
Land management services contracts — A proposed national forest timber sale
contract where purchasers would be required to perform activities, other than those directly
related to timber cutting and removal, in or near the sale area, in exchange for a reduction in
the stumpage price. Pilot tests of this contract arrangement have been conducted, but its
general use is not authorized.
Land treatment — Any activity or project to improve conservation of soil, water, or other
resources and improve production.
Land use plan — A coordinated collection of data, programs, and activities related to
existing and potential uses of land and resources within a defined area. Commonly associated
with local units of government trying to anticipate and organize uses of space so as to meet
defined goals. For producers, conservation plans are a type of land use plan.
LATS — Long-Term Agricultural Trade Strategy
LD50/ lethal dose / LC50/lethal concentration— The dose (median concentration) of a
toxicant that will kill 50% of the test animals within a designated period. The lower the LC50,
the more toxic the compound. Testing to determine lethal dosages is used to characterize the
acute toxicity of pesticides and other toxic chemicals.
LDCs — Less developed countries
LDP — Loan deficiency payment
Leaching — The process by which chemicals are dissolved and transported through the soil
by percolating water. Pesticides and nutrients from fertilizers or manures may leach from
fields, areas of spills, or feedlots and thereby enter surface water, groundwater, or soil.
Leaching from concentrated sources such as waste sites and loading areas vulnerable to spills
can be prevented by paving or containment with a liner of relatively impermeable material
designed to keep leachate inside a treatment pond, landfill, or a tailings disposal area. Liner
materials include plastic and dense clay.
Legumes — A family of plants, including many valuable food, forage and cover species, such
as peas, beans, soybeans, peanuts, clovers, alfalfas, sweet clovers, lespedezas, vetches, and
kudzu. Sometimes referred to as nitrogen-fixing plants, they can convert nitrogen from the air
to build up nitrogen in the soil. Legumes are an important rotation crop because of their
LESA — Land evaluation and site assessment
Less developed countries (LDCs) — Countries with low per capita incomes. Also known
as third world, poor, under-developed, lesser developed, developing, or economically emerging
Levy — The USDA defines levy as an import charge assessed by a country or group of
countries not in accordance with a definite tariff schedule. The “variable import levy” of the
European Community is an example. The EC’s levy on grains varied from day to day,
depending on the offering price of third-country suppliers. In USDA’s view the variable import
levy is a nontariff trade barrier because, unlike a moderate customs duty or even a quota, it
can completely bar imports. The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture resulted in the
replacement of variable levies by fixed tariffs.
LIBOR — London interbank offered rate
Linters — The short fibers that remain on cottonseed after ginning. They are used mainly for
batting, mattress stuffing, and as a source of cellulose.
Listeria — Listeria monocytogenes, a pathogenic bacterium found widely in nature, can be
carried in a variety of foods such as dairy products, red meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables.
Live weight — The weight of live animals purchased or sold by a producer.
LOAEL — Lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level
Loan deficiency payments — A commodity payment program authorized by the Food
Security Act of 1985 giving USDA discretion to provide direct payments, equal to
marketing loan payments, to wheat, feed grain, upland cotton, rice, or oilseed producers
who agree not to obtain nonrecourse loans, even though they are eligible. Loan deficiency
payments continue to be available under the FAIR Act of 1996 for all loan commodities
except extra-long staple cotton.
Loan forfeiture — Under commodity program rules, a producer or processor who
pledges a stored commodity as collateral to the Commodity Credit Corporation to obtain
a nonrecourse loan can settle the repayment obligation by forfeiting the commodity without any
penalty. This happens, by design, if forfeiture is more profitable than selling the commodity
in the marketplace. In this way the loan program serves a price support function.
Loan forfeiture level, sugar — The lowest market price that a processor must receive
before concluding that forfeiting pledged sugar to the Commodity Credit Corporation is
a more profitable than selling the sugar. USDA calculates the loan forfeiture level to be equal
to the loan rate, plus transportation costs to a refinery (applicable only for raw cane sugar) plus
interest expenses on a nonrecourse loan minus a sugar loan forfeiture penalty.
Loan rate — The price per unit (bushel, bale, pound, or hundredweight, depending on the
commodity) at which the government will provide nonrecourse or recourse loans to farmers
(or others), enabling them to hold their commodities for later sale.
Long — (1) One who has bought a futures contract or option to establish a market
position; (2) a market position that obligates the holder to take delivery; (3) one who owns an
inventory of commodities. The opposite of short.
Low-flow irrigation systems — These systems (drip, trickle, and micro sprinklers) provide
water in small volumes and generally provide water to plants with less waste than furrow
irrigation. Drip and trickle systems apply water through small holes in small diameter tubes
placed on or below the surface of the field. Another type of system, micro sprinklers, supplies
water from low-volume sprinkler heads located above the surface. Low flow systems are
expensive and their use is generally limited to high-value crops such as vegetables, fruits, and
Lump-sum sales — A common term for tree measurement sales.
M-W price — Minnesota-Wisconsin price
Mad cow disease — The common term used for bovine spongiform encephalopathy
Major land resource area (MLRA) — Major land resource areas are geographically
associated land resource units delineated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service
and characterized by a particular pattern that combines soils, water, climate, vegetation, land
use, and type of farming. There are 204 MLRAs in the United States, ranging in size from less
than 500,000 acres to more than 60 million acres.
Make allowance (or milk manufacturing marketing adjustment) — The margin
between the government support price for milk and the CCC’s purchase price for butter, nonfat
dry milk, and cheese. This margin is administratively set to cover the costs of “making” milk
into butter, nonfat dry milk, or cheese to reach the desired level of prices for milk in
MAP — Market Access Program
MARAD — Maritime Administration
Margin — The amount of money or collateral deposited by a customer with a broker, by a
broker with a clearing member, or by a clearing member with the clearinghouse, for the
purpose of insuring against loss on open futures contracts. The margin is not partial
payment on a purchase. (1) Initial margin is the total amount of margin per contract required
by the broker when a futures position is opened; (2) maintenance margin is a sum that must be
maintained on deposit at all times. If the equity in a customer’s account drops to, or under, the
level because of adverse price movement, the broker must issue a margin call to restore the
customer’s equity. Sometimes called a performance bond.
Margin call — (1) A request from a brokerage firm to a customer to bring margin deposits
up to initial levels; (2) a request by the clearinghouse to a clearing member to make a deposit
of original margin, or a daily or intra-day variation payment, because of adverse price
movement, based on positions carried by the clearing member.
Mariculture — The form of aquaculture where fish, shellfish, or aquatic plants are
cultured in a salt water environment.
Market Access Program (MAP) — MAP, previously called the Market Promotion
Program or MPP, is administered by the Foreign Agricultural Service and uses funds from
the Commodity Credit Corporation. It helps producers, exporters, private companies,
and other trade organizations finance promotional activities for U.S. agricultural products.
MAP is designed to encourage development, maintenance, and expansion of commercial
agricultural export markets. Activities financed include consumer promotions, market
research, technical assistance, and trade servicing. The Export Incentive Program, which
is part of MAP, helps U.S. commercial entities conduct brand promotion activities including
advertising, trade shows, in-store demonstrations, and trade seminars. MAP is authorized in
Section 244 of the FAIR Act of 1996. The program promotes exports of specific U.S.
commodities or products in specific markets. Under MAP, program participants are
reimbursed for their expenses in carrying out approved promotional activities. Participating
organizations include nonprofit trade associations, state regional trade groups, and private
companies. Funding authority is limited to $90 million annually for fiscal years 1996-2002.
Market allocation — A quantity provision in a fruit or vegetable marketing order
specifying the maximum amount of the regulated commodity that can be sold for a given use
or market (such as the domestic fresh market).
Market basket — Average quantities of consumables, including U.S. farm foods, purchased
per household for a given base period, used to compute an index of retail prices.
Market price — The price per bushel (or pound or hundredweight) of an agricultural
commodity paid in the private sector. It can sometimes refer to the price paid at domestic
seaports or large inland terminal markets (such as daily cash prices listed in newspapers) and
sometimes refers to the farm price.
Market Promotion Program (MPP) — An export promotion program authorized by the
FACT Act of 1990 that replaced the Targeted Export Assistance (TEA) program authorized
by the Food Security Act of 1985. The MPP was renamed the Market Access Program
(MAP) under the FAIR Act of 1996.
Market structure — Characteristics of an industry that relate to its economic performance,
such as the number of buyers and sellers, product differentiation among firms, barriers to entry,
costs, degree of integration, and diversification.
Market transition payments — Referred to variously as AMTA payments, contract
payments, or production flexibility contract payments made to farmers under Title I (the
Agriculture Market Transition Act (AMTA)) of the FAIR Act of 1996.
Marketing assessments — Producers and first purchasers of some supported commodities
are required to pay an assessment as a contribution toward achieving budget deficit reduction
targets. Under the FAIR Act of 1996, assessments are imposed on sugar processors and on
producers and first buyers of peanuts. Tobacco also is subject to deficit reduction assessments.
The FAIR Act of 1996 eliminated the milk marketing assessment.
Marketing assistance loans — Nonrecourse loans made available to producers of
wheat, feed grains, upland and ELS cotton, rice, soybeans, and minor oilseeds under the
Agricultural Market Transition Act provisions in the FAIR Act of 1996. The new law
largely continues the commodity loan programs as they were under previous law. Loan rate
caps are specified in the law. Marketing loan repayment provisions apply should market
prices drop below the loan rates. For farmers who forego the use of marketing assistance
loans, loan deficiency payment rules apply.
Marketing certificate — A certificate that may be redeemed for a specified amount of
CCC-owned commodities. The certificates may be generic or for a specific commodity.
Marketing loan provisions — A loan settlement provision, first authorized by the Food
Security Act of 1985, that allows producers to repay nonrecourse loans at less than the
announced loan rates whenever the world price or loan repayment rate for the commodity is
less than the loan rate. Marketing loan provisions became mandatory for soybeans and other
oilseeds, upland cotton, and rice and were permitted for wheat, feed grains, and honey under
amendments made by the FACT Act of 1990. The FAIR Act of 1996 retains the
marketing loan provisions for feed grains, wheat, rice, upland cotton, and oilseeds.
Marketing (or crop) year — Generally, the 12-month period, from the beginning of a new
harvest, over which a crop is marketed. For example, for wool, mohair, and Hawaiian
sugarcane, the marketing year is January 1-December 31; for honey, it is April 1-March 31;
for wheat, barley, and oats, it is June 1-May 31; for flue-cured tobacco, it is July 1-June 30;
for cotton, peanuts, and rice, it is August 1-July 31; for sugar beets, it is September 1-August
31; for corn, sorghum, soybeans, mainland sugarcane, all tobacco but flue-cured, and milk, it
is October 1-September 30.
Marketing orders and agreements — Orders and agreements (authorized by the
Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended) allow producers to
promote orderly marketing through collectively influencing the supply, demand, or price of a
particular commodity so as to create orderly marketing. Research and promotion can be
financed with pooled funds. Once approved by a required number of a commodity’s
producers—usually two-thirds—the marketing order is binding on all handlers of the
commodity within the geographic area of regulation. It may limit the quantity of goods
marketed, or establish the grade, size, maturity, or quality of the goods. Marketing orders
have been established for milk, fruits, vegetables, and other commodities. Marketing
agreements may contain more diversified provisions, but are enforceable only against those
handlers who enter into the agreement. An order can be terminated when a majority of all
producers favor its termination or when USDA determines that the order no longer serves its
Marketing quotas (or allotments) — Authorized by the Agricultural Adjustment Act
of 1938, these quotas (sometimes called poundage quotas) limit marketings of certain
commodities. The marketing quota, which must be approved by at least two-thirds of the
eligible producers voting in a referendum, is intended to ensure an adequate and normal supply
of the commodity, and ensure that production and supplies are not excessive. Growers who
market in excess of their quotas pay penalties on the “excess” and are ineligible for government
price-support loans. Quotas have been suspended for wheat, feed grains, and cotton since the
1960s. Rice quotas were abolished in 1981. Marketing quotas still are used in conjunction
with the tobacco program and the peanut program. The authority for standby marketing
allotments for domestically produced sugar and crystalline fructose mandated by the FACT
Act of 1990 was eliminated under the FAIR Act of 1996 (JW)
Marketing spread — See farm to retail price spread.
Maximum tolerated dose (MTD) — Loosely, the highest dose of a chemical that when
administered to a group of test animals does not increase the death rate during a long-term
study (other than deaths due to tumors caused by the chemical being tested, that is). The
purpose of administering MTD is to determine whether long-term exposure to a chemical might
lead to any adverse health effects in a population, when the level of exposure is not sufficient
to cause premature mortality due to short-term toxic effects. The maximum dose is used,
rather than a lower dose, to reduce the number of animals that need to be tested (and thus, the
cost of animal testing), in order to detect an effect that occurs only rarely. This analysis is used
in establishing chemical residue tolerances in foods.
mbf — Thousand board feet
MBTA — Migratory Bird Treaty Act
McIntire-Stennis Act of 1962 — P.L. 87-788 (October 10, 1962) makes funding available
to the state agricultural experiment stations and to forestry schools and programs at the
land grant colleges of agriculture for forestry research. The research covers such areas
as reforestation, woodlands and related watershed management, outdoor recreation, wildlife
habitats and wood utilization. Many of the research projects are performed cooperatively with
scientists at the laboratories of USDA’s Forest Service. USDA distributes McIntire-Stennis
funds by a formula that allocates $10,000 to each state, with 40% of the remainder being
distributed according to a state’s share of the nation’s total commercial forest land, 40%
according to the value of its timber cut annually, and 20% according to its state appropriation
for forestry research.
MDM — Mechanically deboned meat
Medfly — A shortened name for the Mediterranean fruit fly, a destructive pest of fruits and
vegetables that is found throughout most of Central America. The Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service is involved in programs to keep the Medfly from spreading north
into Mexico, where it could easily enter the United States on imported winter fruits and
Mega-reg — A term meaning a large set of regulations that some have used to describe the
extensive new rules issued by USDA in July 1996 that are aimed at controlling pathogens in
meat and poultry products, including mandatory hazard analysis and critical control
point (HACCP) plans.
Memorandum of agreement (MOA) — An agreement between federal agencies, or
divisions/units within an agency or department, which delineate tasks, jurisdiction, standard
operating procedures or other matters which the agencies or units are duly authorized and
directed to conduct. Sometimes referred to as a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
Mercado Commun del Sur (MERCOSUR) — A customs union between Argentina,
Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, which came into effect on January 1, 1995. Chile and Bolivia
have become associate members.
Merchant Marine Act of 1920 — P.L. 66-261, also known as the Jones Act, provides
for the promotion and maintenance of a U.S. merchant marine. Provisions dealing with
cabotage (i.e.,with coastal shipping) require that all goods transported by water between U.S.
ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens,
and crewed wholly by U.S. citizens. In addition, amendments to the Jones Act, known as the
Cargo Preference Act, provide permanent legislation for the transportation of waterborne
cargoes in U.S.-flag vessels.
MERCOSUR — Mercado Commun del Sur (Southern Cone Common Market)
Methane — A gas created by anaerobic decomposition of organic compounds. Natural gas
is composed mostly of methane. Methane is a so-called greenhouse gas (see greenhouse
effect). Agricultural wastes, especially animal wastes, are a major source of methane releases
to the atmosphere.
Methanol — A liquid alcohol (also known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol), formed in the
destructive distillation of wood or made synthetically, and used especially as an alternative fuel,
a gasoline additive, a solvent, an antifreeze, or a denaturant for ethyl alcohol. As a gasoline
additive it lowers the carbon monoxide emissions but increases hydrocarbon emissions.
Methyl bromide — A fumigant used for soil treatment, to control pests in postharvest
storage, for killing pests on fruits, vegetables, and grain going into export trade, for plant
quarantine treatment, and for fumigation of buildings. Because methyl bromide contributes to
depletion of stratospheric ozone, it is subject to phaseout requirements of the 1987 Montreal
Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances and Section 602 of the Clean Air Act
(CAA). The Montreal Protocol and Vienna Adjustments require a complete phase out in
industrialized countries by the year 2010, and a future freeze in developing country use. The
Clean Air Act bans U.S. production and import as of January 1, 2001. The produce industry
in the United States and abroad are seeking exemptions for some agricultural applications after
the phaseout dates. U.S. growers have petitioned the EPA to extend the domestic phaseout date
to be the same as other industrialized countries under the Montreal Protocol. All methyl
bromide regulations so far exempt quarantine and pre-shipment treatment of agricultural
commodities; however, this exemption is being reevaluated after completion of additional
scientific assessments. Methyl bromide is regulated as a pesticide under the Federal
Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as a hazardous substance under
the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and is subject to reporting
requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act
Metric ton — Usually abbreviated mt. or MT, a metric ton is 2,204.62 pounds, compared
to a short ton of 2,000 pounds. Generally, international agricultural trade data are cited in
MFN — Most-favored-nation
MIF — Milk Industry Foundation
Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 — P.L. 65-186 (July 3, 1918), as amended, regulates
the taking of wild birds and implements the provisions of four different bilateral treaties for
bird conservation (with Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia). Very few of its provisions affect
farmers more than any other citizen, save when bird populations become pests. The act and
the associated treaties allow taking of birds to prevent serious injury “to the agricultural or
other interests in any particular community.” As implemented, the practice has been to use
non-lethal methods where possible, especially for native species. The control of bird pests is
managed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of USDA.
Milk equivalent — A measure of the quantity of fluid milk used in a processed dairy
product, usually expressed on a milkfat basis. For example, one pound of cheese is the
equivalent of 9.88 pounds of milk.
Milk-feed price ratio — A measure of the value of 16% protein ration (feed) to one pound
of whole milk. As with the hog-corn ratio, this relationship is an indicator of the
profitability of milk production.
Milk marketing orders — Administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service, federal
milk marketing orders were first instituted in the 1930s to promote orderly marketing
conditions by, among other things, applying a uniform system of classified pricing
throughout the farm milk market. Federal milk marketing orders regulate handlers that sell
milk or milk products within an order region, by requiring them to pay not less than an
established minimum price for the Grade A milk they purchase from dairy producers,
depending on how the milk is used. This classified pricing system requires handlers to pay
a higher price for milk used for fluid consumption (Class I) than for milk used in manufactured
dairy products such as yogurt, ice cream, cheese, butter and nonfat dry milk (Class II, Class
III and Class III-A products). The FAIR Act of 1996 requires USDA to consolidate the
number of federal milk marketing orders into 10 to 14 regions, down from 32, by 1999.
Minnesota-Wisconsin price (M-W price) — A component of the basic formula price
for farm milk used in federal milk marketing orders. It is a survey of the average price
Minnesota and Wisconsin plants are paying farmers for Grade B milk to be used in processed
Minimal nutritional value — Refers to foods that may not be sold in competition with the
school lunch and breakfast programs. These are foods that USDA has determined contain little
if any nutritional value. For example, sugar candy, soda pop without fruit juices, and chewing
gum are considered to be foods of minimal nutritional value. Candy containing nuts or
chocolate is considered to have some nutritional value.
Minimum access — In the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, countries are
obliged to provide minimum levels of imports for products subject to tariffication. Access is
assured by tariff-rate quotas.
Minimum tillage — The minimum soil manipulation necessary for crop production.
Conservation tillage, reduced tillage, and no-till farming are related terms.
Minor crops — Crops that may be very high in value but that are not widely grown. Many
fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts come under this definition. The IR-4 program is one publicly
funded program to help producers of minor crops with their unique problems.
Minor oilseeds — Oilseed crops other than soybeans and peanuts; usually a reference to
the other oilseeds eligible for marketing assistance loans under the FAIR Act of 1996
(sunflower seed, canola, rapeseed, safflower, mustard seed, and flaxseed).
Mitigation bank, wetlands — A bank is created when wetlands at a site are restored,
enhanced or created in advance of destruction of similar wetlands in nearby locations. The
bank then sells “credits” in the bank to permit applicants under Section 404 who are required,
as a permit condition, to offset the negative impacts their project will have on wetlands. Banks
may be established by public entities or private enterprise. The FAIR Act of 1996 has a
provision allowing USDA to establish a pilot banking program.
mmt — Million metric tons
MOA — Memorandum of agreement
Model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act — See Bill Emerson Good Samaritan
Act of 1996.
Monetization — A P.L. 480 provision added by the Food Security Act of 1985 that
allows private voluntary organizations to sell a small percentage of donated P.L. 480
commodities within the recipient country. The currency generated by these sales can then be
used for such purposes as defraying the cost of food distribution within the country.
Monoculture — A pattern of crop production that relies on a single plant variety.
Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances — An international agreement, to
which the U.S. is a signatory, for controlling emissions of chemicals that deplete stratospheric
ozone (including methyl bromide). The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 contain
provisions for implementing the Montreal Protocol, as well as explicit, separate authority for
EPA to regulate ozone depleting chemicals.
Morbidity — Rate of disease incidence; an important measure in epidemiological studies.
Morrill Act of 1862 — Enacted July 2, 1862 (chapter 130, 12 Stat. 503), this law allocated
federal land to each state and directed the states to sell the land and use the proceeds to
establish a college dedicated to the agricultural and mechanical arts. States without federal
lands within their borders received land in scrip, giving them the right to sell federal land
located in other states. The act resulted in the establishment of the land grant colleges of
agriculture. The purpose of the Act was not only to improve the economic and social welfare
of farmers, but also to make a higher education with a practical application generally available
to all segments of U.S. society. The Act pertained only to the original establishment of the
colleges of agriculture, and is not an authority under which the colleges currently receive
Morrill Act of 1890 — Enacted August 30, 1890, (chapter 841, 26 Stat. 417), this law
authorized additional direct appropriations for the land grant colleges of agriculture that
had been established under the Morrill Act of 1862. The most significant feature of the
second Morrill Act was that the 1862 schools could receive the additional funds only if they
admitted blacks into their programs or if they provided separate but equal agricultural higher
education to black students. In the period following the Civil War, sixteen southern states
established separate land grant colleges of agriculture for black students under this Act;
Congress designated Tuskegee University an 1890 institution at a later date. Federal funds for
research and extension at the 1890 schools are provided under subsequent acts, not the second
Most-favored-nation treatment (MFN) — A commitment that a country will extend to
another country the lowest tariff rates it applies to any third country. MFN is a basic principle
of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) (1947). Almost all countries are
effectively accorded permanent MFN status by the United States. However, Title IV of the
Trade Act of 1974 established conditions on U.S. MFN tariff treatment to certain
non-market economies, one of which is certain freedom-of-emigration requirements (better
known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment). The Act authorizes the President to waive a
country’s full compliance with Jackson-Vanik under specified conditions, and this must be
renewed by June 3 of each year. Once the President does so, the waiver is automatic unless
Congress passes (and sustains a Presidential veto of) a disapproval resolution. MFN status
for China, which had been originally suspended in 1951, was restored in 1980 and has been
continued in effect through subsequent annual Presidential extensions. Since the Tiananmen
Square incident in 1989, however, the annual renewal of China’s MFN status has been a
source of considerable debate in the Congress. Several Members have sought through
legislation to terminate China’s MFN status or to impose additional conditions relating to
improvements in China’s actions on various trade and nontrade issues. Agricultural interests
generally have opposed attempts to block MFN renewal for Congress, contending that several
billion dollars annually in current and future U.S. agricultural exports to China could be
jeopardized if that country retaliated.
MOU — Memorandum of understanding (See memorandum of agreement.)
MPP — Market Promotion Program
MRL — Maximum-residue limit (See registration and pesticide.)
MTD — Maximum tolerated dose
MTN — Multilateral trade negotiations
Mulch — A natural or artificial layer of plant residue or other material on the soil surface.
Mulch reduces erosion, conserves soil moisture, inhibits weed growth, and can provide the
soil with organic matter as it breaks down. Mulch till prepares the soil so as to leave plant
residues (or other mulching materials) on or near the surface.
Multilateral agreement — A trade agreement involving three or more countries (as with
the World Trade Organization) in contrast to a bilateral agreement (as with the USCanada agreement) involving only two countries.
Multilateral trade negotiations (MTN) — Negotiations between General Agreement
on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) member nations that are conducted under the auspices of
the GATT and that are aimed at reducing tariff and nontariff trade barriers. The World
Trade Organization has now replaced the GATT as the administrative body.
Multiple basing points — A method of regional pricing in milk marketing orders that
would allow more than one basing point, or “surplus area,” to be used. Surplus areas are
administratively defined as areas with low Class I utilization, meaning that a relatively small
percentage of the milk produced in an area is used in that area as Class I (fluid) milk. In a
multiple basing point system, the order used as the basing point has the smallest Class I
differential (the difference between the Class I price and the Class III price). The Class I
differential for other orders is then based on transportation costs to the nearest basing point
plus the minimum differential.
Multiple component pricing — The practice of valuing farm milk according to the value
of its protein, fat, and mineral content. This practice has been adopted by many regions for
federal milk marketing orders. Historically, milk was priced solely on the basis of fat
Multiple use — According to the Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 1960 (P.L.
86-517, June 12, 1960), as amended, multiple use of the national forests means the
“harmonious and coordinated management of the various resources, each with the other,
without impairment of the productivity of the land, with consideration being given to the
relative values of the various resources, and not necessarily the combination of uses that will
give the greatest dollar return or the greatest unit output.” Multiple use implies a sustained
yield of outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish values.
MUSY — Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 1960 (P.L. 86-517, June 12, 1960)
Mutagen — An agent that causes a permanent genetic change in a cell other than that which
occurs during normal growth. Testing to determine mutagenicity is one component of assessing
the potential chronic toxicity of pesticides and other chemicals.
Mutual self-help housing — A program to assist groups of low-income families in building
their own homes. Each family is expected to contribute at least 700 hours of labor in building
homes for each other. Participating families generally have low income and are unable to pay
for homes built by the contract method. The homes are generally financed by Section 502
NAA — National Aquaculture Act of 1980
NACD — National Association of Conservation Districts
NACMCF — National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods
NACO — National Association of Counties
NAD — National Appeals Division
NADA — New animal drug applications
NAEGA — North American Export Grain Association
NAFTA — North American Free Trade Agreement
NAFV — National Association of Federal Veterinarians
NAHMS — National Animal Health Monitoring System
NAL — National Agricultural Library
NAMP — National Association of Meat Purveyors
NAP — Noninsured Assistance Payments
NARC&DC — National Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils
NAS — National Academy of Sciences
NASCOE — National Association of State and County Office Employees
NASDA — National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
NASS — National Agricultural Statistics Service
NASULGC — National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges
National Academy of Sciences (NAS) — An institution created by Congress in 1863 to
provide science-based advice to the government. The sister organizations associated with the
Academy are the National Academy of Engineers, Institute of Medicine, and the National
Research Council. The Academies and the Institute are honorary societies that elect new
members to their ranks each year. The bulk of the institutions science-policy and technical
work is conducted by the National Research Council (NRC), created expressly for that
purpose. The NRC's Board on Agriculture addresses issues confronting agriculture, food, and
related environmental topics. http://www.nas.edu/
National Agricultural Library (NAL) — A national depository of scientific and popular
agricultural information located at the Agricultural Research Service’s research center
in Beltsville, Maryland.
NAL’s administration was merged with ARS in 1994.
National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act — Title XIV
of Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 made USDA the leading federal agency for
agricultural research, extension, and teaching programs. It also consolidated the funding for
National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory
Board — A 30-member board established by the FAIR Act of 1996 to replace three
previous advisory committees. The Board advises USDA on national priorities and policies
related to agricultural research, extension, and education.
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) — A USDA agency that collects and
publishes statistics on the U.S. food and fiber system, with offices located in each state’s
department of agriculture. http://www.usda.gov/nass/
National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) — National standards set by EPA
under authority of the Clean Air Act; NAAQS define the maximum allowable concentrations
of specified air pollutants in outdoor (ambient) air. NAAQS have been set for carbon
monoxide, particulate matter, sulfur oxides, nitrogen dioxide, lead, and ozone. “Primary”
NAAQS protect human health, with a margin of safety; “secondary” NAAQS protect human
welfare, which includes effects on soils, water, crops, vegetation, materials, etc.
National Appeals Division (NAD) — The National Appeals Division of USDA was
established by the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 (Title II of
P.L. 103-354) to consolidate and improve the hearing procedures for USDA claims and
disputes. The statute and regulations provide that certain sections of the Administrative
Procedure Act (APA), including the hearing requirements, do not apply to NAD
proceedings. The NAD procedures govern informal and formal hearings covering appeals of
decisions made by the rural development agencies, Natural Resources Conservation
Service, Risk Management Agency, and the Farm Service Agency. The statute and
regulations set forth the procedures for hearings, requirements for the presiding officers,
requirements for communications between the decision-maker and persons interested in the
matter, and other important issues. After a decision is made by a hearing officer, both the
appellant and the agency have the right to a review by the NAD director, who then issues a
final determination. The final determination of the NAD is reviewable and enforceable by the
U.S. District Court in accordance with the judicial review provisions of the APA.
National Aquaculture Act of 1980 — P.L. 96-362 (September 26, 1980), as amended,
is intended to promote and support the development of private aquaculture and to ensure
coordination among the various federal agencies that have aquaculture programs and policies.
It provided for a national aquaculture policy, including a formal National Aquaculture
Development Plan; established a Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture on which officials of
USDA, Commerce, Interior, and nine other federal agencies sit; designated USDA as the lead
agency for coordination; and authorized the National Aquaculture Information Center within
USDA’s National Agricultural Library.
National Cheese Exchange (NCE) — A now defunct private non-profit corporation that
operated in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Every Friday morning for one-half hour, members of the
NCE met to buy or sell cheddar cheese in 40-pound blocks and 500-pound barrels on the
exchange. The closing prices were published and widely circulated throughout the dairy
industry, and were used as the basis for buying and selling cheese throughout the food
distribution system. Up until April 1997 the USDA used changes in the NCE price as a
principal component in determining the basic formula price for all milk sold under federal
milk marketing orders. Activity on the NCE was regulated by the Wisconsin Department
of Agriculture and the Wisconsin Attorney General.
National Early Warning System — A program run by the Centers for Disease Control
to increase federal support to state health departments to detect foodborne diseases by
increasing the number of scientists available to investigate foodborne outbreaks and by
enhancing laboratory-based surveillance of important foodborne pathogens.
National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 — P.L. 91-190 (January 1, 1970) made a
declaration of national environmental policy and established a continuing responsibility of the
federal government to reach a number of substantive goals that embody nationwide
improvements in environmental quality. Federal policies, regulations, and laws must be
administered in accordance with NEPA. To insure this is accomplished, all federal agencies
must consider the environmental consequences of their actions through the preparation of
environmental impact statements (EIS). Also, the law creates the Council on Environmental
Quality in the Executive Office of the President.
National Estuary Program — A program established under the Clean Water Act
Amendments of 1987 to develop and implement conservation and management plans for
protecting estuaries and restoring and maintaining their chemical, physical, and biological
integrity, as well as controlling point source and nonpoint source pollution sources.
National farm program acreage — The number of harvested acres of feed grains, wheat,
and cotton needed nationally to meet domestic and export use and to accomplish any desired
increase or decrease in carryover levels. The acreage base for an individual farm was
calculated as the producer’s share of the national farm program acreage. The FAIR Act
of 1996 eliminated the need to calculate a national program acreage.
National forest — Originally, forest reserves, established by Presidential proclamation
mostly between 1891 and 1909. Today, the boundaries of the 155 national forests cannot be
modified without congressional authorization, although many (especially eastern) national
forests are combined for easier administration. The 120 administrative units, commonly
referred to as national forests, are managed by the Forest Service for multiple use and
sustained yield of renewable resources, as determined in forest plans.
National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976 — P.L. 94-588 (October 22, 1976)
largely amended the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of
1974, which required a national, strategic planning process for renewable resources for the
Forest Service, and comprehensive, interdisciplinary land and resource management plans
for units of the National Forest System. The law was seen as necessary, because a lawsuit
(commonly known as the Monongahela decision) had invalidated most timber practices in the
national forests. NFMA substantially enacted detailed guidance for forest planning,
particularly in regulating when, where, and how much timber could be harvested and in
requiring public involvement in preparing and revising the plans. NFMA also established the
Salvage Sale Fund and expanded other Forest Service trust funds and special accounts.
National Forest System (NFS) — The 192 million acres administered by the Forest
Service for multiple use; comprised of 155 national forests (in 120 units) with 187
million acres, 20 national grasslands with 4 million acres, and 112 other units (e.g.,
purchase units, land utilization projects, research and experimental areas) with about 500,000
acres. While the NFS lands are concentrated in the West, the 25 million acres east of the 100th
Meridian (the Great Plains) make the Forest Service the largest land manager in the East.
National grasslands — A type of unit designated by USDA and under Title II of the
Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, permanently held by USDA as part of the National
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) — An agency within the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration at the Department of Commerce that conducts voluntary
seafood inspection on a fee-for-service basis, mainly as a marketing and quality program rather
than as a food safety program.
National Milk Laboratory Certification Program — Under a Memorandum of
Understanding with the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments, the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) conducts a national certification program for state centralized
laboratories which test dairy products for contaminants and residues. FDA maintains
accreditation of milk laboratories and sample collection surveillance procedures by making
triennial on-site evaluations of laboratory facilities and equipment and by testing annually the
performance skills of analysts. The FDA also standardizes, evaluates, and certifies state and
territorial milk laboratory evaluation officers and state sampling surveillance officers.
National Natural Resources Conservation Foundation (NNRCF) — A nonprofit
private organization established by the FAIR Act of 1996 to promote and fund innovative
solutions to conservation problems through effective partnerships. The Foundation can accept
gifts and raise money. The NNRCF will conduct research, undertake educational activities,
support demonstration projects, and make grants to state and local governments and nonprofit
organizations. Appropriations are authorized at $1 million per year for 1997-99, but no
appropriations have been provided and the Foundation is not yet operational. Similar
foundations have been created for several other natural resource areas.
National Organic Standards Board — A board established by Title 21 of the FACT
Act of 1990 to develop national standards for practices and substances to be used in organic
production. Producers meeting these standards can sell their products as “USDA Certified
National Partnership Office (NPO) — The NPO is responsible for implementing
National Rural Development Partnership policies and activities. The NPO provides
budgetary and financial technical assistance to State Rural Development Councils.
National Research Council (NRC) — See National Academy of Sciences.
National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (NRI) — Generally
referred to as the NRI, this program makes grants to scientists at both public and private
laboratories for basic and applied agricultural research in priority areas as designated in the
research title of the FACT Act of 1990. Grants are awarded competitively through a peerreview process.
National resources inventory (NRI) — A periodic survey of status and changing
conditions of the soil, water, and related resources on private land conducted by USDA’s
Natural Resource Conservation Service. The survey is conducted every 5 years; the most
recent survey was in 1992.
National Rural Development Partnership — A collaborative effort comprised of
representatives of the federal, state, local, and tribal governments, the private sector, and the
nonprofit sector to promote rural development across the nation. The principle component of
the Partnership is the State Rural Development Councils.
National Rural Development Council (NRDC) — This is the federal component of the
National Rural Development Partnership. The NRDC comprises representatives from
various federal departments and national organizations whose activities or policies may affect
rural areas. The NRDC provides guidance for the Partnership and works on behalf of State
Rural Development Councils at the national level.
National Rural Economic Development Institute (NREDI) — Helps develop the
capacity of the National Rural Development Partnership and its constituent
organizations (State Rural Development Councils and the National Rural
Development Council) by providing economic development-related training and consulting
National School Lunch Act — P.L. 79-396 (June 4, 1946) authorized federal cash and
commodity support for school lunch and milk programs, “...as a measure of national
security...” in response to claims that many American men had been rejected for military
service in World War II because of diet-related health problems. Beginning in the early 1930's
federal support had been provided for school lunch programs through donations of surplus
commodities, and when these dried up during the War, by grants provided under annual
appropriations laws. The original National School Lunch Act established multi-year
authority for the financing of school feeding programs. It since has been amended numerous
times and now permanently authorizes the national school lunch program and the child
and adult care food program. Federally guaranteed subsidies are provided for every lunch
served, with higher amounts generally provided for lunches served to low-income children who
meet income criteria set by the law. This Act also requires federal payments for meals and
snacks served to children and elderly and disabled persons in day care facilities (the child and
adult care food program) and children in summer programs operated in low-income areas
(the summer food service program), and it requires a set value of commodity assistance
for each lunch served under these programs. Other activities supported by this Act include
meals supplements for children in afterschool care, a homeless children nutrition program, meal
service for Department of Defense overseas dependents schools , and an information
National School Lunch Program — Federal meal service program that, in FY1996,
provided federal reimbursements for over 4.3 billion lunches served in nearly 88,000 schools
to 26.5 million children (12.7 million children received free meals, 1.98 million bought
reduced price meals, and 11.3 million bought so-called paid meals). Permanently
authorized by the National School Lunch Act, federal funding is provided in the form of
cash reimbursements for each lunch served, varied in amount by the family income of the
participating child. All children in participating schools and residential institutions are eligible
for a federally subsidized meal, regardless of family income. However, free meals must be
offered to children from families with incomes below 130% of the federal poverty income level,
and reduced price meals to those with family incomes between 130 and 185% of the poverty
National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) — A program under which the federal
Food and Drug Administration works cooperatively with the states, the Interstate
Shellfish Sanitation Conference, and industry to assure the safety of molluscan shellfish
(clams, oysters, mussels). Among other things, all such products entering interstate commerce
must be handled by state-certified dealers, properly tagged, tracked by appropriate records, and
be processed in plants that meet sanitation requirements. FDA continually reviews state
shellfish control programs for effectiveness.
National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) — Consists of all of the National Wildlife
Refuges, the Waterfowl Production Areas, and certain other small tracts managed by
states under cooperative agreements with the Fish and Wildlife Service. In general, these
areas are managed primarily for conservation of wild plants and animals (particularly
waterfowl). Other uses, such as recreation, grazing, energy development, etc., are permitted
to the extent they are compatible with the conservation purpose. Some refuges have additional
purposes defined in law.
National Wool Act of 1954 — Title VII of Agricultural Act of 1954 was designated
the National Wool Act and provided for a new and permanent price support program for
wool and mohair to encourage increased domestic production. Price support for wool and
mohair was in effect through marketing year 1995, at which time it was terminated under the
explicit mandate of P.L. 103-130 (November 1, 1993).
Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) — A USDA agency responsible for
developing and carrying out national soil and water programs in cooperation with landowners,
operators, and others. It was created in 1994 reorganization legislation by merging the Soil
Conservation Service and many of the conservation cost-sharing programs of the Agricultural
Stabilization and Conservation Service. The NRCS is responsible for developing and carrying
out national soil and water conservation programs in cooperation with landowners, farm
operators, and others. More than 70% of the approximately 12,000 employees work at the
NAWD — National Association of WIC Directors
NAWG — National Association of Wheat Growers
NAWGA — National Wholesale Grocers Association
NBC — National Broiler Council
NCA — National crop acreage
NCAMP — National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
NCBA — National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; National Cooperative Business Association
NCC — National Cotton Council
NCE — National Cheese Exchange
NCFAP — National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy
NCFC — National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
NCGA — National Corn Growers Association
NCIMS — National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments
NDC — National Dairy Council
NE — Northern Europe (price)
NEPA — National Environmental Policy Act of 1970
NEPA analysis — Analyses conducted during the preparation of documents required under
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, particularly environmental assessments
and environmental impact statements.
Net cash income — A farm’s actual cash receipts and expenses in a given year, regardless
of the year the goods sold were produced. In general, it serves as an indicator of the short-term
financial condition of agricultural producers and their ability to pay household expenses, farm
operating expenses, loan payments, and to purchase capital assets such as machinery. It
consists of cash receipts from farm marketings of crop and livestock products, other cash
income from such farm-related sources as machine hire, custom work and farm recreational
activities, and direct government payments, less production expenses paid in cash. It excludes
the non-monetary components of gross farm income and net farm income.
Net farm income — The return (both monetary and non-monetary) to farm operators for
their labor, management and capital, after all production expenses have been paid (that is,
gross farm income minus production expenses). It includes net income from farm
production as well as net income attributed to the rental value of farm dwellings, the value of
commodities consumed on the farm, depreciation, and inventory changes.
Net income — As relates to the food stamp program, net monthly income is an amount
calculated for each food stamp household that, together with its size, effectively determines its
food stamp benefit. It is calculated by reducing the household’s total cash monthly income by
a series of deductions. The lower a household’s net income, the larger its food stamp benefit.
Net pen culture — A type of aquaculture where fish remain captive throughout their lives
in marine pens built from nets, used by the salmon industry.
NET — Nutrition Education and Training Program
NFI — National Fisheries Institute
NFMA — National Forest Management Act of 1976
NFO — National Farmers Organization
NFPA — National Food Processors Association; National Forest Products Association
NFS — National Forest System
NFU — National Farmers Union
NGA — National Governors Association; National Grocers Association
NGFA — National Grain and Feed Association
NHCP — National Handbook of Conservation Practices
Nitrate — A nitrogen compound. Nitrate polution of drinking water, shallow wells being
particularly vulnerable, is of concern because infants are particularly sensitive. A nitrate
drinking water standard has been set under the Safe Drinking Water Act. An EPA national
survey of drinking water wells conducted from 1988 to 1990 indicated that 2.4% of rural
domestic wells contained nitrate at or above the 10 mg/L standard. Higher rates of
contamination have been found in areas of high vulnerability; for example, surveys along the
upper Des Moines river indicate that 20 to 30% of wells exceed the standard.
Nitrogen — An element found in the air and in all plant and animal tissues. For many crops,
nitrogen fertilizer is essential for economic yields. However, nitrogen can also be a pollutant
when nitrogen compounds are mobilized in the environment (e.g., leach from fertilized or
manured fields), are discharged from septic tanks or feedlots, volatilize to the air, or are emitted
from combustion engines. As pollutants, nitrogen compounds can have adverse health effects
(see nitrate and air pollution) and contribute to degradation of waters (see
NLEA — Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1991
NMA — National Meat Association
NMFS — National Marine Fisheries Service
NMPF — National Milk Producers Federation
No net cost — A provision requiring that a price support program be operated at no cost
to the federal government. The No-Net-Cost Tobacco Act of 1982 required the
participants in the 1982 and subsequent year tobacco programs to pay an assessment to cover
potential losses in operating the tobacco price support program. The Food Security
Act of 1985 required that USDA operate the sugar program at no cost. This provision
applied through the 1996 crop year for the sugar crops, and was repealed by the FAIR Act
of 1996. The 1996 changes to the peanut program are designed to ensure that it also operates
at no cost.
No Net Cost Tobacco Act of 1982 — P.L. 97-218 (July 20, 1982) required that the
tobacco price support program operate at no net cost to taxpayers, other than for the
administrative expenses common to all price support programs. To satisfy this mandate, sellers
and buyers (including importers) of tobacco are assessed equally to build a capital account that
is drawn upon to reimburse the Commodity Credit Corporation for any losses of
principal and interest resulting from nonrecourse loans. Other provisions of this law
provided for reducing the level of support for tobacco and made various modifications to the
marketing quota and acreage allotment programs.
No net loss wetlands policy — An overall policy goal for wetland protection first adopted
by the Bush Administration, and more recently by the Clinton Administration. The goal is to
halt the decline in the overall number of wetland acres in the country. It refers only to acres
and does not compare the functions and values of wetlands gained and lost. Also, this goal
does not address the question of whether it is acceptable to destroy some wetlands if at least
the same number of acres are created or restored at another site. Currently there are about 100
million wetland acres, compared to about 200 million when the country was first settled.
No observable adverse effect level (NOAEL) — From long-term toxicological studies
of agricultural chemical active ingredients, levels which indicate a safe, lifetime exposure level.
Used in setting pesticide residue tolerances.
No-till farming — A method of planting crops that involves no seed bed preparation other
than opening the soil to place individual seeds in holes or small slits; usually no cultivation
during crop production; chemical weed control is normally used. May also be referred to as
slot tillage or zero cultivation. See also, for comparison, conservation tillage and
NOAA — National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAEL — No observable adverse effect level
Nonbasic commodities — Commodities other than basic commodities for which USDA is
authorized to provide price support in permanent law. This includes soybeans and other
oilseeds, milk, sugar beets, and sugarcane.
Noncompetitive imports — A term used by the Economic Research Service in its reporting
of agricultural trade statistics to refer to imports of commodities not produced in the United
States. Commodities such as tea, bananas, or coffee are considered noncompetitive imports.
In contrast, imported commodities that are also produced in the United States are referred to
as competitive imports.
Noninsured Assistance Program (NAP) — Producers who grow a crop that is currently
not eligible for crop insurance may be eligible for a direct payment under the Farm Service
Agency’s noninsured assistance program (NAP). NAP has permanent authority under the
Federal Crop Insurance Reform Act of 1994 and was designed to replace ad-hoc farm
disaster legislation that was enacted nearly every year between 1988 and 1993. For a producer
of an noninsured crop to become eligible for a payment, areawide losses for that crop must be
at least 35% of normal yields. Once the 35% areawide threshold is reached, an individual
producer must then experience a minimum crop loss of 50%. A noninsured producer then
receives a payment comparable to an insured producer under catastrophic crop insurance
coverage — 60% of the market price on losses in excess of 50%. A producer of an noninsured
crop is subject to a payment limit of $100,000 per person and is ineligible for a payment
if the producer’s qualifying gross revenues exceed $2 million.
Nonmoney income — A statistical allowance used in farm income compilations to credit
farmers with income for the value of farm products used on the farm (instead of being sold for
cash) and the rental value of farm dwellings. It assumes farmers otherwise live rent-free on
their farm business premises.
Nonpoint source pollution — Pollutants that are not discharged or emitted from a specific
“point” source, such as a pipe or smokestack. Nonpoint water pollutants are often carried from
dispersed, diverse sources into water channels by rain-induced runoff. Runoff from streets,
open pit and strip mines, and agricultural fields are prominent examples (see agricultural
pollution). Nonpoint source air pollutants (often called fugitive emissions) include small
dispersed sources, e.g., fireplace smoke, and uncontained emissions like dust blown from fields
and unpaved roads.
Nonprogram crops — Any agricultural commodity not covered by federal commodity
programs. Program crops are wheat, corn, barley, grain sorghum, oats, upland cotton, and
Nonrecourse loans — Farmers or processors participating in government commodity
programs may pledge certain stored commodities as collateral and obtain a loan from the
CCC at a commodity-specific, per-unit loan rate. The borrower may repay the loan, with
interest, within a specified period and regain control of the commodity. Alternatively, the
commodity can be forfeited to the CCC at the end of the term with no penalty. The government
takes no recourse beyond accepting the commodity as full settlement of the loan. The loans
provide operating capital to producers of wheat, feed grains, cotton, peanuts, tobacco, rice, and
oilseeds. Dairy processors (until 2000) and sugar processors (when imports are equal to or
greater than 1.5 million short tons) are also eligible for nonrecourse loans. In the past, loan
rates sometimes exceeded market prices. The CCC then became an alternative purchaser to
the market, thereby supporting prices. For those commodities eligible for marketing
assistance loan benefits, producers may repay the loan at the world price (rice and upland
cotton) or posted county price (wheat, feed grains, and oilseeds).
Nonrenewable resources — Resources that do not naturally replenish themselves within
the limits of human time, such as minerals, in contrast to renewable resources such as soil
and water. An example of nonrenewable resource, also called a stock resource, important to
agriculture is petroleum.
Non-road emissions — Pollutants emitted by non-road engines and non-road vehicles, e.g.,
farm and construction equipment, gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment, and power
boats and outboard motors. The Clean Air Act, §213, provides that EPA can issue
regulations to limit emissions from these sources.
Nontariff barriers (NTB’s) — Any restriction, charge, or policy other than a tariff, that
limits access of imported goods. Examples of nontariff barriers include quantitative
restrictions, mainly import quotas and embargoes; import licenses; exchange controls;
state trading enterprises; bilateral agreements; and certain rules and regulations on
health, safety, and sanitation. The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture requires
conversion of NTBs to bound tariffs and that sanitary and phytosanitary measures
be based on sound science.
Normal crop acreage — The acreage on a farm normally devoted to a group of designated
crops. When a set-aside program is in effect, a participating farm’s total planted acreage
of such designated crops plus set-aside acreage cannot exceed the normal crop acreage. The
authority for set-asides was eliminated by the FAIR Act of 1996.
Normal flex acreage — A provision of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990
requiring a mandatory 15% reduction in payment acreage. Under this provision, producers
were ineligible to receive deficiency payments on 15% of their crop acreage base (not
including any acreage removed from production under any production adjustment
program). Producers, however, were allowed to plant any crop on this acreage, except fruits,
vegetables, and other prohibited crops. Normal flex acreage no longer exists under the FAIR
Act of 1996.
Normal yield — The average historic yield established for a particular farm or area. Can
also describe average yields. Normal production would be the normal crop acreage planted
multiplied by the normal yield. These measures, required by previous commodity
programs, are not required for production flexibility contracts under the FAIR Act of
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — A multilateral trade
agreement negotiated by the United States, Canada and Mexico that sets forth agreements
to lower and/or eliminate unfair trade barriers that affect the trade of goods and services
between the three countries. NAFTA entered into force on January 1, 1994. The agriculture
portion of NAFTA effectively is three bilateral agreements; U.S./Mexico, Mexico/Canada, and
U.S./Canada. The U.S.-Canada agricultural agreement in NAFTA was negotiated previously
as part of the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement.
North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act — P.L. 103-182
(December 8, 1993) approved and implemented the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA). NAFTA pertains to cross-border trade between the United States, Mexico, and
Canada. NAFTA substantially eliminated all nontariff barriers to agricultural trade between
the United States and Mexico, generally through their conversion to tariff rate quotas or
ordinary tariffs, and maintained the provisions of the United States-Canada Free Trade
Agreement on agricultural trade. The law eliminated tariffs on a broad range of agricultural
products and provided for a phase-out over up to 15 years for tariffs on other products. A
special safeguard provision will apply to certain products, with a designated quantity of
imports allowed at a NAFTA preferential tariff rate. NAFTA increases incentives for buying
within the NAFTA region.
North American Waterfowl Management Plan — An international program in
cooperation with Mexico and Canada to protect, restore, enhance, and manage wetland
ecosystems for migratory birds and other wildlife and fish. It was authorized by the North
American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989. This program is administered by the
Fish and Wildlife Service, and USDA agencies participate as appropriate.
North American Wetlands Conservation Act — P.L. 101-233 (December 13, 1989),
and amended in 1990 and 1994, authorizes a wetlands habitat program; administered by the
Fish and Wildlife Service. The law authorizes annual appropriations of up to $20 million
to fund a grant program to protect and manage wetland habitats for migratory birds and other
wetland wildlife in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. A nine-member council meets
periodically to decide which projects to fund. The program encourages private-public costsharing projects. It must allocate between 50% and 70% of all funds to projects in Mexico and
Canada, and no more than 50% of the U.S. share for projects in these countries can come from
federal funds. Agricultural wetlands are not specifically identified in the law, and agricultural
interests are not expressly represented on the council.
Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact — An agreement among the six New England
States to support the farm price of milk used for fluid consumption at a higher level than under
current federally mandated minimum prices in the region. Current law allows membership in
the compact to expand to New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and
Virginia, if the prospective state is contiguous to a member state, and if the compact is
approved by the state legislature of the prospective state and the U.S. Congress. Under law,
the compact must terminate when reforms to federal milk marketing orders are
implemented by USDA, which has a statutory deadline of April 1999.
Northern Europe (NE) cotton price — An average of the lowest prices of several cottons
(including cost, insurance, and freight)in Northern Europe. The NE price is used by USDA
in its formula for calculating the adjusted world price under the cotton support program.
NOSB — National Organic Standards Board
Noxious weeds — Undesirable plants that infest either land or water resources and cause
physical and economic damage. Under the Federal Noxious Weeds Act of 1974, (P.L.
93-629, January 3, 1975) The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service works to
prevent noxious weeds from entering the country, and conducts cooperative control/eradication
programs with the states. Local governments frequently impose taxes on landowners to carry
out noxious weed control programs.
NPE — Nutrition Program for the Elderly
NPHAP — National Pesticide Hazard Assessment Program
NPHAP — National Pesticide Hazard Assessment Program
NPPC — National Pork Producers Council
NPR — National Performance Review
NPS — Non-point source
NRA — National Renderers Association; National Restaurant Association; National Rifle
NRC — National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences)
NRCS — Natural Resources Conservation Service
NRDC — National Rural Development Councils; Natural Resources Defense Council
NRECA — National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
NRI — National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program; National Resources
NSLA — National School Lunch Act
NSLP — National School Lunch Program
NSSC — National Soil Survey Center
NSSP — National Shellfish Sanitation Program
NTB — Nontariff barriers
NTF — National Turkey Federation
NTP — National Toxicology Program
Nutrient pollution — Contamination by excessive inputs of nutrient: a primary cause of
eutrophication of surface waters, in which excess nutrients, usually nitrogen or
phosphorus, stimulate algal growth. Sources of nutrient pollution include runoff from fields
and pastures, discharges from septic tanks and feedlots, and emissions from combustion.
Nutrition Assistance Programs — Federal programs in Puerto Rico and American Samoa
that provide food assistance through block grant funds in lieu of food stamps.
Nutrition Education and Training (NET) Program — Authorizes grants to states for
a nutrition education program targeting school children, teachers, parents, and food service
workers. The program is authorized under the Child Nutrition Act through FY2002 at an
annual funding level of $10 million.
Nutrition guidelines — Guidelines established for meals served in child nutrition meal
service programs governing the types of foods and nutrient content required in order to be
eligible for reimbursement.
NWF — National Wildlife Federation
NWR — National Wildlife Refuge
NWRS — National Wildlife Refuge System
NWS — National Weather Service
OBPA — Office of Budget and Program Analysis
Ocean freight differential (under P.L. 480) — The difference between the cost of P.L.
480 shipments that are required to be carried on U.S. flag vessels compared to the cost that
would have been incurred had they been carried on lower cost foreign bottoms. The U.S.
government pays this difference either by paying the total freight, if the sale is made under Title
II of P.L. 480, or by reimbursing the recipient country or private grain company (whichever
pays the shipping) if the sale is made under Title I of P.L. 480.
Ocean ranching — A type of aquaculture, used mainly by the salmon industry, which
cultures juvenile fish, releases them to mature in the open ocean, and catches them when they
return as adults to spawn.
OECD — Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Offal — The less valuable byproduct material from the preparation of a specific product;
primarily refers to the byproducts of meat and poultry plants, e.g., blood, bone, feathers, fat.
Offer versus serve — Refers to the option children may have to refuse one or more items
offered as part of a federally subsidized school lunch or breakfast without losing eligibility for
Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) — The Office of the Chief Economist advises the
Secretary of Agriculture on the economic implications of policies and programs affecting the
U.S. food and fiber system and rural areas. The Chief Economist coordinates, reviews, and
approves the USDA's commodity and farm sector forecasts. In addition, the Chief Economist
oversees the activities of the Coordinator of Agricultural Labor Affairs, the Director of
Sustainable Development, the World Agricultural Outlook Board and the Office of Risk
Assessment & Cost-Benefit Analysis. http://www.usda.gov/oce/
Office Of Risk Management — See Risk Management Agency.
Off-farm (non-farm) income — That portion of farm household income obtained off the
farm, including nonfarm wages and salaries, pensions, and interest income earned by farm
families. On average for all farms in the United States, off-farm income accounts for about
90% of farm operator household income.
Offset — Liquidating a purchase of futures contracts through the sale of an equal number
of contracts of the same delivery month, or liquidating a short sale of futures through the
purchase of an equal number of contracts of the same delivery month. In other words, selling
if one has bought, or buying if one has sold, a futures or option contract.
Offsetting compliance — A requirement that a farmer owning multiple farms who wishes
to participate in a crop program must comply with the program’s provisions on all farms under
the farmer’s ownership in order to be eligible for program benefits. This provision does not
apply to production flexibility contracts enacted under the FAIR Act of 1996.
OGC — Office of General Counsel
OIG — Office of Inspector General
Oilseed crops — Primarily soybeans, sunflower seed, canola, rapeseed, safflower, flaxseed,
mustard seed, peanuts and cottonseed, used for the production of cooking oils, protein meals
for livestock, and industrial uses. These specific oilseeds are eligible for nonrecourse loans.
Other oilseed crops include castor beans and sesame.
OL — Operating loans, farm
Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 — P.L. 100-418 (August 23, 1988)
provided the President with negotiating authority for the General Agreement on Tariffs and
Trade (GATT) Uruguay Round, U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, and the North
American Free Trade Agreement, and specified U.S. negotiating objectives regarding
agriculture. The law revised statutory procedures for dealing with unfair trade practices and
import damage to U.S. industries. It gave USDA discretionary authority to trigger marketing
loans for wheat, feed grains, and soybeans, if it is determined that unfair trade practices exist.
Open position — Ownership of a fixed-price forward contract, especially a futures
Option contract — An option contract gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to
buy (call option) or sell (put option) a futures contract at a specific price within a
specified period of time, regardless of the market price of that commodity.
Option premium, futures — The amount an option buyer pays the option writer for an
option contract (JYJ)
Option writer, futures — A person who sells a option contract, receives the premium,
and bears the obligation to buy or sell the asset at the strike price.
Optional flex acreage — Under the planting flexibility provision of the Agricultural Act
of 1949, as amended by the FACT Act of 1990, producers could choose to plant up to 25%
of the crop acreage base to other CCC-specified crops (except fruits and vegetables) without
a reduction in crop acreage bases on the farm, but receive no deficiency payments on this
acreage. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 further amended the 1949 Act to
make a 15% reduction in payment acreage mandatory. The remaining 10% was optional
flex acreage. Optional flex acreage was eligible for deficiency payments when planted to the
program crop. Optional flex acres no longer exist under the FAIR Act of 1996.
Options contracts, futures — A contract traded on a commodity futures exchange that
gives the buyer the right without obligation to buy or sell a futures contract over a specified
time period. The FAIR Act of 1996 requires USDA to conduct research through pilot
programs to determine if futures and options contracts can provide producers with reasonable
protection from the financial risks of fluctuations in price, yield, and income inherent in the
production and marketing of agricultural commodities.
ORACBA — Office of Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis, USDA
Oral toxicity — Ability of a chemical to cause injury when ingested by mouth.
Orderly marketing — Coordination of the total supply of a commodity in order to achieve
sellers’ joint market objectives. This is an activity carried out by some marketing order
Organic — Chemically, a compound or molecule containing carbon bound to hydrogen.
Organic compounds make up all living matter. The term organic frequently is used to
distinguish “natural” products or processes from man-made “synthetic” ones. Thus natural
fertilizers include manures or rock phosphate, as opposed to fertilizers synthesized from
chemical feedstocks. Likewise, organic farming and organic foods refer to the growing of
food crops without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides or fertilizers; pests are controlled
by cultivation techniques and the use of pesticides derived from natural sources (e.g., rotenone
and pyrethrins, both from plants) and the use of natural fertilizers (e.g., manure and compost).
Some consumers, alleging risks from synthetic chemicals, prefer organic food products. The
FACT Act of 1990 required USDA to define organic foods for marketing purposes.
Organic certification — The FACT Act of 1990 authorizes producers of organically
grown crops and livestock to label their products as “USDA Certified Organic” if their
operations meet established federal standards for organic production, as determined by
accredited certifying agents. Delays in implementation have pushed the anticipated
implementation date to late 1997 or early 1998.
Organic farming — Crop production systems that generally exclude the use of synthetic
fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. To the maximum extent feasible, organic farming
systems rely on crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures,
off-farm organic wastes, mechanical cultivation, and biological pest control to maintain soil
productivity, to supply nutrients to plants, and to control weeds and pests.
Organic foods — Food products produced by organic farming practices and handled or
processed under organic handling and manufacturing processes as defined by several private
and state organic certifying agencies. Once a USDA organic certification and labeling program
is operational, there will be a single national standard for what constitutes organic foods.
Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) — An
international organization established by the United States and Canada and certain Western
European countries in 1960. The OECD studies and discusses trade and related matters.
Members include the United States, Canada, European Union countries, Australia, New
Zealand, Japan, and Turkey. Most recently Mexico and South Korea have become OECD
Organoleptic — Relating to the senses (taste, color, odor, feel). Traditional USDA meat and
poultry inspection techniques are considered organoleptic because inspectors perform a variety
of such procedures—involving visually examining, feeling, and smelling animal parts—to
detect signs of disease or contamination. These inspection techniques are not adequate to detect
foodborne pathogens that are of growing concern.
Organophosphates — Insecticides that contain phosphorus, carbon, and hydrogen. They
are cholinesterase inhibitors; some are highly acutely toxic, but they usually are not
persistent in the environment. Parathion is an example of an organophosphate.
OSHA — Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Ozone (O3) — A highly reactive molecule composed of three oxygen atoms.
Environmentally, ozone is important in two completely separate contexts—one, as a naturally
occurring screen of harmful radiation in the outer atmosphere (i.e., stratospheric ozone), and
two, as a component of polluting smog formed from emissions resulting from human activities
(i.e., urban smog). In the stratosphere 7 to 10 miles above the Earth, naturally occurring ozone
acts to shield the Earth from harmful radiation. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was discovered that
emissions of certain chemicals catalyze destruction of stratospheric ozone, allowing more
radiation to reach the Earth’s surface. The U.S. is a signatory to the 1987 Montreal
Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances, which bans or limits uses of chemicals whose
emissions deplete stratospheric ozone. Among the chemicals being phased out as ozone
depleters are chlorofluorocarbons used in refrigeration and air conditioning and methyl
bromide, a pesticide. In the lower atmosphere (troposphere), ozone is a major air pollutant
that contributes to smog, adversely affects human health, and is toxic to some plants, damaging
forests and crops. Tropospheric ozone forms from reactions between nitrogen oxides and
volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight. The precursor pollutants are emitted
by combustion sources such as motor vehicles and utilities, use of solvents, and petrochemical
facilities. Tropospheric ozone is regulated under a National Ambient Air Quality
P.L. 480 (or Public Law 480) — P.L. 83-480 (July 10, 1954), also called Food for
Peace, is the common name for food aid programs established by the Agricultural Trade
Development and Assistance Act of 1954, which seeks to expand foreign markets for
U.S. agricultural products, combat hunger, and encourage economic development in developing
countries. Title I makes export credit available on concessional terms, for example, at low
interest rates for up to 30 years. Donations for emergency food relief and nonemergency
humanitarian assistance are provided under Title II. Title III authorizes a Food for
Development program that provides government-to-government grant food assistance to least
developed countries. The FAIR Act of 1996 extends the authority to enter into new P.L. 480
agreements through 2002.
P.L. 566 — Public Law 83-566 (August 4, 1954), Watershed Protection and Flood
Prevention Act of 1954
PACA — Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act
Packer concentration — The degree to which a few large firms dominate total sales within
segments of the meat packing industry, which, some farmers and other critics contend, can
cause or at least contribute to lower prices for their animals. Market control by five large
packers in the early 1900s led to passage of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.
Concentration declined after that, but has increased sharply in more recent years. For
example, the four largest firms accounted for 82% of the steer and heifer slaughter in 1994,
compared with 36% in 1980. Four-firm concentration in hog slaughter increased to 46% in
1994 compared with 34% in 1980, according to USDA. Numerous government-sponsored
studies and investigations have been inconclusive on the relationship in recent years between
concentration and prices.
Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 — P.L. 67-51 (August 15, 1921) remains, in
amended form, the basic authority for USDA to regulate marketing practices in the livestock,
poultry, and meat industries. The law was enacted to prevent unfair, deceptive, and
monopolistic trade practices, focusing on livestock terminal and auction markets, livestock
marketing agencies, dealers, meat packers, and live poultry dealers. The law also includes
provisions to ensure that livestock and poultry producers are promptly paid when they sell their
Paid diversion — A program, repealed by the FAIR Act of 1996, under which farmers
were paid to voluntarily take acreage out of production. The diverted land was devoted to
approved conservation practices. Unlike acreage reduction and set-aside programs,
participation in a paid diversion program was not normally a condition of eligibility for other
support program benefits.
Paid lunch (or breakfast, supper, or snack) — Refers to a federally reimbursed meal
(or snack) bought by a child who does not qualify for a free or reduced price meal. Also often
referred to as a “full-price” lunch, or a Section 4 lunch.
Parity price — A measurement of the purchasing power of a unit of a particular commodity.
Originally, parity was the price per bushel, bale, pound, or hundredweight that would be
necessary for a unit of a commodity today to buy the same quantity of other goods (from a
standard list) that the commodity could have purchased in the 1910-14 base period. Under
permanent law, prices of some commodities would be supported at 50 to 90% of parity
through direct government purchases or nonrecourse loans. In 1948, the parity price
formula was revised to make parity prices dependent on the relationship of farm and nonfarm
prices during the most recent 10-year period for nonbasic commodities. Basic
commodities, including wheat, corn, rice, peanuts, and cotton use the higher of the historical
or the new formula.
Parity ratio — An aggregate measure of the relative purchasing power of farm products; the
ratio between the index of prices received by farmers for all farm products and the index of
prices paid by farmers for commodities and services used in farm production and family living.
The parity ratio measures relative price relationships (prices received versus prices paid). Over
time the parity ratio has declined due to greater efficiency gains in agriculture. Compared to
a parity ratio of 100 in the 1910-14 time period, the 1995 annual parity ratio was 45.
Particulate matter — A category of air pollutants that refers to small, solid particles or
liquid droplets suspended in the air, including soot, fumes, dust, pollen and spores, smoke, and
spray. Particles vary in biological effect depending on their size and composition. Two
National Ambient Air Quality Standards have been set for particulates: One, in effect
since 1987, regulates particles smaller than 10 microns in diameter (PM10), a size range that
includes fugitive dust from construction and tilling the soil. A 1997 change in how compliance
with the PM10 standard is measured somewhat reduces the stringency of the standard, which
will make it easer for areas not in compliance (41 in early 1997) to attain the standard. The
second PM standard, promulgated in July 1997, regulates particles smaller than 2.5 microns
(PM 2.5), a size range dominated by combustion products, but which can include very fine
fugitive dust and ammonia that can come from agricultural sources. Because of the need to
develop monitoring and to assess ambient levels of PM2.5, it will be the mid-2000s before
pollution levels are established and any control programs might be instituted.
Partners for Wildlife — A voluntary partnership program administered by the Fish and
Wildlife Service to provide financial and technical assistance to private landowners who wish
to protect or restore wetlands. This program has been widely used by rural landowners,
Pastureland — Land used primarily for the production of domesticated forage plants for
livestock (in contrast to rangeland, where vegetation is naturally-occurring and is dominated
by grasses and perhaps shrubs). Rotation pasture or cropland under winter cover crops is not
included in this definition. The 1992 national resources inventory recorded 126 million
acres of pastureland, 9% of all nonfederal rural lands.
Pathogen; pathogenic — Pathogens are infectious or toxin forming microorganisms
causing disease. A foodborne pathogen is a microorganism that causes illness through the
ingestion of food.
Payment-in-kind (PIK) — In general, a payment made in the form of CCC-owned
commodities (or title to them) in lieu of cash. This form of payment was widely used during
the 1980s for paid diversion, deficiency payments, and export subsidy payments as
a means of disposing of or avoiding the acquisition of commodity inventories. PIK
certificates entitled the holder to specific quantity of commodities.
Payment limitation — The maximum amount of commodity program benefits a person
can receive by law. Persons are defined under payment limitation regulations, established by
USDA, to be individuals, members of joint operations, or entities such as limited partnerships,
corporations, associations, trusts, and estates that are actively engaged in farming. The three
entity rule limits the number of farms from which a person can receive program payments.
The FAIR Act of 1996 sets payment limits at $40,000 per person per fiscal year on
production flexibility contracts (down from $50,000 on target price deficiency
payments). The limits of $75,000/person/year with respect to marketing assistance loan
gains and loan deficiency payments for crops of contract commodities or oilseeds is
Payment quantity — The quantity of production eligible for production flexibility
contract payments under the FAIR Act of 1996. Payment quantity is calculated as the
farm’s program yield (per acre) multiplied by 85% of the farm’s contract acreage (but
subject to payment limitations).
Payment rate — Generally, the amount paid per unit of production (i.e., bushel, pound,
hundredweight) to each participating farmer for eligible production under commodity income
and price support programs.
Payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) — A program administered by the Bureau of Land
Management of the Department of Interior to compensate counties for the tax-exempt status
of federal lands; the fixed payments per entitlement acre (on most but not all federal lands) are
adjusted for low county populations and for other revenue-sharing payments (e.g., Forest
Service county payments) in a complicated formula.
PBIS — Performance Based Inspection System
PC — Prior converted wetlands
PCA — Production Credit Association
PCC — Prior converted cropland
PDP — Pesticide data program
Peace clause — Term used to refer to Article 13 of the Uruguay Round Agreement on
Agriculture which exempts certain policies from challenges in the World Trade Organization
so long as countries are meeting their commitments under the agreement.
Peanut poundage quota — A peanut price support program supply control
mechanism authorized by the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 to regulate the
marketing of peanuts consumed domestically for food when production becomes excessive.
The FAIR Act of 1996 requires that (for the 1996-2002 crops) the poundage quota be set
equal to projected food demand and related uses (but not including seed use). A related
provision allocates a separate temporary (annual) quota to all peanut producers, based on the
amount of seed peanuts planted on each farm. The national quota is allocated among states
based on a historical share, and then divided among farms based on production history.
Owners (via inheritance or purchase) of farm quota may sell peanuts produced against their
quota, or sell, lease and transfer their quota to other producers. The FAIR Act of 1996
permits the sale, lease, and transfer of a farm quota across county lines up to specified limited
percentages of a county’s total of all farm quotas. Quota owners in certain counties, depending
on the size of the state or county quota, have unlimited rights to transfer their farm quota within
the state. Government entities and out-of-state quota owners cannot hold quotas after the 1997
crop. Peanuts marketed outside the quota limits must be crushed for nonedible uses or
exported and are called additional peanuts.
Peanut price support program — The federal program that supports the farm price of
peanuts by offering price support loans to peanut growers and by placing limits on the
amount of peanuts allowed to be sold for domestic food use. Farmers may sell peanuts
produced in excess of marketing limits (referred to as the peanut poundage quota — one
example of a marketing quota), primarily for export and crushing into peanut oil and meal.
Two nonrecourse loan levels are available to producers, depending on the end use and
destination of the peanuts sold. Peanuts marketed for food use in the United States (quota
peanuts) are eligible for a higher loan reflecting the historical price premium associated with
selling into the high-value domestic market. The FAIR Act of 1996 freezes the quota loan
rate for the 1996-2002 crops at $610 per ton. All other peanuts (called additional peanuts)
are eligible for a lower level of support ($132/ton for the 1997 crop) to ensure that the
Commodity Credit Corporation does not incur any losses on its peanut loan operations. The
1996 Act also requires that the national peanut poundage quota be set at an amount equal
to projected “domestic edible” (food) and related uses (excluding seed). For the 1997 crop, the
national quota is set at 1.133 million short tons. Other provisions make the peanut support
program a no cost program.
Percolation — The movement of water downward and radially through subsurface soil
layers, usually continuing downward to groundwater. The rate at which soils permit
percolation is a measure of the vulnerability of groundwaters to contamination by surface
waters as well as a determinant in the siting of septic fields.
Performance Based Inspection System (PBIS) — A computer-based system used by
USDA’s meat and poultry inspection agency, the Food Safety Inspection Service. The system
organizes inspection requirements, schedules inspection activities, and maintains records of
findings for meat and poultry processing operations under federal inspection. PBIS has been
at issue because consumer advocates and some inspectors have contended that it is not flexible
and “second-guesses” inspectors’ more reliable experience and judgement. USDA views it as
a much more objective tool for inspection that enhances rather than undermines inspectors’
Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) of 1930 — P.L. 71-325 (June 10,
1930), as amended, regulates the buying and selling of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables
to prevent unfair trading practices and to assure that sellers will be paid promptly. Both
produce sellers and buyers must pay fees for a license in order to do business, and these license
fees are the source of funding for a trust program that resolves disputes and protects sellers
from non-payment when buyers become bankrupt. Amendments to the Act in 1995 (P.L. 10448) include a 3-year phaseout of the annual license fees for retailers and grocery wholesalerdealers to be replaced by one-time fee.
Perishable commodities — Farm goods that prior to processing cannot be stored for a
substantial period of time without excessive loss through deterioration or spoilage. Examples
of perishable commodities are fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry. Most
of the commodities purchased by the Agricultural Marketing Service under Section 32
authority are perishable items.
Permanent law — Legislation that would be in force in the absence of all temporary or
short-term laws (e.g., farm bills). The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, the
Agricultural Act of 1949, and the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act of
1948 serve as the basic laws authorizing the major commodity programs. Technically,
each new farm bill (including the FAIR Act of 1996) amends the permanent law for a
specified period. The FAIR Act of 1996 also repeals some provisions of permanent law and
suspends other provisions through 2002. Many programs and activities of USDA are
authorized by permanent laws that are periodically amended.
Permanent vegetative cover — Trees, or perennial grasses, legumes, or shrubs with an
expected life span of at least 5 years. Permanent cover is required on cropland entered into the
Conservation Reserve Program.
Permitted acreage — The acreage on which a farm program participant is permitted to
grow a program crop after satisfying acreage reduction requirements. For example,
when a 10% acreage reduction program is in effect for wheat, a farmer with a 100-acre
wheat base may grow wheat on 90 acres, the permitted acres. Limits on production are
eliminated by the FAIR Act of 1996 through the year 2002.
Persistent pesticides — Pesticides that do not readily break down in the environment.
Becoming long-lived components of the ecosystem, these chemicals may have enduring effects
at low concentrations or may bioaccumulate, posing hazards to higher predators.
Person — An entity defined by USDA as being eligible to receive federal farm program
benefits, subject to payment limitation constraints.
Personal Responsibility & Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 — P.L.
104-193 (September 22, 1996) was labeled as a major “welfare reform” initiative. In addition
to provisions making major changes to federal cash welfare, medicaid, work, and child care
development programs, this law revised the food stamp program and several commodity
distribution programs (notably the emergency food assistance program and the soup
kitchen food bank program).
Pest — An animal or plant that is directly or indirectly detrimental to human interests, causing
harm or reducing the quality and value of a harvestable crop or other resource. Weeds,
termites, rats, and mildew are examples of pests.
Pest resistance management plans (PRM) — To protect the continued use of
biopesticides, EPA is requiring companies developing transgenic crops to submit and
implement pest resistance management (PRM) plans as a requirement of product registration.
If they are exposed to a toxin excessively, most insect populations can develop resistance,
making pest control products less effective. With new biopesticide technologies comes the
concern that pests will rapidly develop resistance to natural insecticides. A resistance
management plan is intended to sustain the useful life of transgenic technology.
Pest scouting — Inspecting a field for pests, including insects, weeds, and pathogens. Pest
scouting is a basic component of integrated pest management programs. It is used to
determine whether pest populations are at levels that warrant control intervention and also may
help to determine the most appropriate method of control.
Pesticide — A substance used to kill, control, repel, or mitigate any pest. Insecticides,
fungicides, rodenticides, herbicides, and germicides are all pesticides. EPA regulates
pesticides under authority of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
(FIFRA). In addition, under FIFRA, a substance used as a plant regulator, defoliant, or
desiccant is defined as a pesticide and regulated accordingly. All pesticides must be registered
and carry a label approved by EPA.
Pesticide Data Program (PDP) — A program established by USDA’s Agricultural
Marketing Service to provide pesticide residue data on food commodities, primarily fruits
and vegetables. Congress transferred funding for the $10 million program to EPA for FY1997.
Pesticide Recordkeeping Program (PRP) — Authorized by the FACT Act of 1990,
the program requires that private pesticide applicators keep records of the pesticides they use
in agricultural production and that the records be surveyed to provide a database on restricteduse pesticides.
PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
PFC — Production flexibility contract
pH — An expression of the intensity of the basic or acidic condition of a liquid or of soil; may
range from 0 to 14, where 0 is the most acid, 7 is neutral, and above 7 is alkaline on a
logarithmic scale. Natural waters usually have a pH between 6.5 and 8.5.
Phosphorus — An essential nutrient for plants and animals that is commonly applied to crops
as a phosphate fertilizer. Phosphorus can contribute to the eutrophication of lakes and other
water bodies. Sources of excess phosphorus include sewage and agricultural runoff.
Phytosanitary — See sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS).
PIK — Payment-in-kind
PILT — Payments in lieu of taxes
PIN — Pesticide information network
Plant-pesticide — As proposed by EPA (November 23, 1994), plant-pesticides are all
substances responsible for pest resistance in plants, as well as the genes needed for production
of these substances. EPA has further proposed that plant-pesticide traits introduced into plants
using recombinant DNA techniques should be registered under legal requirements of FIFRA
and FFDCA. Exempt from tolerance requirements would be those defense substances and
genes evolved naturally or transferred to the plant by traditional plant breeding methods.
Plant regulator — A chemical that affects the physiological behavior of plants, for example
through accelerating or retarding the rate of growth or maturation of produce. Typically the
definition of plant regulator excludes nutrients. Plant regulators must be registered as
pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970 — P.L. 91-577 (December 24, 1970) was enacted
to provide patent-like protection for new non-hybrid seed varieties. The ultimate goal was to
create an incentive for public and private research on new commercial plant varieties by
making it possible for scientists to benefit financially from developing them. The Plant Variety
Protection Act Amendments of 1994 ( P.L. 103-349, October 6, 1994) made the law consistent
with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of March 19,
1991, to which the United States is a signatory. The law now ensures that new varieties are
protected as intellectual property, as defined under the International Convention for the
Protection of New Varieties of Plants. USDA rather than the Patent and Trademark Office,
administers the law.
PLD — Paid land diversion
PMA — Produce Marketing Association; Power Marketing Administration
PMO — Pasturized Milk Ordinance
Point — A measure of price change equal to 1/100 of one cent in most futures contracts
traded in decimal units. In grains, it is one cent; in T-bonds, it is one percent of par.
Point source pollution — Pollutants that are discharged or emitted from discrete “point”
sources, such as pipes and smokestacks. Both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act
focus control requirements on point sources and both require permits for major sources of
discharges from point sources. While much agricultural pollution is nonpoint source, some
agricultural activities are affected: for example, feedlots of over 1000 animal units are
considered point sources requiring permits under the Clean Water Act. However, irrigation
return flows, although considered point sources, are expressly exempted from the permit
Pollution — Alteration of the environment, as through the introduction of hazardous or
detrimental substances, heat, or noise whose nature, location, or quantity produces adverse
health or environmental effects. Under Section 502 of the Clean Water Act, for example,
pollution means the man-made or man-induced alteration of the physical, biological, chemical,
and radiological integrity of water.
Pork bellies — One of the major cuts of the hog carcass that, when cured, becomes bacon.
Futures contracts for pork bellies are traded in the futures market.
Posted county price (PCP) — This price is calculated for wheat and feed grains for each
county by the Farm Service Agency. The PCP reflects changes in prices in major terminal
grain markets (of which there are 18 in the country), corrected for the cost of transporting grain
from the county to the terminal. It is utilized under the marketing loan repayment provisions
and loan deficiency payment provisions of the wheat and feed grains commodity
Postharvest — Refers to activities in the food and fiber sector that occur after agricultural
products are sold from, or leave, the farm or ranch. In total, about 75% of the retail cost of
the market basket of foods is added in postharvest activities.
Postmortem inspection — As used in the meat and poultry inspection program, the phrase
refers to the inspection that Food Safety Inspection Service inspectors are required to
conduct of all animal carcasses immediately after they are killed.
Poultry Products Inspection Act of 1957 — P.L. 85-172 (August 28, 1957), as amended
by the Wholesome Poultry Products Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-492, August 18, 1968), requires
USDA to inspect all “domesticated birds” when slaughtered and processed into products for
human consumption. The USDA has defined, by regulation, domesticated birds as chickens,
turkeys, ducks, geese, and guineas. The primary goals of the law are to prevent adulterated or
misbranded poultry and products from being sold as food, and to ensure that poultry and
poultry products are slaughtered and processed under sanitary conditions. These requirements
also apply to products produced and sold within states as well as to imports, which must be
inspected under equivalent foreign standards.
Poundage quota — A quantitative limit on the amount of a commodity that can be marketed
(also called a marketing quota) under the provisions of a permanent law. Once a
common feature of price support programs, this supply control mechanism now only restricts
the production and/or sale of tobacco and peanuts.
Poverty guidelines — These are monthly or annual income amounts that are used to help
determine eligibility for a number of federal food assistance and other programs. They are
derived from the income poverty thresholds used by the Census Bureau in counting the number
of poor persons, differ by household size, are adjusted upward for Alaska and Hawaii, are
published by the Department of Health and Human Services early each spring, and are updated
annually for overall inflation. For example, 130% of the income poverty guidelines is the limit
for food stamp and free school lunch income eligibility.
PPB — Parts per billion
PPI — Producer Price Index; Prices Paid Index
PPIA — Poultry Products Inspection Act
PPM — Parts per million
PPT — Parts per trillion
PRA — Paperwork Reduction Act
Prairie potholes — A type of wetland characteristic of glaciated areas in the Upper Midwest
(North Dakota especially) that is at the center of a shallow depression. Many potholes are wet
during only a portion of the year, usually early spring. They provide important nesting habitat
for migratory waterfowl, and were designated as a national priority area by the Secretary
of Agriculture under the Conservation Reserve Program.
Precision farming — Farmers use global positioning (GPS) technology involving satellites
and sensors on the ground and intensive information management tools to understand variations
in resource conditions within fields. They use this information to more precisely apply
fertilizers and other inputs and to more accurately predict crop yields.
Preharvest — Refers to activities on the farm or ranch that occur before crop or livestock
products are sold. “Preharvest food safety activities,” for example, is a term often used to
describe USDA’s efforts, through research and cooperative work, to foster changes in on-farm
production that can reduce public health risks in live animals before they are sent to slaughter.
Preproduction expenses — Expenses incurred prior to the period when a farm activity
begins producing, primarily raising orchard trees or breeding animals.
Prevented planting acreage — Land on which a farmer intended to plant a program
crop or insurable crop, but was unable to because of drought, flood, or other natural disaster.
Used in the calculation of disaster payments and crop insurance indemnity payments.
PRIA — Public Rangelands Improvement Act
Price elasticity of demand — The relationship between the change in the price of a
commodity and the corresponding change in the quantity that is sold. If a small change in the
price is accompanied by a relatively large change in the quantity sold, demand is said to be
elastic (responsive to price changes). But if a large change in the price is accompanied by a
small change in the quantity sold, demand is said to be inelastic. The demand for many farm
products is relatively price inelastic. As a consequence the presence of surpluses results in
disproportional large price declines, and conversely shortages result in disproportional large
price increases. For these reasons, agriculture often is described as an inherently unstable
Price index — Current price expressed as a proportion to the same price in an earlier time
period, commonly called the base period. Monthly price indexes computed by the National
Agricultural Statistics Service are the index of prices received by farmers and the index
of prices paid by farmers for commodities and services, interest, taxes, and farm wage rates.
The ratio of these two indexes is referred to as the parity ratio.
Price support — Programs operated by USDA that are intended to raise farm prices when
supply exceeds demand and prices are unacceptably low. Support usually is achieved through
nonrecourse loans, payments, and purchases. Some commodities are designated in the law to
receive mandatory support; others may be supported at the discretion of USDA. Over time,
policy changes have shifted toward farm income support and away from commodity price
Prices paid index— An index of prices that livestock and other agricultural producers pay
for goods and services (including interest, taxes, and farm wage rates) used for producing farm
products and in farm family living (1964-1968=100). Used in calculating the federal grazing
fee, among other purposes. It is referred to as the parity index when computed on a 191014=100 base.
Prices received index — An index of the prices received by farmers for agricultural
products. Commodities are weighted by their share of total farm marketings. The prices
received index and the prices paid index are used to calculate the parity ratio.
Prime farmland — Land that is best suited to and available for the production of food, feed,
forage, fiber, and oilseed crops. It can be cropland, pastureland, rangeland, forestland, or other
land. It has the soil quality, growing season, and moisture needed to produce high yields of
crops each year economically, if managed according to acceptable farm practices. Prime
farmland produces the highest yields with minimal expenditure of energy and economic
resources and does so with the least damage to the environment. Of the 334 million acres of
prime farmland, 216 million are in cropland use, according to the 1992 national resources
inventory. See also unique farmland.
Prior appropriations — The system of water allocation used primarily in the arid western
United States, where water is scarce. Under this system, earlier claims have priority over later
claims, and claims are associated with specific volumes of water. Rights to water can be lost
if they are not used.
Prior converted wetland — Under the swampbuster program, these are wetlands that
were converted to cropland before swampbuster was enacted on December 23, 1985, and meet
wetland criteria for saturated soils or water-loving plants. Under swampbuster, there are no
restrictions on either drainage maintenance or additional drainage on prior converted wetlands,
which are estimated to total more than 50 million acres.
Private grazing land lease rate index — See forage value index.
Private voluntary organization (PVO) — A nongovernmental, nonprofit organization
that provides economic and social assistance to people in need, often in foreign countries.
PVOs play an important role, along with cooperatives, in distributing U.S. food aid and
implementing development projects under P.L. 480 Title II.
PRN — Pesticide registration notice
Producer subsidy equivalent (PSE) — A measure of the value of monetary transfers to
agricultural producers resulting from agricultural policies in a given year. It includes both
transfers from consumers of agricultural products (through domestic market price supports)
and transfers from taxpayers (through budgetary or tax expenditures).
Production Credit Association (PCA) — Farm Credit System institutions that have
direct lending authority to make short and intermediate term loans to eligible retail customers.
Production expenses — Measures the aggregate business cost of farming. The two main
components are current farm operating expenses and overhead costs. Farm production
expenses are accounted for differently in the farm income measures. Only production
expenses paid in cash are included in net cash farm income. Gross farm income and net
farm income include both cash and noncash production expenses. Non-cash expenses
include such overhead costs as charges for depreciation and other capital consumption
associated with farm buildings and other structures, motor vehicles, farm machinery and
equipment, and expenses associated with farm operator dwellings.
Production flexibility contract — A 7-year contract covering crop years 1996-2002,
authorized by the FAIR Act of 1996 between the CCC and farmers, which makes fixed
income support payments in place of the previous variable target price deficiency payments.
Farmers are given production flexibility and diversification options on their contract acres
not previously allowed on base acres. Each farm’s total payment is the payment rate
times the payment quantity for participating base acres. In exchange for annual fixed
payments, the owner or operator must agree to comply with the applicable conservation plan
for the farm, the wetland protection requirements currently in law, and the constraints on
growing fruits and vegetables on contract acres. Land enrolled in a contract must be
maintained in an agricultural or related activity. The law states that not more than $35.6
billion will be paid over the 7-year period, in declining annual amounts from $5.3 billion in
FY1996 to $4.0 billion in FY in 2002. The annual payments are allocated among commodities
similar to historical deficiency payments, with 53.6% going to feed grains, 26.3% for wheat,
11.6% for upland cotton, and 8.5% for rice.
Productivity — A measure of technical efficiency, typically expressed as the added output
for an additional unit of input or the average output per unit of input, i.e., labor, land, capital
Program crops — Program crops was the expression for those crops eligible for deficiency
payments under commodity program provisions that ended in 1995. These were wheat,
feed grains, cotton, and rice. These same crops are now called contract commodities
because they are eligible for production flexibility contract payments. Other commodities
receiving support include extra long staple cotton, soybeans and other oilseeds, tobacco,
peanuts, sugar, and milk.
Program yield — The farm commodity yield of record, determined, in general, by averaging
the yield of a particular commodity for the past 5 years, dropping the high and low years. This
yield was used in calculating deficiency payments under prior laws, for example, and for
calculating contract payments for production flexibility contracts under the FAIR
Act of 1996. Program yields remained frozen at their 1985 levels from that date forward.
Projected yield — The number of bushels (or pounds or hundredweight) per acre that, based
on current weather estimates and other factors, USDA analysts estimate farmers will harvest.
Promotion program — Any program by an approved commodity promotion board or
marketing order, including paid advertising, to present a favorable image of an agricultural
commodity to the public to stimulate sales and improve the competitive position of the
commodity in the marketplace. Funds are collected through a mandatory check-off on
marketings to finance the promotion activities.
Prorate — A quantity provision in a fruit or vegetable marketing order that is intended to
even out weekly shipments (or shipments for some other specified periods of time); it aims to
prevent too much of the regulated commodity from entering the commercial market at the same
time and depressing prices.
PSA — Packers and Stockyards Act
PSE — Producer subsidy equivalent
Pseudorabies — A disease of swine that can cause severe economic losses due to
reproductive problems and fatal infection of other domestic livestock. The Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service began a cooperative federal-state-industry eradication
program in 1989 that is expected to be completed by 1999.
Public elevators — Grain elevators in which bulk storage of grain is provided for the public
for a fee. Grain of the same grade but owned by different persons is usually mixed or
commingled as opposed to storing it “identity preserved.” Some elevators are approved by
exchanges as “regular” for delivery on futures contracts.
Public lands — As defined in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, public
lands are any land and interest in land outside of Alaska owned by the United States and
administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the Bureau of Land Management. In
common usage, public lands may refer to all federal land no matter what agency has
responsibility for its management or may refer even to state- and local municipality-owned
Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978 (PRIA) — P.L. 95-514 (October 25,
1978) defines the current grazing fee formula and establishes rangeland monitoring and
inventory procedures for Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service rangelands.
The National Grasslands are exempt from PRIA.
Puerto Rico Block Grant — A federal nutrition assistance program provided in lieu
of food stamps.
Purchaser road credits — Credits granted to purchasers of timber in the national forests
in exchange for the construction of permanent roads specified in the timber sale contract. The
amount of the credits is the Forest Service’s estimate of construction costs, and the credits
can be used to pay for timber cut. Occasionally, when stumpage prices are at or near the
base rates, some or all of the credits cannot be used, and are then termed ineffective road
Put option — An option contract to sell a futures contract at an agreed price and time
at any time until the expiration of the option. A put option is purchased to protect against a
fall in price. The buyer pays a premium to the seller of this option. The buyer has the right
to sell the futures contract or enter into a short position in the futures market if the option is
exercised. See also call option.
PVO — Private voluntary organization
QA/QC — Quality assistance / quality control
QR — Quantitative restriction
Quantitative restrictions, trade — Quantitative restrictions are limitations on the quantity
or value of a product that may be permitted to enter a country. They are probably the most
familiar of the nontariff barriers and include quotas, embargoes, restrictive licensing, and
other means of limiting imports. The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture requires
the conversion of quantitative restrictions to bound tariffs and tariff rate quotas.
Quotas, import — A quantitative limit placed on the importation of specific commodities.
The protection afforded by quotas is more certain than can be obtained by raising import
duties as the effect of the latter will depend on the price elasticities of the imported
commodities. Quotas, like tariffs, can also be used to favor preferred sources of foreign
supply. Quotas may be specified as an absolute limit or changed from year to year in response
to changes in domestic supply and demand.
R&D — Research and development
Range Betterment Fund — Money collected from livestock grazing on federal lands and
used for rangeland improvements. The Bureau of Land Management calls these funds
Range Improvement Funds and uses them solely for labor, materials, and final survey and
design of projects to improve rangelands. The Forest Service calls these funds Range
Betterment Funds and uses them for planning and building rangeland improvements.
Range Improvement Fund — See Range Betterment Fund.
Rangeland — Land on which the natural potential (climax) plant cover is principally native
grasses, grasslike plants, and shrubs. It includes natural grasslands, savannahs, certain shrubs
and grasslike lands, most deserts, tundra, alpine communities, coastal marshlands, and wet
meadows. It also includes lands that are revegetated naturally or artificially and are managed
like native vegetation. The United States has 399 million acres of non-federal rangeland, about
30% of all non-federal rural lands, according to the 1992 National Resources Inventory. The
BLM manages approximately 167 million acres of federal rangelands, and the Forest Serves
manages approximately 95 million acres of federal rangelands.
Ratite — A family of large flightless birds that include ostriches, emus, and rheas, which U.S.
farmers are beginning to domesticate and raise for food. Ratite inspection has become a policy
issue because producers want USDA to include them under the mandatory meat and poultry
inspection laws. If plants that slaughter and process these birds were under mandatory
inspection, most of the cost would be covered by taxpayers. Currently, such plants must pay
for USDA inspection on a fee-for-service basis, under a voluntary ratite inspection program
instituted in 1995 under authority of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946.
Raw agricultural product — The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act defines
this term as “any food in its raw or natural state, including all fruits that are washed, colored,
or otherwise treated in the unpeeled natural form prior to marketing.” The nonregulatory
definition generally means any agricultural commodity that has undergone little or no
RBS, RBCS — Rural Business-Cooperative Service
RC — Regional conservationist
RC&D — Resource Conservation and Development Program
RCA — Soil and Water Resource Conservation Act of 1977
RCAP — Rural Community Advancement Program
RCD — Resource Conservation District
RCRA — Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
RD — Rural development
RD&D — Research, development and demonstration
RDA — Recommended dietary allowance
rDNA — Recombinant DNA
REC — Rural electric cooperative
Reclamation — The process of rehabilitating disturbed lands, or converting unproductive
lands to productive uses. The term is also used for the process of recycling or reusing water.
In the context of the Reclamation Act and reclamation law, it means putting arid lands
to use through irrigation.
Reclamation Act of 1902 — P.L. 57-161 (June 17, 1902), as amended, appropriated the
receipts from the sale and disposal of public lands and resources in 17 western states to the
construction of irrigation works for the reclamation of arid lands. Amendments made by
the Reclamation Project Act of 1939 gave the Department of the Interior, among other
things, the authority to amend repayment contracts and to extend repayment for not more than
40 years. Amendments made by the Reclamation Reform Act of 1982 (RRA) eliminated
the residency requirement provisions of reclamation law, raised the acreage limitation on
lands irrigated with full-cost water, and established and required full-cost rates for land
receiving water above the acreage limit.
Reclamation fund — A special fund established by Congress under the Reclamation Act
of 1902, as amended, for receipts from the sale of public lands and timber, proceeds from
the Mineral Leasing Act, and certain other revenues. Congress appropriates money from
this fund for the investigation, construction, operation, and administration of Bureau of
Reclamation projects. Collections from water users for payments made on the reimbursable
costs of the federal projects are also returned to the fund.
Reclamation law — The body of law beginning with the Reclamation Act of 1902 that
governs investigation, construction, and operation of Bureau of Reclamation projects.
Recombinant DNA (rDNA) — The technique of isolating DNA molecules and inserting
them into the DNA of a cell (“recombining DNA”). Also known as genetic engineering.
Recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) — Levels of essential nutrients that, on the
basis of scientific knowledge, are judged by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB of the Institute
of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences), to be adequate to meet the known nutrient
needs of practically all healthy persons. They are designed to provide a safety factor
appropriate for each nutrient and exceed the actual requirements of most persons whose
individual nutrient needs vary.
Record of decision — The document signed by a responsible official recording a decision
following the preparation and consideration of an environmental impact statement.
Recourse loan program — Under the FAIR Act of 1996, recourse loans are available
to producers of high moisture corn and seed cotton, dairy processors, and sugar processors.
The commodity is pledged as security, but in contrast to nonrecourse loans, the borrower
must repay the loan with interest within a specified period. The recourse loan program for
butter, nonfat dry milk, and cheese begins in 2000. Loans for sugar are recourse when the
tariff-rate import quota is below 1.5 million short tons. However, such loans revert to
nonrecourse status if the tariff-rate import quota is equal to above 1.5 million short tons.
Recycle / reuse — Minimizing waste generation by recovering and reprocessing usable
products that might otherwise become waste (i.e., recycling of aluminum cans, paper, and
Reduced price lunch (or breakfast, supper, snack) — A federally reimbursable meal
(or snack) served to a child who applies for and qualifies because the family’s income is
between 130% and 185% of the federal income poverty level. Schools may not charge more
than 40 cents for reduced price lunches, or more than 30 cents for reduced price breakfasts.
REE — Research, education and economics (a mission area within USDA)
Reentry interval — The period of time immediately following the application of a pesticide
during which unprotected workers should not enter a field.
Referendum — In agriculture, referendum generally refers to a vote by farmers on whether
to approve or disapprove a farm program, such as mandatory production or marketing
controls, assessments for generic commodity promotion, or marketing orders.
Registrant — Any manufacturer or formulator of a pesticide who obtains registration for
an active ingredient or product.
Registration — EPA approval of a new pesticide for specific uses before it can be sold or
distributed in the United States. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and
Rodenticide Act, EPA is responsible for registering (pre-market licensing) pesticides based
on scientific evidence that the approved use will result in no unreasonable adverse effects on
human health or the environment when applied according to approved label directions. The
and rates of application.
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) — P.L. 96-354 (September 19,1964) requires federal
agencies to consider the special needs and concerns of small business entities whenever they
engage in rulemaking subject to notice and comment requirements of the Administrative
Procedures Act or other laws. In most cases, when an agency publishes a proposed rule in
the Federal Register, it must prepare and publish a regulatory flexibility analysis describing
the impact on small businesses.
Reinsurance companies — Private companies that sell federal crop insurance policy. The
private company conducts all activities to serve the client and is reinsured by the Federal
Crop Insurance Corporation against most operational and actuarial losses.
Renewable resources — Natural resources, such as soil and water, that replenish
themselves within the limits of human time. Sometimes defined as flow resources.
Alternatively, the surface resources from forests and rangelands, including timber, livestock
forage, recreation, water, and wildlife and fish. Mineral and petroleum resources are
nonrenewable, or stock resources.
Repayment contract — A contract between a water user’s organization and the Bureau of
Reclamation by which the organization obligates itself to repay a share of the reimbursable
construction and other costs (not all construction costs are reimbursed by water users) of a
Bureau project in installments determined in accordance with reclamation law in exchange
for delivery of water.
Reregistration — The reevaluation and reapproval by EPA of pesticides originally
registered prior to 1984. The purpose of reregistration is to evaluate and approve the older
formulations against modern scientific and regulatory standards. The process is scheduled to
be completed on the older active ingredients by the end of 2002.
Reserve pool — A quantity provision in a fruit or vegetable marketing order that requires
that some marketable supplies be withheld from the fresh market to be used instead in a socalled secondary market such as for frozen or processed forms, for a nonfood use, or stored for
sales in a future marketing year.
Residual supplier — A country that supplies the world market only after importers have met
their initial needs from preferred suppliers. A residual supplier is not initially competitive
because of high prices or lower quality. The United States used to be considered a residual
supplier of grains and cotton because its commodity support programs kept its prices higher
than those of competing exporters.
Resistance, pesticide — The evolutionary capacity of pests to thrive despite exposure to
a pesticide. Some genetically engineered crops now being marketed are accompanied by
a plan to prevent or substantially retard the development of resistance.
Resource Conservation and Development Program (RC&D) — The RC&D
program, initiated in 1962 under authority of Food and Agriculture Act of 1962 (P.L. 87703), assists multi-county areas in enhancing conservation, water quality, wildlife habitat,
recreation and rural development. Work in each area is coordinated by a council. At present,
269 areas have been approved; they cover 60% of the private land in the country.
Resource Management Plan (RMP) — A BLM planning document, prepared in
accordance with Section 202 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. The
plan contains guidelines for making resource management decisions for specific areas managed
by BLM, known as resource areas.
Restricted-use pesticides — A pesticide may be classified for restricted use if it requires
special handling because of its toxicity. These may be applied only by trained, certified
applicators or those under their direct supervision.
Return flow — Surface and subsurface water that leaves the field following application of
irrigation water. While irrigation return flows are a “point source,” they are expressly
exempted from permit requirements under the Clean Water Act.
Revenue insurance — A program that provides coverage to producers against lost revenues
(or incomes) caused by low prices, low yields, or a combination of low prices and low yields.
An indemnity is paid to a producer when any combination of yield and price results in revenue
that is less than a pre-specified revenue guarantee. The FAIR Act of 1996 mandates a
USDA pilot program for crop years 1997-2000 under which producers of feed grains, wheat,
soybeans, and other crops in specified areas may elect to receive insurance against loss of
revenue. The two largest pilot programs to date are the Crop Revenue Coverage (CRC)
program and the Income Protection (IP) program. The two programs are similar, except that
the CRC allows farmers to insure their revenue at either planting-time prices or harvest prices,
whichever is higher. The full cost of the premium associated with CRC and IP is paid by the
Revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE) — Revisions to the universal soil loss
equation implemented in the mid 1990s to more accurately predict soil erosion caused by
water. It includes the same factors as the earlier formula; climate, soils, topographic
conditions, and the degree to which the use and management of the soil reduces erosion. But
it takes advantage of new knowledge about these relationships and the capabilities of computer
technology. The comparison between predicted erosion and T-value is important in making
and carrying out conservation plans and achieving conservation compliance.
Revolving loan program — A program that uses the repayments of existing loans to make
additional loans to qualified borrowers. Initial capitalization of a revolving loan fund may be
derived from federal appropriations or contributions from other sources.
RFA — Regulatory Flexibility Act
RHS — Rural Housing Service
RIA — Regulatory impact analysis/assessment
Rill erosion — An erosion process in which numerous small channels, typically a few inches
deep, are formed. It occurs mainly on recently cultivated soils or on recent cuts and fills.
Riparian — Pertaining to or situated on or along the bank of a stream or other body of water.
Often referred to in the context of cattle grazing and protection of streams for fish and wildlife
habitat, and water quality purposes. Riparian rights refers to the entitlement of a land
owner to certain uses of water on or bordering the property, including the right to prevent
diversion or misuse of upstream waters (generally a matter of state law).
Riparian buffer — A strip of vegetation planted along the bank of a body of water which
slows the rate of flow of runoff from adjoining uplands, causing sediment and other materials
to fall out onto the land before the runoff enters and pollutes the body of water.
Riparian rights— The system of water allocation used in the humid eastern portion of the
United States. Water may be used only by riparian landowners and is recognized that all users
will experience shortages periodically. In contrast with the prior appropriations system
used in the arid West, water is not acquired by use, and access to it cannot be lost by lack of
Risk assessment — The qualitative and quantitative evaluation of risks posed to health or
the environment that arise from an activity, chemical use, or technology. The process includes
describing potential adverse effects, evaluating the magnitude of each risk (e.g., the toxicity of
a chemical), estimating potential exposure to the chemical or other hazard, estimating the range
of likely effects given the likely exposures, and describing uncertainties.
Risk-benefit analysis — Comparison of the short- and long-term risks to the overall societal
benefits of an activity, chemical use, or technology. When risks and benefits are expressed in
monetary terms, this is effectively cost-benefit analysis. Both the Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act direct EPA
to base regulatory decisions on a risk-benefit or cost-benefit basis.
Risk management — The process of deciding whether and how to manage risks. Public risk
management requires consideration of legal, economic, and behavioral factors, as well as
environmental and human health effects of each management alternative. Management may
involve regulatory and non-regulatory responses. For example, characterizing the risk to farm
workers of entering a field after application of a particular pesticide is risk assessment;
promulgating reentry standards is risk management. The federal government has played an
active role over the years in helping farmers manage risk. The two major risks faced by
agricultural producers are production risks and price risks, and the USDA has assisted with
federal crop insurance and commodity programs. The Risk Management Agency
is now helping farmers utilize other risk management tool.
Risk Management Agency — An independent office within USDA that is responsible for
the supervision of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation; the administration and
oversight of the federal crop insurance program and any pilot or other programs involving
revenue insurance; the use of the futures contracts to manage farm risk and support
RMA — Risk Management Agency
RMP — Resource Management Plan
Rodenticide — A pesticide used to destroy, control, or deter rats or other rodent pests from
damaging food, crops, etc.
RPA assessment / program — As required by the Forest and Rangeland Renewable
Resources Planning Act of 1974, the Forest Service makes a periodic (every 10 years)
national assessment of renewable resource supplies, demands, and trends, to identify
potential problems and opportunities. In response to the problems and opportunities identified
in the assessment, the Forest Service prepares a periodic (every 5 years) national strategic
RPA — Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974
RPAR — Rebuttable presumption against registration
RRA — Reclamation Reform Act
RTB — Rural Telephone Bank
RUAP — Rural Utilities Assistance Program
Ruminant — An animal with a stomach that has four compartments, and a more complex
digestive system than other mammals. Ruminants include cattle, sheep, goats, deer, bison, elk,
and camels. Swine, dogs, and humans are examples of nonruminants.
Runoff, direct — Water that flows over the ground surface or through the ground directly
into streams, rivers, and lakes. Runoff is the cause of rill erosion and a source of nonpoint
RUP — Restricted use pesticide
Rural — The Bureau of the Census defines the rural population (in contrast to urban) as all
persons living in the open country, plus those in places of less than 2,500 inhabitants that are
beyond the densely settled (1,000 or more persons per square mile) suburban fringes of
metropolitan cities. However, the Rural Development Act of 1972 defines rural as any
area not included in any city or town with a population in excess of 10,000 inhabitants.
Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) — One of three USDA agencies charged
with implementing rural development policies and programs. The RBS provides loans,
guarantees, technical assistance, and grants to rural businesses and cooperatives. See also
Rural Housing Service and Rural Utilities Services. http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/
Rural Community Advancement Program (RCAP) — A program established by the
rural development Title of the FAIR Act of 1996 under which USDA is authorized to
provide state rural development block grants, direct and guaranteed loans, and other
assistance to meet rural development needs across the country. Program funding will be
allocated to three areas: (1) rural community facilities, (2) rural utilities, and (3) rural business
and cooperative development. See Rural Development Trust Fund.
Rural Development Trust Fund — Authorized under the FAIR Act of 1996 the trust
fund is used to distribute Rural Community Assistance Program funds. Funds are
allocated among states based on such factors as rural population, income, and unemployment.
Rural Electric Cooperatives — There are 874 electric distribution cooperatives and 60
generation and transmission cooperatives in the United States, which provide electric service
to some 30 million people in 46 States. Reflecting their rural location, these cooperatives
account for 7.4% of the kilowatt hours sold, but they maintain nearly half of the nation's
electric distribution lines. Rural electric cooperatives have access to insured and guaranteed
loans from USDA's Rural Utility Service. Insured loans primarily finance the construction
of facilities for the distribution of electric power in rural areas. Guaranteed loans primarily
finance generation and bulk transmission facilities for power supply borrowers.
Rural Electrification Administration — The predecessor USDA agency to the Rural
Utilities Service charged with administering certain telephone and rural electric
cooperative loan programs.
Rural Housing Service (RHS) — The USDA agency responsible for administering the
housing programs including direct loans, loan guarantees, rental assistance payments, and
grants for low income families residing in rural areas. The agency also administers the
Rural Utilities Service (RUS) — An agency within USDA charged with administering
activities that support rural telecommunications, distance learning and telemedicine,
electrical, and water and waste disposal activities. RUS assistance can be provided in the form
of direct and guaranteed loans, and grants. http://www.usda.gov/rus/home/home.htm
Rural home loans — Section 502 loans are available through the Rural Housing
Service to low- and moderate-income rural households to purchase and repair of single-family
Rural home repair loans and grants — Section 504 Loans and grants are available
through the Rural Housing Service to lower income rural homeowners for making repairs.
Rural housing preservation grants — Section 533 grants are available through the
Rural Housing Service for repairing and rehabilitating rural housing for low- and very lowincome families.
Rural Housing Service (RHS) — USDA’s Rural Housing Service administers various
housing programs intended to aid in the development of rural America. Rural housing
programs are divided into three categories: community facilities, single family housing, and
multi-family housing. These programs were formerly operated by the Rural Development
Administration and the Farmers Home Administration.
Rural multifamily housing loans — Section 515 loans are available through the Rural
Housing Service for providing rental housing for low- and moderate-income families in rural
areas, and for congregate housing for the elderly and handicapped.
Rural rental assistance — Section 521 rental assistance available through the Rural
Housing Service reduces out-of-pocket cash that very-low-income and low-income families
pay for rent, including utilities.
RUS — Rural Utilities Service
RUSLE — Revised universal soil loss equation
S/U — Stocks-to-use ratio
S-K — Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program
S&D — Special and differential treatment
S&PF — State & Private Forestry
SAB — Science Advisory Board
SAC — Suspended and canceled pesticides
SAES — State Agricultural Experiment Stations
SAF — Society of American Foresters
Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) — P.L. 93-523 (December 16, 1974) as amended,
is the key federal law for protecting public water systems from harmful contaminants. First
enacted in 1974, the Act, as amended, is administered by the EPA through regulatory programs
that establish standards and treatment requirements for drinking water contaminants, control
underground injection of wastes that might contaminate water supplies, and protect ground and
surface water sources. Regulated public water systems under the Act are those that have at
least 15 service connections or regularly serve 25 or more individuals. The 1996 amendments
(P.L. 104-182) broadened the definition of “public water system” to include systems that
deliver water through pipes or “other constructed conveyances,” and intended to include
agricultural irrigation systems that convey water through open viaducts or ditches (unless the
water is not used for “residential uses”, or unless alternative water is provided for drinking and
cooking; or unless water for drinking, cooking, and bathing is treated). The 1996 amendments
also require states to identify, to the extent practicable, origins of contaminants in areas
providing source waters for public water systems to determine the susceptibility of systems to
Safe Meat and Poultry Inspection Panel — A permanent advisory panel that could be
created under a provision of the FAIR Act of 1996. The panel would review and evaluate
inspection policies and procedures and any proposed changes to them.
Safeguards, import — A trade policy tool available to temporarily increase border
protection for designated commodities and products. Its purpose is to allow a producing sector
to adjust to changed market conditions before facing competition again without such protection.
For agricultural products subject to tariffication, the Uruguay Round’s Agreement on
Agriculture (Part I, Article 5) establishes a special agricultural safeguard that allows countries
to impose an additional duty when sudden import surges (volumes) exceed, or import prices
fall below, a trigger level. The United States has announced quantity and price trigger levels
for those products whose imports were previously restricted using Section 22 fees and quotas
and for which tariff-rate quotas are now in place: beef, mutton, 18 dairy products, peanuts,
peanut butter and paste, raw cane sugar, refined sugar and syrups, eight types of sugarcontaining products, mixed condiments and seasonings, animal feed containing milk, and six
cotton categories. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) includes a
special agricultural safeguard to provide added protection against import surges of six seasonal
vegetables and fruit from Mexico until tariffs are completely phased out by year-end 2003.
Covered by this safeguard are U.S. imports from Mexico of fresh tomatoes, eggplant, chili
peppers, squash, onion and shallots, and watermelon during specified time periods.
Comparable safeguards exist on Mexican imports from the United States of 17 categories of
goods that include live swine, certain pork products, certain potato products, fresh apples, and
coffee extract. NAFTA provides that no such special safeguard may be maintained on a good
if it is the subject of an emergency action. Both the Uruguay Round and NAFTA special
safeguard provisions differ from broader import relief authority laid out in Section 201 of the
Trade Act of 1974.
Sales for local currencies — A provision of P.L. 480 permits a portion of commercial
sales (under Title I) to be repaid in the country’s local currency.
Salmonella — A pathogenic, diarrhea-producing bacterium that is the leading cause of
human foodborne illness among intestinal pathogens. It is commonly found in varying amounts
in raw meats, poultry, milk, and eggs, but other foods can carry it. Under 1996 rules published
by USDA to control pathogens in meat and poultry, all plants that slaughter food animals and
that produce raw ground meat products must meet and stay below a standard national incidence
rate for salmonella contamination. The standards, which take effect in January 1998, vary by
product. Plants where USDA testing indicates contamination rates are above the national
standard will be required to take remedial actions.
Salvage rider — Section 2001 in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1995
(P.L. 104-19, July 27, 1995) to expand salvage timber sales from July 27, 1995 through
December 31, 1996, by exempting them from public challenges under environmental laws; also
controversial because it reinstated numerous timber sales in Washington and Oregon that had
been stopped to protect endangered and threatened species habitat.
Salvage sales — Timber sales form national forests to remove dead, infested, damaged,
or down trees and associated trees for stand improvement; controversial partly because there
are no standards for the number or proportion of trees that must be dead, infested, damaged,
or down and partly because the Forest Service retains at least some of the revenues to
prepare and administer future salvage sales.
Sample grade — In commodities, usually the lowest quality of a commodity, too low to be
acceptable for delivery in satisfaction of futures contracts.
Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and agreements — Measures to protect
humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants. The final act of the
Uruguay Round of the Multilateral Trade Negotiations contains “The Agreement on
the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.” It applies to all sanitary (relating
to animals) and phytosanitary (relating to plants) (SPS) measures that may have a direct or
indirect impact on international trade. The SPS agreement includes a series of understandings
(trade disciplines) on how SPS measures will be established and used by countries when they
establish, revise, or apply their domestic laws and regulations. Countries agree to base their
SPS standards on science, and as guidance for their actions, the agreement encourages
countries to use standards set by international standard setting organizations. The SPS
agreement seeks to ensure that SPS measures will not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate
against trade of certain other members nor be used to disguise trade restrictions. In this SPS
agreement, countries maintain the sovereign right to provide the level of health protection they
deem appropriate, but agree that this right will not be misused for protectionist purposes nor
result in unnecessary trade barriers. A rule of equivalency rather than equality applies to
the use of SPS measures.
Sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs) — Refers to the cleaning
procedures that meat and poultry plants use, both before and during production, to prevent
contamination of products. Site-specific SSOPs were required to be implemented in January
1997 by all slaughter and processing plants, under the comprehensive pathogen reduction
regulations issued by USDA in July 1996.
SAB — Science Advisory Board
SAP — Scientific Advisory Panel
SARE — Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Program
SBP — School Breakfast Program
SC; STC — State conservationist
Scaling — A method for Forest Service personnel, or an independent third-party, to
measure the volume of timber actually removed as a result of a timber sale. Scaled sales are
a timber sales that use scaling for billing purchasers at the stumpage price for the timber cut.
SCD/SWDC — Soil Conservation District; or Soil and Water Conservation
School Breakfast Program — Federal meal service program that, in FY1996, provided
federal reimbursements for over 1.1 billion breakfasts served in nearly 62,000 schools to 6.6
million children. Authorized by the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, federal funding is
provided in the form of cash reimbursements for each breakfast served, varied in amount by
the family income of the participating child. All children in participating schools and
residential institutions are eligible for a federally subsidized meal, regardless of family income.
However, free meals must be offered to children from families with incomes below 130% of
the federal poverty income level, and reduced price meals to those with family incomes
between 130 and 185% of the poverty level.
School Lunch Program — See National School Lunch Program.
School meals initiative for healthy children — Initiative undertaken by the Food and
Consumer Service (FCS) of USDA to revise and update the nutrition standards of school meals
and bring them into compliance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Science Advisory Board — A group of independent scientists selected by the Administrator
of EPA to advise on the scientific and technical aspects of environmental problems and issues
and who, at the request of the Administrator, review the scientific aspects of any reports or
other written products prepared by the agency. Congress established the Board when it enacted
the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978
Scientific Advisory Panel — Formally known as the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel, this
group of independent scientists was authorized by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and
Rodenticide Act. Its purpose is to provide scientific advice to EPA on pesticides and
Scrapie — A fatal, degenerative neurological disease of sheep and goats. The similarity of
scrapie to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) (mad cow) disease in cattle, with
the possibility of subsequent transmission to humans, has caused the Food and Drug
Administration to propose regulations to prohibit using sheep and goat by-products as a
component in cattle feeds. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also
conducts a “voluntary scrapie flock certification program” to certify scrapie-free herds.
SDWA — Safe Drinking Water Act
SE — Salmonella enteritidis
SEC — Office of the Secretary; Securities and Exchange Commission
Section 3 lands — Public lands within a grazing district administered by the Bureau
of Land Management under Section 3 of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. BLM
authorizes livestock grazing on these lands by issuing permits to permittees. Section 3 lands
make up the vast majority of BLM-administered lands.
Section 4 general or basic assistance — This refers to the section of National School
Lunch Act requiring the federal government to subsidize all lunches served through the school
lunch program, regardless of the income of the participant. Sometimes referred to as paid or
full-price lunches because children buying meals pay most of the cost, as opposed to those
getting free lunches or those paying not more than 40 cents for a reduced price.
Section 11 special assistance - This refers to the section of National School Lunch Act
that provides additional cash reimbursements (or so-called special assistance payments) for
free lunches and reduced price lunches to children from lower income families.
Section 15 lands — Public lands outside a grazing district administered by Bureau of
Land Management under Section 15 of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. The BLM
authorizes livestock grazing on these lands by issuing leases private parties.
Section 22 — A provision of permanent agricultural law (Agricultural Adjustment Act
Amendment of 1935) that allows the President to impose import fees or import quotas
to prevent imports from non-WTO member countries from undermining the price support
and supply control objectives of domestic farm programs. Legislation implementing
NAFTA and the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture exempts NAFTA partners and
WTO member countries from Section 22 quotas and fees. Under both trade agreements, the
United States converted then-in-effect Section 22 restrictions into tariff-rate quotas. This
effectively eliminates Section 22 as a tool to shield domestic price support operations.
Section 32 — Section 32 of Agricultural Adjustment Act Amendment of 1935 was
enacted to widen market outlets for surplus agricultural commodities as one means of
strengthening farm prices. Section 32 programs are financed by a permanent appropriation
equal to 30% of the import duties collected on all items entering the United States under the
customs laws, plus any unused balances up to $300 million. Most funds are annually
transferred by appropriators to pay for child nutrition programs, although a portion of
money is reserved to buy perishable commodities (mainly produce, meat, and poultry products)
that are in surplus. Section 32 funds were used to finance the Cottonseed Oil Assistance
Program and Sunflower Oil Assistance Program export subsidy programs, which were
effectively terminated in the FAIR Act of 1996.
Section 201 — A section of the Trade Act of 1974 that permits the President to grant
temporary import relief, by raising import duties or imposing nontariff barriers on goods
entering the United States that injure or threaten to injure domestic industries producing like
goods. This provision is the analog of GATT Article 19, which allows GATT contracting
parties to provide relief from injurious competition when temporary protection will enable the
domestic industry to make adjustments to meet the competition.
Section 301 — A section of the Trade Act of 1974 that authorizes the President to take all
appropriate action, including retaliation, to obtain the removal of any act, policy, or practice
of a foreign government which violates an international trade agreement or is unjustified,
unreasonable, or discriminatory, and which burdens or restricts U.S. commerce.
Section 404 — A provision of the Clean Water Act establishing a program regulating the
discharge of dredge or fill material into the nation’s waters. Permits for individual dredge or
fill activities are issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, subject to guidelines prepared by
EPA. Primarily because this program can impact economic development by restricting the
filling of wetlands, it has been controversial. It applies to agricultural, as well as nonagricultural lands. However, normal farming operations, silviculture, and ranching
activities—such as plowing, cultivating, and minor drainage, and the construction and
maintenance of farm and stock ponds, irrigation and drainage ditches, and farm and forest
roads—are exempted by law from the permit requirements of this program. In addition,
Section 404 authorizes “general permits” for certain activities, including several agricultural
ones, so that individual landowners need not apply for a permit. For example, there are general
permits for cranberry bogs and for rice culture.
Section 416 — A section of the Agricultural Act of 1949 that provides for the disposition
of agricultural commodities held by the Commodity Credit Corporation to prevent waste.
Disposal is usually carried out by donation of commodities to charitable groups and foreign
Section 502 loans — A rural housing loan program, administered by USDA’s Rural
Housing Service (RHS), authorized under Section 502 of the Housing Act of 1949.
Borrowers may obtain loans for purchasing or repairing new or existing single-family housing.
Loans are made directly by RHS or by private lenders with a USDA guarantee. Borrowers
with income of 80% or less of the area median may be eligible for 33-year direct loans and may
receive interest credit to bring the interest rate to as low as 1%. In a given fiscal year, at least
40% of the units financed under this section must be made available only to very low-income
families or individuals (below 60% of the area median)with terms up to 38 years. Borrowers
must have the means to repay the loans, but be unable to secure reasonable credit terms
elsewhere. Borrowers with income of up to 115% of the area median may be eligible for 30year guaranteed loans from private lenders. Priority is given to first-time homebuyers, and the
RHS may require that borrowers complete a homeownership counseling program.
Section 504 loans and grants — A USDA rural housing repair program authorized under
Section 504 of the Housing Act of 1949. Under current regulations, rural homeowners with
incomes of 50% or less of the area median may qualify for the Rural Housing Service direct
loans to repair their homes. Loans are limited to $15,000 and have a 20-year term at a 1%
interest rate. Owners of age 62 or more may qualify for grants of up to $5,000 to pay for
needed repairs. To qualify for the grants, the elderly must lack the ability to repay the full cost
of the repairs. Depending on the cost of the repairs and the income of the homeowner, the
owner may be eligible for a grant for the full cost of the repairs or for some combination of a
loan and a grant to covers repair costs. The combination loan and grant may total no more
Section 514 loans — A USDA domestic farm labor housing program authorized under
Section 514 of the Housing Act of 1949. The Rural Housing Service (RHS) makes
loans to farm owners, associations of farm owners, or nonprofit organizations to provide
“modest” living quarters, basic household furnishings, and related facilities. The loans are
repayable in 33 years and bear an interest rate of 1%. Applicants, who own farms or who
represent farm owners, must show that the farming operations have a demonstrated need for
farm labor housing and the applicants must agree to own and operate the property on a
nonprofit basis. Except for state and local public agencies or political subdivisions, the
applicants must be unable to provide the housing from their own resources and unable to obtain
the credit from other sources on terms and conditions that they could reasonably be expected
to fulfill and still provide farmworker housing at rental rates that would be affordable to the
workers. The RHS may make exceptions to the “credit elsewhere” test when (1) there is a need
in the area for housing for migrant farm workers and the applicant will provide such housing,
and (2) there is no state or local body or no nonprofit organization that, within a reasonable
period of time, is willing and able to provide the housing.
Section 515 loans — A USDA rural housing program authorized under Section 515 of the
Housing Act of 1949. The Rural Housing Service is authorized to make loans to provide
rental housing for low- and moderate-income families in rural areas. Section 515 loans also
may be used for congregate housing for the elderly and handicapped. Loans under Section 515
are made to individuals, corporations, associations, trusts, partnerships, or public agencies.
The loans are made at 1% interest for a term of 50 years. Except for public agencies, all
borrowers must demonstrate that financial assistance from other sources will not enable the
borrower to provide the housing at terms that are affordable to the target population.
Section 516 grants — A USDA farm labor housing program authorized under Section 516
of the Housing Act of 1949. Qualified nonprofit organizations, Indian tribes, or public
bodies obtain grants for the development cost of farm labor housing. Grants may be used
simultaneously with Section 514 loans if the housing, for which there is a “pressing need,”
will not be built without assistance from the Rural Housing Service. Grants may be made
for up to 90% of the development cost of the housing. In a given fiscal year, up to 10% of the
Section 516 funds shall be for domestic and migrant farm worker housing. Applicants must
contribute at least 10% of the total development costs from their own resources or from other
sources including Section 514 loans. Funds may be used to buy, build, or improve housing and
related facilities for farm workers, and to purchase and improve the land upon which the
housing will be located, including installation of streets, water supply and waste disposal
systems, parking areas, and driveways as well as for the purchase and installation of appliances
such as ranges, refrigerators, and clothes washers and dryers. Related facilities may include
the maintenance workshop, recreation center, small infirmary, laundry room, day care center,
and office and living quarters for the resident manager.
Section 521 rental assistance — Rental assistance authorized under Section 521 of the
Housing Act of 1949. Owners of housing financed under Section 515 or Section 514
may receive rental assistance payments from the Rural Housing Service (RHS). The
assistance payments enable eligible tenants to make monthly rent payments that do not exceed
the greater of (1) 30 percent of monthly adjusted family income, (2) 10 percent of monthly
income, or (3) for welfare recipients, the portion of the family's welfare payment that is
designated for housing costs. The rental assistance payments, which are made directly to the
borrowers, make up the difference between the tenants' payments and the RHS-approved rent
for the units. Borrowers must agree to operate the property on a limited profit or nonprofit
basis. The term of the rental assistance agreement is 20 years for new construction projects
and 5 years for existing projects. Agreements may be renewed for up to 5 years. An eligible
borrower who does not participate in the program may be petitioned to participate by 20
percent or more of the tenants eligible for rental assistance.
Section 523 loans — A USDA mutual self-help rural housing program authorized under
Section 523 of the Housing Act of 1949 and administered by the Rural Housing Service.
Nonprofit organizations may obtain 2-year loans to purchase and develop land that is to be
subdivided into building sites for housing. The interest rate is 3% for these loans. Applicants
must demonstrate a need for the proposed building sites in the locality. Sponsors may also
obtain technical assistance (TA) grants to pay for all or part of the cost of developing,
administering, and coordinating programs of technical and supervisory assistance to the
families who are building their own homes. Each family is expected to contribute at least 700
hours of labor in building homes for each other. Applicants must demonstrate that (1) there
is a need for self-help housing in the area, (2) the applicant has or can hire qualified people to
carry out its responsibilities under the program, and (3) funds for the proposed TA project are
not available from other sources. The program is generally limited to very low- and lowincome families. Moderate income families may be eligible to participate provided they are
unable to pay for a home built by the contract method. TA funds may not be used to hire
construction workers or to buy real estate or building materials. Private or public nonprofit
corporations, however, may be eligible for 2-year site loans under Section 523. The loans may
be used to purchase and develop land in rural areas. The land is subdivided into building sites
and sold on a nonprofit basis to low and moderate income families. Generally, a land loan
must result in at least 10 home sites. The sites need not be contiguous. Sites financed through
Section 523 may only be sold to families who are building homes by the mutual self-help
method. The homes are financed through the Section 502 program.
Section 524 loans — Land acquisition and development loans authorized under Section 524
of the Housing Act of 1949. Nonprofit organizations and Indian tribes may obtain loans
from the Rural Housing Service to purchase and develop land that is to be subdivided into
building sites for housing low- and moderate-income families. The loans are made for a 2-year
period. Sites financed through Section 524 have no restrictions on the methods by which the
homes are financed or constructed. The interest rate on Section 524 site loans is the Treasury
cost of funds.
Section 533 grants — A USDA rural housing rehabilitation program authorized under
Section 533 of the Housing Act of 1949. The Rural Housing Service is authorized to
make grants to capable organizations for (1) rehabilitating single family housing in rural areas
which is owned by low- and very low-income families, (2) rehabilitating rural rental properties,
and (3) rehabilitating rural cooperative housing structured to provide affordable housing to
low- and very low-income occupants. The homes must be located in rural areas and be in need
of housing preservation assistance. Assisted families must meet the income restrictions
(income of 80% or less of the median income for the area) and must have occupied the property
for at least one year prior to receiving assistance. Occupants of leased homes may be eligible
for assistance if (1) the unexpired portion of the lease extends for 5 years or more, and (2) the
lease permits the occupant to make modifications to the structure and precludes the owner from
increasing the rent because of the modifications.
Sediments — Particulate material, including soil, sand, and minerals, transported and
deposited by water or wind (see erosion). Waterborne sediments cloud the water diminishing
sunlight available to aquatic plants; sediments deposited in reservoirs, rivers, and harbors
destroy fish and wildlife habitat and may fill shipping channels. Farming, mining, and building
and construction activities that expose soil to wind and rain are major sources of sediments.
Seed bank — A facility used for the preservation and dissemination of seed, particularly
varieties that are not in commercial use and that may be threatened with extinction. The USDA
administers the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System.
Self-Help land development loans — Section 523 loans are for acquiring and
developing land that will be used for mutual self-help housing.
Septic system — An on-site system designed to treat and dispose of domestic sewage from
a residence or business not connected to a sewer line. A typical septic system consists of a tank
that receives waste and holds it while bacteria decompose solids, and a system of tile lines or
a pit for disposal of the liquid effluent. The sludge that remains in the tank after decomposition
of the solids must be pumped out periodically. By using the assimilative capacity of the land,
a properly operating septic system has minimal impact but an improperly functioning system
can be a source of nitrogen pollution and of groundwater contamination.
Set-aside program — A program (not used since the late 1970s) under which farmers are
required to set aside a certain percentage of their total planted acreage and devote this land to
approved conservation uses (such as grasses, legumes, and small grain which is not allowed
to mature) in order to be eligible for nonrecourse loans and deficiency payments. Setaside acreage is based on the number of acres a farmer actually plants in the program year as
opposed to being based on prior crop years. The authority for set-aside was eliminated by the
FAIR Act of 1996.
SFIREG — State FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group
SFSP — Summer Food Service Program
Sharecropper — A tenant who receives a share of the crops, livestock, or livestock products
from the landowner, who in turn may extend credit to and supervises the tenant. The tenant
generally supplies only labor.
Sheep Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1994 — P.L. 103-407 (October
22, 1994) enabled sheep producers and feeders and importers of sheep and sheep products to
develop, finance, and carry out a nationally coordinated program for sheep and sheep product
promotion, research, and information. This law was enacted a year after the legislation to
phase out the wool price support program. The USDA was authorized to issue a sheep and
wool promotion, research, education, and information order subject to approval referenda
among producers, feeders, and importers. In a 1996 referendum, the proposed check-off
program was defeated. About 53% of nearly 12,000 ballots opposed the order. This group
represented 67% of the production that voted.
Sheet erosion — The removal of a thin, relatively uniform layer of soil from the land surface
caused by runoff.
Shelterbelt — A plant barrier of trees, shrubs, or other approved perennial vegetation
designed to reduce wind erosion.
Shelter expense deductions — For the purpose of the food stamp program, shelter expense
deductions are calculated as any shelter expense (including items such as utilities and
insurance) in excess of 50% of a household’s monthly income after all other potential
deductions have been taken out. In effect, this means that all shelter expenses above roughly
35% of a typical household’s total cash income are themselves deductible. Shelter expense
deductions are limited by a “cap” of $250 a month (which will rise, in stages, to $300 a month
Shippers export declaration — A form required by the government for the compilation of
statistics on trade. It is necessary on practically every commercial shipment leaving the United
States with the exception of mail shipments of small value.
Shipping holiday — A fruit and vegetable marketing order provision that prohibits the
commercial shipping of the regulated commodity during periods following certain holidays
when demand is historically low—such as the several days after Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Short — (1) The selling side of an open futures contract; (2) a trader whose net position
in the futures market shows an excess of open sales over open purchases. See also long.
Short selling — Selling a futures contract with the idea of delivering on it or offsetting
it at a later date.
Short ton — Two thousand pounds. By contrast, a long ton equals 2,240 pounds. A metric
ton equals 2,204.62 pounds.
SIC — Standard industrial classification
Sign-up period — A USDA-prescribed time period, usually lasting several months, when
farmers can enroll in a crop price support or other farm program.
Silt — Sedimentary materials composed of fine or intermediate-sized mineral particles.
Silviculture — A branch of forestry dealing with the development and care of forests.
SIP — Stewardship Incentives Program
Site loans — Section 523 loans and Section 524 loans are for acquiring and developing
land for low- and moderate-income rural residents.
Smith-Lever Act of 1914 — P.L. 63-95 (May 8, 1914) authorized and provided initial
funding for states to establish an educational outreach arm to “extend” the results of research
programs at the land grant colleges of agriculture and their affiliated state agricultural
experiment stations to all citizens who might benefit from them. In 1962 Congress amended
the act to establish a formula for distributing federal funds to states for agricultural extension
programs. The formula provides for each state to receive what it received in 1962 as a base.
Funds appropriated in excess of the 1962 level are allocated as follows: 4% of funds go to the
federal component of the Cooperative Extension System (now part of the Cooperative
State Research, Education, and Extension Service of USDA); of the remainder, 20%
is allocated to each state equally; and 80% is allocated on the basis of a state’s share of the
U.S. rural and farm populations. On average, Smith-Lever formula funds account for about
30% of a state’s total funding for extension programs.
Smoot-Hawley — See Tariff Act of 1930.
SMP — School Milk Program
SNE — Society for Nutrition Education
SOAP — Sunflowerseed Oil Assistance Program
SOCMI — Synthetic Organic Chemicals Manufacturing Industry
Sodbuster — A program created by Title 12 of the Food Security Act of 1985 designed
to discourage the plowing up of erosion-prone grasslands for use as cropland. If such highly
erodible land is used for crop production without proper conservation measures as laid out in
a conservation plan, a producer may lose eligibility to participate in USDA farm
programs. Sodbuster provisions remain in effect under the FAIR Act of 1996.
Soil — In the United States, about 70,000 kinds of soil are recognized in the nationwide
system of classification. Each has a unique set of characteristics and a potential for use. These
characteristics are important in designing a conservation plan to protect the soil from
erosion if it is being cultivated. The Natural Resources Conservation Service is responsible
for mapping the United States by soil type, through the Soil Survey Program.
Soil Bank Act — Title I of the Agricultural Act of 1956 (P.L. 84-540), designated the
Soil Bank Act, created the Acreage Reserve Program to retire land producing basic
commodities under an annual agreement from 1956 through 1959, and the Conservation
Reserve Program, to retire agricultural land under contracts of 3, 5, or 10 years. The Soil
Bank Act was repealed by Section 601 of the Food and Agriculture Act of 1965 (P.L.
89-321). Nevertheless, this early Conservation Reserve served as the model for the current
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which was enacted in the Food Security Act
Soil Bank Program — A federal program of the late 1950s and early 1960s that paid
farmers to retire land from production for 10 years; the predecessor to today’s Conservation
Reserve Program. Some elements in the CRP, such as a limit on CRP acres per county,
were a response to the Soil Bank experience.
Soil conditioner — An organic material like humus or compost that helps soil absorb water,
build a bacterial community, and take up mineral nutrients.
Soil conservation district — A legal subdivision of state government, with a locally elected
governing body, responsible for developing and carrying out a program of soil and water
conservation within a geographic boundary, usually coinciding with county lines. The nearly
3,000 districts in the United States have varying names — soil conservation districts, soil and
water conservation districts, natural resources districts, resource districts, resource
Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936 — P.L. 74-46 (February 26,
1936) was designed to support farm income by making soil-conservation and soil-building
payments to participating farmers. This design overcame the unconstitutional taxes on
processors in the support program authorized by the Agricultural Adjustment Act of
1933. The 1936 Act supported farm income and reduced surpluses by paying farmers for
shifting from crops in excess supply (soil depleting crops) to soil building crops like legumes
and grasses. This law, as amended, continues to serve as the enabling authority for a number
of activities and programs carried out by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Soil Conservation Service (SCS) — Replaced by a new USDA agency, the Natural
Resource Conservation Service after USDA reorganization in 1994. Responsibilities
include carrying out technical assistance programs in cooperation with soil conservation
districts to improve and conserve soil and water resources, and operating related programs
such as the national soil survey and the natural resources inventory.
Soil loss tolerance (“T” value) — For a specific soil, the maximum average annual soil
loss expressed as tons per acre per year that will permit current production levels to be
maintained economically and indefinitely. T values range from 2 to 5 tons per acre per year.
According to the 1992 national resources inventory, about 63 million acres of highly
erodible cropland are still eroding at more than their “T” value, including 21 million acres
that are still eroding at three times “T”.
Soil moisture zone — Depth of soil from which plant roots extract water.
Soil quality (health) — Soil quality includes consideration of measures related to both
productivity for crops and environmental factors.
Soil series — A group of soils having horizons (or layers) similar in characteristics and
arrangement in the soil profile, except for the texture of the surface portion. They are given
proper names from place names within the areas where they occur. Thus, Norfolk, Miami, and
Houston are names of some well-known soil series.
Soil solarization — Fumigating and warming soil by covering it with black plastic. This is
an alternative pest control technique being investigated as an alternative to the use of methyl
bromide (a chemical fumigant use in Florida tomato production and for other speciality crops
and will be phased out of use because of its ozone depleting effects.
Soil sterilant — A chemical that temporarily or permanently prevents the growth of all plants
and animals, depending on the chemical. Soil sterilants must be registered as pesticides.
Soil survey — A program of the Natural Resource Conservation Service to inventory soil
resources as a basis for determining land capabilities and conservation treatments that are
needed, provide soil information to the public (primarily through maps), and provide technical
support to those who use soils information. About 90% of the private lands have been mapped.
In FY1996, maps were prepared or updated on more than 17 million acres.
Sole source bid — This refers to the required bidding process for infant formula sold through
the WIC program. It offers an infant formula manufacturer the option of bidding to be the only
provider of infant formula contained in WIC food packages in the state. Contracts must be
awarded to the company that offers the lowest price (or largest discount) on its infant formula.
Solid waste — Non-liquid, non-soluble materials ranging from municipal garbage to
industrial wastes that contain complex and sometimes hazardous substances. Solid wastes also
include sewage sludge, agricultural refuse, demolition wastes, and mining residues.
Technically, solid waste also refers to liquids and gases in containers. The disposal of solid
waste is regulated by EPA.
SOPs — Standard operating procedures
Soup Kitchen-Food Bank Program — Originally authorized under the Hunger
Prevention Act of 1988 to buy commodities for soup kitchens and food banks not
participating in the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP). Program authority
was extended through FY2002 by an amendment to the Hunger Prevention Act of 1988,
enacted under the FAIR Act of 1996. This program was consolidated with EFAP by an
amendment to the Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983 that was enacted as part of
the 1996 welfare reform law (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Reconciliation Act of 1996, P.L. 104-193).
Special and differential treatment (S&D) — A set of GATT provisions (in Article 18)
that exempts developing countries from the same strict trade rules and disciplines of more
industrialized countries. In the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, for example,
developing countries are given longer time periods to phase in export subsidy and tariff
reductions than the more industrialized countries.
Special Milk Program — Offers federal reimbursements for each half-pint of milk served
to a child in a participating outlet, which generally is any school or facility caring for children
that does not participate in other federally subsidized meal programs. There is an exception
from this limitation for kindergarten children in split session programs. The program is
permanently authorized under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966. Schools may offer free
milk to children meeting free lunch income requirements, if they choose, and this milk is
reimbursed at full cost. Otherwise, children buy so-called paid milk, which is subsidized at a
legislatively set rate for each half-pint served. This program is administered by USDA and
funded by annual agricultural appropriations.
Special review — Formerly known as Rebuttable Presumption Against Registration (RPAR),
this is a regulatory process through which existing pesticides suspected of posing
unreasonable risks to human health, non-target organisms, or the environment are referred for
review by EPA. Such review requires an intensive risk/benefit analysis with opportunity for
public comment. If risk is found to outweigh social and economic benefits, regulatory actions
ranging from label revisions and use-restriction to cancellation or suspended registration
can be initiated.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children
(WIC) — WIC provides federal grant funds to state health agencies and recognized Indian
tribal organizations to operate programs for low-income pregnant and postpartum mothers,
infants, and children (under age 5) who are at risk due to inadequate income and diet. The
program offers monthly food packages consisting of specifically authorized supplemental foods
containing nutrients often found lacking in the diets of WIC participants, and is operated at the
local level by public health and other agencies with a link to health care providers. WIC foods
include infant formula and cereals, milk, cheese, eggs, breakfast cereals, fruit and vegetable
juices, dry beans and peas, and peanut butter. Participants must meet both a low-income and
nutritional risk test to be eligible. Foods are provided either directly by a local WIC clinic, or
more commonly, in the form of WIC vouchers issued to participants that list specific types
and amounts of foods that may be redeemed by the participant at authorized grocery stores.
The program is authorized through FY1998 under Section 17 of the Child Nutrition Act
Specialty crops — Usually refers to crops covered by marketing orders that generally are
not fruits or vegetables. Specialty crops have included almonds, filberts, walnuts, spearmint
oil, hops, dates, raisins, and prunes.
Species — Species represent the lowest and most important of the primary groupings used in
classifying plants, animals, and microorganisms. While no single definition applies to all
organisms, biologists rely principally on (1) morphological and genetic similarities and (2), for
sexually reproducing organisms, the capability of interbreeding with one another but not other
groups. If different species do interbreed, the offspring, if any, are often sterile. Biologists
give species unique, binomial names: a generic name that includes closely related species, and
a species-specific name. The horse, for example, is Equus caballus; the donkey or ass is
Equus asinus. (Their offspring, the mule, is sterile.) As populations of organisms vary
geographically and change over time (becoming extinct, or splitting or evolving into new
species), species classifications are neither absolute nor immutable; where some biologists see
variations within a species (and may designate subspecies), others may see separate species.
About 1.5 to 2 million species have been named, but scientists estimate the total number of
species could be 5 to 100 million, many of them probably undiscovered microorganisms. The
Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects species designated as endangered or threatened
with extinction; these protections prohibit taking endangered species and can include
restrictions on habitat alterations, such as logging or water pollution. Because of the way
“species” is defined in the ESA, policy debates have arisen over whether certain groups of
organisms qualify for listing (e.g., northern goshawks and the Alexander Archipelago wolf).
Speculator — In commodity trading, an individual who does not hedge, but who trades in
futures contracts with the objective of achieving profits through the successful anticipation
of price movements.
Spot commodity — The actual commodity as distinguished from a futures contract.
Sometimes used to refer to cash commodities available for immediate delivery.
Spot market — A public or open marketplace (such as open exchanges or auction houses)
where products (including agricultural products such as livestock, grain, cotton, etc.) are
bought and sold. The Minneapolis Grain Exchange and the National Cheese Exchange are
examples. Spot also refers to a maturing delivery month of a futures contract.
Spot price — The price at which a physical commodity for immediate delivery is selling at
a given time and place. See cash price.
Spread (or straddle) — The purchase of a futures contract of one delivery month
against the sale of another futures delivery month of the same commodity; the purchase of one
delivery month of one commodity against the sale of that same delivery month of a different
commodity; or the purchase of one commodity in one market against the sale of the commodity
in another market, to take advantage of a profit from a change in price relationships. The term
spread is also used to refer to the difference between the price of a futures month and the price
of another month of the same commodity. A spread can also apply to options contracts.
SPS — Sanitary and phytosanitary
SRM — Society for Range Management
SSOPs — Sanitation standard operating procedures
SSSA — Soil Science Society of America
Standard deduction — For the food stamp program, the standard deduction ($134 a
month) is an amount subtracted from all recipients’ total monthly cash income before any other
deduction. It is meant to recognize expenses for household necessities not accounted for by
other deductions and target more benefits to the very poorest recipients.
Staple — A commodity that is widely and regularly produced and consumed (i.e., wheat, rice,
potatoes). A term used to designated the length of fiber in cotton and wool.
State Agricultural Experiment Stations (SAES) — The Hatch Act of 1887
established an agricultural experiment station to be affiliated with the land grant college of
agriculture in each state. Research done at these stations underpins the curriculum of the
colleges, as well as the programs of the Cooperative Extension System.
State and Private Forestry — A branch of the Forest Service providing technical and
financial assistance to states and to private landowners for forest management and for forest
State inspection programs — Often refers to the state-run meat and poultry inspection
programs to which USDA contributes 50% of the cost. State programs (about half the states
use them) must be certified by USDA to be at least equal to federal inspection requirements.
However, products from state-inspected plants (most of them are relatively smaller operations)
cannot be sold outside of the state. Small plants and many state officials have endorsed bills
in Congress that would permit state-inspected products to be sold into interstate and foreign
commerce, but large meat and poultry companies (most of them already under federal
inspection) generally oppose such a change.
State rural development block grant — Under provisions of the Rural Community
Advancement Program (RCAP), each state may receive, for direct administration, up to
10% of the funds allocated to the state. These funds may be used to establish a state
administered block grant. The first 5% of the state block grant allocated does not require the
community to make a matching fund contribution. A state may receive the additional 5% if it
provides $2 in matching funds for every $1 in RCAP funds it would receive.
State rural development councils — A collaborative partnership comprised of
representatives of the federal, state, local, and tribal governments, the private sector, and the
nonprofit sector. Councils are created by a memorandum of understanding between USDA and
the state Governor. The councils’ purpose is to promote rural development within the state.
State technical committee — Advisory groups to state conservationists (coordinators of
all Natural Resource Conservation Service activities within a state) created in the
FACT Act of 1990 and amended in the FAIR Act of 1996. These groups can include
representatives from agencies, agriculture, agribusiness, and non-profits, as well as individuals
with a demonstrated expertise. Responsibilities assigned by the FAIR Act include
establishing procedures for evaluating petitions on new conservation practices and
identifying priority areas for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program and
Wetland Reserve Program.
State trading enterprises (STEs) — STEs are enterprises authorized to engage in trade
(exporting and/or importing) that are owned, sanctioned, or otherwise supported by
government. STEs are legitimate trading entities and are subject to GATT rules. Some U.S.
agricultural producers think, however, that STEs through their exercise of monopoly power and
government support may distort trade in their respective commodities.
STC — State technical committee; state conservationist
STE — State trading enterprise
Steagall Amendment of 1941 — P.L. 77-144 (July 1, 1941) required price support for
many nonbasic commodities at 85% of parity or higher. In 1942, the minimum rate was
increased to 90% of parity and was required to be continued for 2 years after the end of World
War II. The “Steagall commodities” included hogs, eggs, chickens (with certain exceptions),
turkeys, milk, butterfat, certain dry peas, certain dry edible beans, soybeans, flaxseed and
peanuts for oil, American-Egyptian (ELS) cotton, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
Step 2 payments — Four special provisions are included as an adjunct to the upland cotton
marketing assistance loan program, with the objective of keeping U.S. cotton competitive
in domestic and export markets. The provisions are (1) USDA discretionary authority to
reduce the adjusted world price under certain circumstances; (2) a user marketing
certificate program (commonly known as “Step 2" of the four provisions); (3) a special
import quota, and (4) a limited global import quota. Under Step 2, USDA is required to issue
marketing certificates (or cash payments in lieu of certificates) to domestic users of upland
cotton for documented purchases of such cotton, and to exporters of upland cotton for
documented sales, that occurred in any week that follows a consecutive 4-week period during
which certain cotton pricing benchmarks are exceeded. These benchmarks are determined by
a specific (and complex) statutory formula. In effect, they provide a subsidy to U.S. cotton
users and exporters so that U.S. rather than foreign cotton will be utilized, even when it is
Stewardship Incentives Program (SIP) — A program administered by the Forest
Service through the Farm Service Agency that provides up to 75% cost sharing for
practices implementing approved renewable resource plans. Payments are limited to
$10,000 annually per landowner, and practices must be maintained for 10 years. Through
FY1993, practices had been implemented on more than 670,000 acres by more than 7,000
Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act — P.L. 100-77 (July 22, 1987).
Enacted in response to concerns about increasing hunger, homelessness, and unemployment,
this Act provided federal funding to support housing, food assistance, and job training.
Stocker cattle — Calves or older animals maintained, often on pasture or rangeland, to
increase weight and maturity before being placed in a feedlot.
Stocking rate — The number of specific kinds and classes of livestock grazing or using a
unit of land for a specified time. Not the same as carrying capacity.
Stocks, grain — Commercial grain stocks include domestic grain in storage in public and
private elevators at important markets and grain afloat in vessels or barges in lake and
seaboard ports. Commercial stocks plus government-owned stocks constitute total stocks.
Information on grain stock levels is half of the supply demand equation that determines price
S.T.O.P. — Safe Tables Our Priority
Strategic grain reserve — National grain stocks held in reserve intentionally by government
programs for the purpose of meeting future domestic and international needs. See Food
Security Commodity Reserve, Food Security Wheat Reserve, Farmer-Owned
Strike price (exercise or contract price) — The price, specified in the option contract,
at which the underlying futures contract or commodity will move from seller to buyer.
Stripcropping — Growing crops in a systematic arrangement of strips or bands, usually
parallel to the land’s contour, that serve as barriers to wind and water erosion.
Strip tillage — Planting and tillage operations that are limited to a strip not to exceed onethird of the distance between rows; the area between is left untilled with a protective cover of
crop residue on the surface for erosion control.
Structure of agriculture — The set of characteristics dealing with how the farm sector is
organized, who controls it, and where it is heading.
Stubble-mulching — Leaving the stubble or crop residue essentially in place on the land as
a surface cover during a fallow period. Stubble-mulching can prevent erosion from wind or
water and conserve soil moisture.
Stumpage price (or stumpage rate) — The agreed-upon price, usually in dollars per
thousand board feet (MBF), between a private timber purchaser and the federal agency for
the right to cut and remove trees and/or logs from the federal lands.
Subsidy — A direct or indirect benefit granted by a government for the production or
distribution (including export) of a good or to supplement other services. Generally, subsidies
are thought to be production and trade distorting, resulting in an inefficient use of resources.
Arguably, subsidies may be justified on grounds that they adjust for nonmarket considerations
that are as important as market values. This term also is used to refer to federal
reimbursements for meals served through child and elderly nutrition programs.
Subsistence farm — A low-income farm where the operator is producing primarily for the
family’s needs rather than for sale.
Sugar price support program — The federal program that maintains a minimum price for
sugar. The new program covers the 1996-2002 crops of sugarbeets and sugarcane. Under the
FAIR Act of 1996, sugar processors benefit from a price guarantee only when nonrecourse
loan policy is in effect (i.e., USDA projects that fiscal year imports of sugar will be equal to
or greater than 1.5 million short tons). Should projected imports be below 1.5 million, only
recourse loans will be available to processors (i.e., no price guarantee exists). Loan rates
are frozen through FY2003 at 18 cents/lb. for raw cane sugar, and 22.9 cents/lb. for refined
beet sugar. Processors benefit, though, from a slightly higher level of price support
accomplished by USDA administering an import quota in such a way that market prices are
kept above loan forfeiture levels. Should a processor forfeit on a nonrecourse loan if market
prices fall below his forfeiture level, a forfeiture penalty is imposed (i.e., 1 cent/lb. for raw
cane sugar, 1.072 cents/lb. for beet sugar). Should this occur, the price guarantee level would
be lower than a processor received in the past. The FAIR Act of 1996 repealed both the
program’s no cost requirement (in effect since FY1986) and standby authority (in effect
during FY1992-1996) to impose marketing allotments under certain conditions.
Sugar re-export programs — Administered by USDA, program regulations allow cane
refiners and food manufacturers, subject to certain conditions, to import sugar exempt from
tariff-rate quota provisions that apply to sugar imported for consumption in the U.S.
market. Cane refiners process the imported sugar into refined sugar for re-export, or for
transfer to food manufacturers for use in sugar containing products for export. These
programs were designed in the early 1980s to utilize excess cane refining capacity and to make
U.S. refined sugar and sugar-containing products more competitive on the world market by
allowing participating companies to have access to lower world-priced sugar.
Suitable timberland — Timberland from which timber cutting is proposed in forest
Summer fallow — Cropland in semi-arid regions that is purposely kept out of production
during a cropping season mainly to conserve moisture for the next season. It is common for
wheat producers in semi-arid regions to rotate half their cropland to summer fallow each year.
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) — The SFSP operates in low-income areas
during the summer months to provide meals and snacks to children in summer day camps.
Federal support consists of guaranteed cash and commodity assistance and support for
administration and operating expenses. It is authorized through FY1998 under the National
School Lunch Act.
Sunflower Oil Assistance Program (SOAP) — Along with the Cottonseed Oil
Assistance Program (COAP), SOAP is one of two programs under which bonuses were
awarded to exporters of U.S. vegetable oil to assist in exports to targeted markets. The SOAP
was authorized beginning in fiscal year 1988 with funds made available under Section 32 of
the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935. The provision in the Disaster Assistance
Act of 1988, which had authorized the SOAP, expired at the end of fiscal year 1995 and was
not extended in the FAIR Act of 1996. However, the Agriculture Appropriations Act of
1996 provided authority to operate the program in fiscal year 1996.
Superfund — The hazardous substance cleanup program created by the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA, P.L. 99-499,
December 11, 1980), as amended.
Supplement — For child nutrition programs, this refers to federally reimbursed snacks that
are served to children in participating facilities. Also used to refer to the addition of nutrients
in the diet by the use of vitamins.
Supply control programs — Any of several government programs to influence the supply
of farm products on the market. Some, such as acreage allotments and marketing
quotas, are considered mandatory, in that farmers who produce or market in excess of
assigned levels can be legally penalized. Others, such as cropland set-asides, acreage
reductions and diversions, and farmer-held grain reserves, are considered voluntary, in that
farmers are usually encouraged to participate through financial incentives.
Support price — A legislated minimum price for a particular commodity, maintained by
USDA through a variety of mechanisms, such as nonrecourse loans and purchase programs.
Surface runoff — Precipitation, snow melt, or irrigation water in excess of what can
infiltrate the soil surface and be stored in small surface depressions; a major cause of
erosion and transporter of nonpoint source pollutants.
Surplus — The amount by which available supplies are greater than the quantity that will
bring producers an adequate income. A surplus may be due to production outrunning demand,
a decline in consumption, or a general decline in consumer income or buying power.
Historically, USDA commodity programs have been designed to deal with “problems” of
surplus, and the Secretary has had discretion to determine whether an item is in surplus and
should be removed from market channels to shore up prices. Approaches have included
cropland diversion to reduce production, long-term storage of excess supplies, and purchase
and donation of surplus items for foreign or domestic food program use.
Suspension — A process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide
Act by which EPA can suspend the use of a pesticide in order to prevent an imminent hazard
resulting from its continued use. An emergency suspension takes effect immediately; under an
ordinary suspension a registrant can request a hearing before the suspension goes into effect.
Such a hearing process might take 6 months.
Sustainable agriculture — A systematic approach to agriculture that focuses on ensuring
the long-term productivity of human and natural resources for meeting food and fiber needs.
The FACT Act of 1990 defines sustainable agriculture as “an integrated system of plant and
animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term (A)
satisfy human food and fiber needs; (B) enhance environmental quality and the natural resource
base upon which the agricultural economy depends; (C) make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological
cycles and controls, (D) sustain the economic viability of farm operations, and (E) enhance the
quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.” Sustainable agriculture and alternative
agriculture share overall goals, with the latter focusing attention more on nonconventional
practices. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program in USDA,
first authorized by the Food Security Act of 1985 and originally called the Low-Input
Sustainable Agriculture (LISA) program, provides assistance to farmers interested in
sustainable practices such as less chemical-intensive methods of pest control and soil fertility.
Grants are available to farmer-scientist teams for on-farm experiments. The program also
trains Cooperative Extension personnel in sustainable practices in order to encourage more
Sustained yield — A “high-level” output of renewable resources that does not impair the
productivity of the land.
Swampbuster — A provision of the Food Security Act of 1985 that discourages the
conversion of wetlands to cropland use. Producers converting a wetland area to cropland lose
eligibility for several federal farm program benefits. Benefits are lost from when water
levels are lowered to facilitate agricultural production until they have been restored. Several
types of wetlands and wetlands in specified situations are exempt. Exceptions include
conversions that began before December 23, 1985, conversions of wetlands that had been
created artificially, crop production on wetlands that became dry through drought, and
conversions that USDA has determined have minimal effect on wetland values. Swampbuster
provisions were amended in the FAIR Act of 1996 to provide greater flexibility for producers
SWCD — Soil and Water Conservation District
SWCS — Soil and Water Conservation Society
SWDA — Solid Waste Disposal Act
Sweet potato whitefly — an insect pest of cotton, fruit and vegetable, and greenhouse
crops. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service works cooperatively with
producers to implement pest management strategies based on integrated pest management
and biological control techniques.
T-value (or T-level) — For a specific soil, the maximum average annual soil loss expressed
as tons per acre per year that will permit current production levels to be maintained
economically and indefinitely, the soil loss tolerance level. T values range from 2 to 5 tons
per acre per year. According to the 1992 national resources inventory, about 63 million
acres of highly erodible cropland are still eroding at more than their “T” value, including 21
million acres that are still eroding at three times “T”.
TA — Technical assistance
Taking endangered or threatened species — “Taking,” in layman’s terms, means killing
or removing a plant or animal of a species listed under the Endangered Species Act
(ESA), or seriously damaging its chances of reproduction. Except under specified
circumstances, taking is forbidden under the ESA. The definition of taking is one of the current
issues in the ESA debate. Incidental take of a listed species is a taking which occurs in the
course of some other legal activity, whether carried out by a federal or a nonfederal entity.
Talmadge-Aiken plants — The approximately 250 meat and poultry plants in 10 states
where USDA has contracted with state agency inspectors to conduct federal inspection
activities. They are now formally known as Federal-State Cooperative Inspection Plants. Even
though state employees are conducting the inspection in these plants, they are under the federal
rather than state inspection programs.
Target price — Price levels established by past law for wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley,
oats, rice, and upland cotton. Prior to 1996, farmers participating in annual federal
commodity programs received deficiency payments based on the difference between the
target price and the higher of the national market price during a specified time period, or the
nonrecourse loan rate. The FAIR Act of 1996 eliminated target prices and replaced
deficiency payments with fixed production flexibility contract payments through 2002.
Targeted Export Assistance Program (TEA) — A program authorized by the Food
Security Act of 1985 to assist U.S. producer groups in promoting exports of products
adversely affected by foreign governments’ unfair trade practices. TEA is the predecessor of
the Market Promotion Program (MPP), which has been replaced by the Market Access
Targeting — A policy concept under which government farm program benefits would be
directed toward specified groups of producers. One example of targeting might be to focus
farm payments on small to medium-sized family owned and operated farms.
Tariff — A tariff is a list or schedule of taxes, while a duty is the tax imposed on a specific
item. However, the terms duty and tariff have come to be used interchangeably. In
international trade, these taxes must be paid to a government on selected imported or sometimes
exported goods. The Harmonized Tariff Schedules of the United States (HTSUS)
lists the items on which the United States levies duties. Tariffs may be protective of domestic
producers (keeping domestic prices higher than world prices) or serve as revenue
generators for the government. Tariffs are considered transparent trade barriers in contrast to
several nontariff barriers. The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture requires
conversion of nontariff barriers to bound tariffs.
Tariff Act of 1930 — P.L. 71-361, also known as the Smoot-Hawley Act, is widely
recognized as one of the most ill-conceived of the many tariff laws passed by Congress. This
protectionist law raised U.S. import tariffs to their highest levels in history, prompting U.S.
trading partners to adopt their own retaliatory trade barriers and exacerbating the Great
Depression. Ensuing U.S. policies have virtually eliminated the Act’s most onerous provisions,
but some elements of the amended law still serve as the authorizing vehicle for a number of
general trade provisions of importance to the agricultural sector, including countervailing
duties, antidumping duties, and country-of-origin labeling.
Tariff rate quota — A trade policy tool used to protect a domestically-produced commodity
or product from competitive imports. A tariff rate quota (TRQ) combines two policy
instruments that nations historically have used to restrict such imports: quotas and tariffs.
In a TRQ, the quota component works together with a specified tariff level to provide the
desired degree of import protection. Imports entering during a specific time period under the
quota portion of a TRQ are usually subject to a lower, or sometimes a zero, tariff rate. Imports
above the quota’s quantitative threshold face a much higher (usually prohibitive) tariff.
Currently, TRQs apply to imports of certain dairy products, beef, cotton, peanuts, sugar,
certain sugar-containing products, and tobacco.
Tariff schedule — A list or schedule of duties imposed in the conduct of international trade.
The Harmonized Tariff Schedules of the United States (HTSUS) lists the items on
which the United States levies a duty (or tariff) or imposes an import or tariff rate quota.
A specific duty, and/or quota amount, is assigned to each item on the schedule.
Tariffication — The conversion of nontariff barriers to tariffs or tariff-rate quotas.
Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 (TGA) — P.L. 73-482 (June 28, 1934) provides for the
regulation of grazing on the public lands (excluding Alaska) to improve rangeland conditions
and stabilize the western livestock industry. The law initially permitted 80 million acres of
previously unreserved public lands of the United States to be placed into grazing districts to
be administered by the Department of the Interior. As amended, the law now sets no limit on
the amount of lands in grazing districts. There are currently approximately 150 million acres
in grazing districts.
TCDD — Dioxin (Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin)
TCK smut — Tilletia controversa kuhn is a wheat fungus present in the Pacific Northwest.
It takes on policy significance because China applies a zero tolerance on TCK spores
resulting in a ban since 1974 on shipments from the Pacific Northwest. Until the summer of
1996, China accepted shipments of U.S. wheat from the Gulf coast, even if they contained
traces of TCK and negotiated price discounts with the shippers to cover the cost of
decontamination before the affected wheat was unloaded. But in June 1996, China rejected
cargoes of U.S. wheat with traces of TCK. China and the United States since have exchanged
scientific teams as part of an effort to resolve the problem.
TEA — Targeted Export Assistance Program
Team nutrition — Coordinated effort by the FCS to implement the school meals
initiative for healthy children.
TEFAP — The Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) evolved
out of a surplus commodity donation effort begun by the USDA in late 1981 to dispose of
surplus foods (especially cheese) held by the Commodity Credit Corporation. This
program was explicitly authorized by the Congress in 1983 when funding was provided to
assist states with the costs involved in storing and distributing the commodities. The program
originally was entitled the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program when authorized
under the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983. The word,
“temporary" was dropped from statute and program title in the FACT Act of 1990. The
acronym EFAP now is used for this program.
Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983 (TEFAA) — P.L. 98-8 (March
24, 1983) was a supplemental appropriations act for FY1983 that among other things explicitly
authorized a discretionary commodity donation effort begun in 1981 by the USDA. The initial
effort was limited to disposal of excess commodities held by the Commodity Credit
Corporation by donating them to states. This law also authorized funding to help states and
local emergency feeding organizations with the storage and distribution costs of handling the
commodities. This is the origin of the current Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983
(P.L. 98-92) as amended.
Tender — As a verb, tender announces the intention of delivering a notice or an actual
commodity; i.e., XYZ Grain Growers, Inc., tenders six cars to North Pacific at the time of
shipment for application on an open sales contract”. As a noun, tender normally denotes a
notice of an intent to buy. The tender usually spells out in detail quantities to be purchased,
desired quality, time of shipment, country of origin, and all inspection, weighing, and payment
terms. Overseas buyers usually issue tenders to ensure the maximum competition for a given
piece of business. Also, the action of receiving offers, determining the best one, deciding
whether, and how much, to buy, and announcing the awards of contracts. Ordinarily, a buyer
reserves the right to reject any or all of the offers submitted.
Teratogen — A chemical that causes nonhereditary birth defects in a developing fetus.
Teratogencity is taken into account in assessing the toxicity of pesticides and other chemicals.
Both level and timing of exposure to teratogens determine health effects.
Terminal elevator — Large elevator (warehouse) facility with the capacity to transfer grain
to rail cars, barges, or ships for transport to domestic or foreign markets.
Terminal market — A central site, often in a metropolitan area, that serves as an assembly
and trading place for agricultural commodities. Terminal markets are usually at or near major
Terrace — An embankment, ridge, or leveled strip constructed across sloping soils on the
contour or at a right angle to the contour. The terrace intercepts surface runoff so that it can
soak into the soil or flow slowly to a prepared outlet, decreasing rates of soil erosion.
TFP — Thrifty Food Plan
Threatened species — Species listed by regulation under ESA, and are generally given a
lower level of protection than endangered species.
Three entity rule — Federal law currently sets an annual cap on the amount of direct
payments that a person may receive from major farm programs. A provision in this law
permits a person to receive payments up to the full cap on the first farm in which the person
has a substantial beneficial interest, and up to half the full cap on each of two additional farms;
hence the so-called “three-entity rule.”
Threshold — The lowest non-zero dose of a chemical at which a specified measurable effect
occurs. Sometimes used to refer to the income level above which an applicant for food stamp
benefits would be ineligible.
Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) — The TFP is one of four food plans specifying foods and
amounts of foods and designed by USDA to provide adequate nutrition. It is used as the basis
for designing food stamp program benefits. It is the cheapest food plan and is priced monthly
using the price data collected for the consumer price index (CPI). However, it is not the
same as the food components of the CPI. The monthly cost of the TFP used for the food
stamp program represents a national average of prices (four-person household consisting
of an adult couple and two school-age children) adjusted for other household sizes through the
use of a formula reflecting economies of scale. For food stamp purposes, the TFP as priced
each June sets maximum benefit levels for the fiscal year beginning the following October.
Timberland — Lands that can grow annually a minimum amount of wood that can be used
to produce commercial wood products; excludes lands where timber cutting is prohibited by
law or by executive decision.
Timber sale — a contract for the sale of federal timber to a private purchaser with the right
to cut and remove trees for an agreed-upon stumpage price; the contract includes an
estimated volume of wood and an appraised stumpage price, which is the basis for
competitive bidding by purchasers.
Tobacco Price Support Program — The tobacco price support program uses a
combination of marketing quotas and nonrecourse loans to keep prices stable and higher
than they would be otherwise. The marketing quotas limit production in order to raise prices.
Nonrecourse loans allow producers to hold tobacco stocks for long periods in order to balance
supplies with market demand conditions. By law since 1982, tobacco loan program operations
are required to function at no net cost to taxpayers. A no net cost assessment is collected
on all leaf tobacco sold to build a reserve fund that reimburses the Commodity Credit
Corporation for any losses of loan principal and interest.
Tolerance, pesticide residue — The amount of pesticide residue allowed by law to
remain in or on a food sold in interstate commerce. Whenever a pesticide is registered for
use on a food or a feed crop, a tolerance (or exemption from the tolerance requirement) must
be established. EPA establishes the tolerance levels, which are enforced by the Food and
Drug Administration and USDA.
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) — P.L. 94-469 (October 11, 1976) authorizes
EPA to regulate toxic substances (any chemical that may present a risk of unreasonable harm
to man or the environment). By definition, however, the Act excludes from EPA regulation
under TSCA certain substances, including pesticides (as defined by and regulated under the
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act), tobacco or tobacco products,
and any food or food additive (as defined by and regulated under the Poultry Products
Inspection Act, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Egg Products Inspection Act,
or the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).
TPRG — Trade Policy Review Group
Traceback — See animal identification and traceback.
Trade Act of 1974 — P.L. 93-618 provided the President with tariff and nontariff trade
barrier negotiating authority for the Tokyo Round of multilateral trade negotiations. It also
gave the President broad authority to counteract injurious and unfair foreign trade practices.
Section 201 of the Act requires the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate
petitions filed by domestic industries or workers claiming injury or threat of injury due to
expanding imports. Investigations must be completed within 6 months. If such injury is found,
restrictive measures may be implemented. Action under Section 201 is allowed under the
GATT escape clause, GATT Article XIX. Section 301 was designed to eliminate unfair
foreign trade practices that adversely affect U.S. trade and investment in both goods and
services. Under Section 301, the President must determine whether the alleged practices are
unjustifiable, unreasonable, or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce. If the
President determines that action is necessary, the law directs that all appropriate and feasible
action within the President’s power should be taken to secure the elimination of the practice.
Trade Adjustment Assistance — Assistance provided by the Departments of Labor and
Commerce to workers and firms that are adversely affected by increased imports. The Labor
Department administers a program offering certified workers monetary benefits for direct trade
readjustment allowances and service benefits that include allocations for job search, relocation,
and training. The Department of Commerce sponsors programs that provide technical services
to certified firms designed to restore the economic viability of U.S. industries adversely affected
by international import competition. This assistance is authorized by subchapter II of the
Trade Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-618, approved January 3, 1975). The Act has been amended
several times, including 1993 when transitional assistance was approved for workers affected
by increased imports from Canada or Mexico or by shifts of U.S. production to those countries
as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The law expires
on September 30, 1998.
Trade Agreements Act of 1979 — P.L. 96-39 (July 26, 1979) provided the implementing
legislation for the Tokyo Round of multilateral trade agreements in such areas as customs
valuation, standards, subsidies and government procurement.
Trade and Tariff Act of 1984 — P.L. 98-573 (October 30, 1984) clarified the conditions
under which unfair trade cases under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 can be pursued.
It also provided bilateral trade negotiating authority for the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement
and the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, and set out procedures to be followed for
congressional approval of future bilateral free trade agreements.
Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) — The name of a number of
degenerative brain diseases that infect humans and animals. For example, bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) infects cattle; Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD)
Transshipment — Refers to the primary export of U.S. farm products to certain countries
(notably Canada and the Netherlands) and their further shipment to other countries. Unless
there is “adjustment for transshipment,” export statistics can reflect a distorted picture.
Tree measurement sales — A timber sale where purchasers pay the total bid value (the
estimated timber volume times the stumpage price) regardless of the volume of timber
Trickle irrigation / drip irrigation — Method in which water drips to the soil from
perforated tubes or emitters. This irrigation technology is water conserving compared to
flooding, furrows, and sprinklers.
Triple base plan — Also called the flexible base plan. A proposal under which farmers who
raise program crops would receive program payments only on a certain percentage of their
permitted acreage. A producer participating in a federal price support program actually
would have three categories of base acres for program purposes: 1) permitted acres on which
deficiency payments would be made; 2) permitted acres on which no federal payments
would be made, but could be planted to other crops, either specified or unspecified; 3) idled
acres (those required to be set aside under acreage reduction rules) where no crops other than
those for conservation could be planted. Triple base is another name for what came to be
known as normal flex acres. Production flexibility contracts now have eliminated the
linkage between payments and actual plantings.
TRQ — Tariff-rate quota
TSCA — Toxic Substances Control Act
TSEs — Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies
Two-tiered pricing — Any farm program system under which commodities grown for
domestic use are supported at one level and those grown for export markets at another, lower
level. The peanut price support program uses a two-tiered pricing system.
U.S. International Trade Commission(USITC) — An independent, quasi-judicial
federal agency that provides objective trade expertise to both the legislative and executive
branches of government, determines the impact of imports on U.S. industries. It make
recommendations concerning countervailing duty and antidumping petitions submitted
by U.S. industries seeking relief from imports that benefit from unfair trade practices. The
agency also updates and publishes the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United
States. Established by Congress in 1916 as the U.S. Tariff Commission, the Trade Act of
1974 changed its name to the U.S. International Trade Commission. http://www.usitc.gov/
U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) — See United States Trade Representative.
UEP — United Egg Producers
UFFVA — United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association
UIC — Underground injection control
UMR — Usual market requirements
UNCTAD — United Nations Commission on Trade and Development
Underground storage tank — For purposes of Subtitle I of the Resource Conservation
and Recovery Act, this is any tank used to store petroleum or hazardous substances
regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and
Liability Act, the volume of which is 10% or more beneath the surface of the ground. This
does not include, among other things, any farm or residential tank of 1,100 gallons or less
capacity used for storing motor fuel for noncommercial purposes, tanks used for storing
heating oil for consumptive use on the premises, or septic tanks.
Uniform grain and rice storage agreement (USGRSA) — The contractual
arrangement governing transactions between Farm Service Agency and private grain storage
companies. Commercial warehouses storing grain under a nonrecourse loan or owned by the
CCC must have a signed USGRSA.
Unique farmland — Land, other than prime farmland, that has combined conditions to
produce sustained high quality and high yields of specialty crops, such as citrus, nuts, fruits,
and vegetables when properly managed.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) — A UN
agency that focuses attention on international economic relations and on measures that might
be taken by developed countries to accelerate economic development in developing countries.
United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act of 1988 — P.L.
100-449 (September 28, 1988) implemented the bilateral trade agreement between the United
States and Canada, including agricultural trade. The agreement would phase out tariffs
between the two countries over 10 years and revise other trade rules.
United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA) of 1916 — P.L. 64-190 (August 11,
1916), as amended, authorizes the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards
Administration to establish official marketing standards (not health and safety standards)
for grains and oilseeds, and requires that exported grains and oilseeds be officially weighed and
inspected. Domestically marketed grain and oilseeds may be, but is not required to be,
officially inspected. Export inspections are carried out by federal inspectors or by federally
supervised state inspection agencies, called delegated official inspection agencies. Official
inspections of domestically traded grain is done by federally supervised state agencies and
private companies, called designated official inspection agencies. Typically, marketing
standards describe the physical characteristics (such as weight, damaged kernels, foreign
material, shrunken and broken kernels, and defects) of the commodity and serve as contract
language to facilitate marketing. Official weighing and inspection is paid for on a fee-forservice basis, not with federal funds. Major changes to the law were adopted in the USGSA
Amendments of 1968,
the USGSA of 1976 (P.L. 94-582), and the Grain Quality Improvement Act of 1986
United States Trade Representative (USTR) — The Office of the U.S. Trade
Representative, originally Office of the Special Trade Representative (STR), is responsible for
developing and coordinating international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and
leading or directing negotiations with other countries. It is headed by the United States Trade
Representative (also USTR), a Cabinet-level official with the rank of Ambassador. The agency
provides trade policy leadership and negotiating expertise on all matters within the World
Trade Organization (WTO); trade, commodity, and direct investment matters dealt with
by international institutions such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
(UNCTAD); export expansion policy; industrial and services trade policy; international
commodity agreements and policy; bilateral and multilateral trade and investment issues;
trade-related intellectual property protection issues; and import policy. The agency has
administrative responsibility for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), Section
301 complaints against foreign unfair trade practices, unlawful and unfair import competition
under Section 337, and import relief cases under Section 201. Five Members from each of
the House and Senate are formally appointed under statute as official Congressional advisors
on trade policy, and additional Members may be appointed as advisors on particular issues or
Universal soil loss equation — A formula used to estimate erosion rates by considering
climate, soils, and topographic conditions at a site, as well as any degree to which the use and
management of the soil reduce erosion. It is being replaced by a revised universal soil loss
Unreasonable risk — Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide
Act (FIFRA), “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment means (1) any unreasonable
risk to man or the environment, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental
costs and benefits of any pesticide, or (2) a human dietary risk from residues that result from
a use of a pesticide in or on any food ...” in excess of that allowed by a tolerance.
Upland cotton — The predominant variety of cotton grown in the United States; upland
cotton has long been eligible for government price support and is now eligible for
production flexibility contract payments.
Uplands — Land at higher elevations than the alluvial plain or low stream terrace; all lands
outside the riparian-wetland and aquatic zones. Used often in discussion of federal land
UR — Uruguay Round
Urban and built-up areas — A classification in the natural resources inventory, now
called developed areas, that includes cities, villages, other build-up areas of more than 10 acres,
industrial sites, railroad yards, cemeteries, airports, golf courses, shooting ranges, institutional
and public administration sites, and similar areas. The 1992 national resources inventory
placed over 92 million acres in this category, an increase of 14 million acres since 1982.
Uruguay Round — The 8th round of multilateral trade negotiations (MTN)
conducted within the framework of the GATT. Launched in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in 1986
and concluded in December 1993, the final Uruguay Round agreement signed in Marrakech
in April 1994, embraces 110 participating countries (“contracting parties”) and came into
effect in 1995. It is being implemented over the period to 2000 (2004 in the case of developing
country contracting parties) under the administrative direction of the newly created World
Trade Organization (WTO). The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture,
administered by the World Trade Organization, brings agricultural trade more fully under the
GATT. It provides for converting quantitative restrictions to tariffs and for a phased reduction
of tariffs. The agreement also imposes rules and disciplines on agricultural export subsidies,
domestic subsidies, and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures.
Uruguay Round Agreements (URA) Act of 1994 — P.L. 103-465 (December 8, 1994)
approved and implemented the trade agreements concluded in the Uruguay Round of
multilateral trade negotiations conducted under the auspices of the GATT, including the
Agreement on Agriculture, the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS)
Measures, and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). The law allowed for the
reduction of tariffs and government subsidies on agricultural products and prohibits the use
of Section 22 fees and quotas with respect to products of WTO members. The law also
extended the authorization of funding for the Export Enhancement Program (EEP) and
Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP) through 2001 and eliminated the requirement
that the EEP be targeted to respond to unfair trade practices. The law eliminated the
requirement that the Market Promotion Program be used to counter the adverse effects
of unfair trade practices. The law also included a Sense-of-Congress resolution that the
President should consult with other nations to discuss appropriate levels of food aid
commitments to developing countries.
USAHA — U.S. Animal Health Association
USAID — U.S. Agency for International Development
USC — U.S. Code
USDA — U.S. Department of Agriculture
User fees — Any of various charges and assessments levied on a specifically delineated group
that is directly subject to a particular government service, program, or activity; such fees are
not levied on the general public. User fees are intended to be used solely to support that
service, program, or activity. For example, about 75% of the $225 million budget of the
Agricultural Marketing Service, which provides a variety of inspection and grading,
market news reporting, and other services to the agricultural community, comes from user fees;
the other 25% is appropriated funds. Similarly, grain inspection is paid for through user fees.
User marketing certificates — See step 2 payments.
USMEF — U.S. Meat Export Federation
USTR — United States Trade Representative
Usual market requirements (UMR) — A measure of the import requirement of a country
met through commercial purchases; usually defined as a five-year average. The UMR is used
to determine whether concessional sales (e.g., under Title I of P.L. 480) will adversely affect
normal commercial agricultural trade.
Utilization rates — The percentage of milk in federal milk marketing orders that is used
in each of the classes: Class III and IIIa, cheese, butter, and nonfat dry milk; Class II, all other
manufactured products; Class I, milk used for fluid consumption.
UV — Ultraviolet
Value-added products — In general, products that have increased in value because of
processing; such products include wheat flour, and soybean oil. Livestock are considered value
added products because they have increased the value of pasture and feed grains going into
them. The terms value-added and high-value are often used synonymously.
Value-based pricing — Packers are increasingly using this method of determining how
much to pay cattle and hog producers for animals. Rather than simply paying a fixed rate
based on the weight of the animals, value-based pricing attempts to establish the individual
merits of each animal (or lot) purchased, building quality characteristics such as yield, fat
thickness, likely grade (such as choice, select, etc.) into a formula to arrive at the price that
will be paid. Under this system, the producer assumes the financial responsibility that the
animals, once slaughtered, will meet these criteria. In traditional pricing methods, it is the
packer that bears the greater financial risks associated with the uncertain quality of the animals
Variable import levy — A charge levied on imports that raises their price to a level at least
as high as the domestic price. Such levies are adjusted frequently (hence “variable”) in
response to changes in world market prices, and are imposed to defend administered prices set
above world market prices. Under the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, the
variable levies of the EU have been converted into fixed tariffs or tariff-rate quotas.
VAT — Value-added tax
Vegetative controls — Nonpoint source pollution control practices that involve planting
cover crops to reduce erosion and minimize loss of pollutants.
VER — Voluntary export restraint agreement
Vertical integration — The integrating of successive stages of the production and marketing
functions under the ownership or control of a single management organization. For example,
much of the broiler industry is highly vertically integrated in that processing companies own
or control the activities from production and hatching of eggs, through the growth and feeding
of the chickens, to slaughter, processing, and wholesale marketing.
VFD — Veterinary Feed Directive
Visegrad countries — The countries that entered into an agreement to coordinate their
policies with a view to apply for membership in the EU. The countries in the original Visegrad
agreement were Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia (now the Czech and Slovak Republics).
VOC — Volatile organic compounds
Voluntary export restraint arrangement (VER) — An arrangement, usually a
negotiated bilateral agreement, between countries in which suppliers or their government in an
exporting country agree to limit to predetermined levels their exports of a particular product
to an importing country. Under the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, VERs are
to be converted into fixed tariffs or tariff-rate quotas.
WAOB — World Agricultural Outlook Board
Warehouse receipt — A document certifying possession of a commodity in a licensed
warehouse. Some warehouse receipts are recognized for delivery purposes by a commodity
Wash versus trim — See zero tolerance.
Waste treatment pond — A shallow lagoon or similar storage facility, often man-made,
used to treat liquid agricultural wastes, particularly liquid manure from livestock production
farms, through the interaction of sunlight, wind, algae, and oxygen. Through natural biological
processes, microscopic organisms consume wastes present in the water.
Water 2000 Initiative — The program administered by the Rural Utility Service goal is to
improve the quality of drinking water in distressed rural areas with the most serious safe
drinking water problems.
Water Bank Program (WBP) — A program to set aside wetlands for a period of 10 years
(renewable) for conservation purposes. Participants receive annual rental payments. As these
contracts expire, participants are offered the opportunity to place the land in the Wetland
Water Quality Incentives Program — This program was authorized in the FACT Act
of 1990 and is administered by the Farm Service Agency. It was repealed and replaced by
the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in the FAIR Act of 1996. It provided
cost-share assistance to implement comprehensive water quality protection plans and was
funded by earmarking a portion of the Agricultural Conservation Program.
Water Quality Initiative — A multi-agency effort, initiated by USDA in 1990, to
determine relationships between agricultural activities and water quality, and develop and
implement strategies that protect surface and groundwater quality. This program, which builds
earlier USDA water quality protection efforts, includes research activities, projects involving
landowners, and information and data development. Landowners participate in demonstration
projects, hydrologic unit area projects, water quality special projects, and water quality
Water quality standards — State-adopted and EPA-approved ambient standards for water
bodies. The standards prescribe the use of the water body and establish the water quality
criteria that must be met to protect designated uses, and contain policies to protect against
degradation of water quality once standards are attained and maintained.
Water service contract — a type of contract, authorized by the Reclamation Project
Act of 1939, whereby water is furnished for irrigation or municipal or miscellaneous purposes
at rates to produce revenue sufficient to cover charges reimbursable to the federal government.
Waterfowl production areas — A small component of the National Wildlife Refuge
System. There are over 2,000,000 acres of this prime duck-producing land, mostly prairie
potholes in the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Montana. The Fish and Wildlife Service owns,
leases, or holds easements on the lands.
Watershed — The total land area, regardless of size, above a given point on a waterway that
contributes runoff water to the flow at that point. It is a major subdivision of a drainage basin.
The United States is generally divided into 18 major drainage areas and 160 principal river
drainage basins containing about 12,700 smaller watersheds.
Watershed and flood prevention operations — A program area of the Natural
Resources Conservation Service that includes Flood Prevention Operations (under the Flood
Control Act of 1944, P.L. 78-534), Emergency Watershed Protection, and Small Watershed
Operations (under the Watershed and Flood Prevention Act of 1954, P.L. 83-566).
These programs have built small watershed projects that reduce floods, protect watersheds,
improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, improve water supply, and provide recreation.
They involve strong partnerships with local interests.
Wellhead protection area — A surface and subsurface land area regulated to prevent
contamination of a well or wellfield supplying a public water system. This program,
established under the Safe Drinking Water Act, is implemented through state governments.
WEQ — Wind erosion equation
Wetlands — Areas of predominantly hydric soils that can support a prevalence of waterloving plants, know as hydrophitic vegetation. Wetlands are transitional between
terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the
land is covered by shallow water. Types of wetlands are distinguished by water patterns (the
frequency and length of flooding) and location in relation to upland areas and water bodies.
Wetlands perform many functions including wildlife and fish habitat, storage and conveyance
of flood waters, sediment and pollution control, and recreation. Under the swampbuster
program, landowners may produce crops in these areas, but only if the water patterns, or
hydrology, in the wetland area is not altered and any woody vegetation is not removed.
Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) — A program authorized by FACT Act of 1990
to provide long-term protection for wetlands. Producers enrolling in the program must agree
to implement an approved wetlands restoration and protection plan. In return, participating
producers receive payments based on the difference in the value of their land caused by placing
an easement on a portion of it. The FAIR Act of 1996 limits enrollment of the WRP to
975,000 acres. USDA is required to divide new enrollments among permanent easements, 30year easements, and restoration cost-share agreements. Previously, all enrollment had been
Wet-milling — A process in which feed material is steeped in water, with or without sulphur
dioxide, to soften the seed kernel in order to help separate the kernel’s various components.
For example, wet-milling plants can separate a bushel of corn into more than 31 pounds of
starch (which in turn can be converted into corn sweeteners or ethanol), 15 pounds of animal
feed, and nearly 2 pounds of corn oil.
WFP — United Nations World Food Program
WFPO — Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations
WGA — Western Growers Association
WHIP — Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program
WHO — World Health Organization
Whole herd buyout program — Another term for the dairy termination program.
Wholesale price index — A composite index of prices of commodities sold in primary U.S.
markets. “Wholesale” refers to sale in large quantities by producers, not to prices received by
wholesalers, jobbers, or distributors. In agriculture, it is the average price received by farmers
for their farm commodities at the first point of sale when the commodity leaves the farm.
WIC — Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and
WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Act of 1992 — P.L. 102-314 (July 2, 1992)
established a program authorizing projects that provide participants in the Special
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) with food coupons
that can be used to purchase fresh, unprocessed foods, such as fruits and vegetables at farmers’
WIC vendors — Grocery and other stores authorized as eligible to accept WIC coupons or
vouchers and to receive reimbursement from the state WIC program for purchases made with
these food instruments.
WIC vouchers (coupons) — Food instruments commonly issued by WIC agencies to
participants that are used in grocery and other authorized food stores to buy certain quantities
and types of foods listed on the coupon, which are designated by the state as being authorized
for purchase under the WIC program.
Wilderness — An area of federal land, usually 5,000 acres or more, where the impact of man
is largely unnoticeable, and which has been designated as wilderness by Congress.
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program — A program established by the FAIR Act of
1996 to promote voluntary implementation of on-farm management practices to improve
wildlife habitat. Landowner activities under this program implement a state plan. Cost-sharing
will be available with funding authorized at $50 million for fiscal years 1996-2002 from
Conservation Reserve Program funds.
Wildlife Refuges — Units of the National Wildlife Refuge System. They may be
designated under general authorities of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered
Species Act, or (rarely) by specific acts of Congress. There are over 500 refuges, with over
Wind erosion — The detachment and transportation of soil by wind. Wind erosion is a
cropland management concern in the Plains states.
Wind erosion equation — An equation used to design wind erosion control systems, which
considers soil erodibility, soil roughness, climate, the unsheltered distance across a field, and
the vegetative cover on the ground.
Wool Act of 1954 — See National Wool Act of 1954.
Work/training programs, food stamp — Work/training programs have two meanings
in the food stamp program: (1) most able-bodied unemployed or underemployed (less than
30 hours a week) adults not caring for very young children must register for work and, if
assigned, participate in work/training programs that can include a wide variety of activities
such as supervised job search or job search training, a “workfare” program (where they work
off the value of their benefit in public service jobs), work experience program or programs
involving on-the-job training, education programs to improve basic skills; and (2) in order to
maintain eligibility beyond 3 months, able-bodied adult recipients between age 18 and 50 and
without dependents must, if not working at least 20 hours a week, participate in and comply
with a much narrower range of work/training activities, including only workfare programs,
programs under the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) or the Trade Adjustment
Assistance Act, and employment and training programs operated by states and political
subdivisions that meet state-set standards. Work/training activities covered by the first
(broader) definition are often referred to as food stamp program “employment and training”
(“E and T”) programs.
World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) — As part of the Office of the Chief
Economist, the WAOB coordinates the USDA's commodity forecasting program; monitors
global weather and analyzes its impact on agriculture; and coordinates USDA's weather,
climate and remote sensing work. http://www.usda.gov/agency/oce/waob/waob.htm
World Food Program (WFP) — A UN agency that contributes commodities, services, and
cash to developing countries to meet emergency food needs or to carry out economic and social
development projects using food or local currencies generated from the sale of food aid
World price — The price at which commodities will move in international trade under
existing marketing conditions. The concept “world price” lacks precision unless quality,
location, and other factors are specified. See also domestic price.
World Trade Organization (WTO) — The international organization established by the
Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations to oversee implementation of the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the agreements arising from the Uruguay Round,
including the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture.
WPA — Waterfowl production areas
WPS — Worker protection standard
WQIP — Water Quality Incentives Program
WRI — World Resources Institute
WRP — Wetlands Reserve Program
WTO — World Trade Organization
WWF — World Wildlife Fund
Yield — The number of bushels (or pounds or hundredweight) that a farmer harvests per acre.
Under the 1985 farm bill, the farm program payment yield was the farmer’s average yield
for the 1981-1985 crop years, excluding the years when the yields were highest and lowest.
Payment yields have remained frozen at the level fixed in the 1985 farm bill ever since.
Zero, 50/85-92 provisions — Refers to the 50/85 and 50/92 commodity program
provisions for rice and cotton and the 0/85 and 0/92 commodity program provisions for wheat
and feed grains that were in effect in various forms from 1986 through 1995. Under these
provisions farmers could idle all or part of their permitted acreage, putting the land in a
conserving use, and receive deficiency payments as if up to 92% of the permitted
acreage had been planted. A minimum planting requirement of 50% of maximum payment
acreage applied for rice and cotton. Under the FAIR Act of 1996, producers have no
planting requirements but must observe appropriate conservation practices if the land remains
Zero tolerance — In food safety policy, a “zero tolerance” standard generally means that if
a potentially dangerous substance (whether microbiological, chemical, or other) is present in
or on a product, that product will be considered adulterated and unfit for human
consumption. In the meat and poultry inspection program, “zero tolerance” usually refers to
USDA’s rule that permits no visible signs of fecal contamination (feces) on meat and poultry
carcasses. USDA requires that any time such fecal contamination is detected, it must be
removed from the carcass. At issue is how this rule has been applied and enforced by USDA
in meat and poultry plants. For a number of years, poultry producers have been permitted to
either rinse (wash) off or cut (trim) away such contamination, but beef producers have only
been permitted to (trim) it with a knife—which they argue costs them money in lost product
weight and imposes a requirement that poultry producers do not have to meet. The policy
jargon for this debate is “wash versus trim.” USDA early in 1997 clarified its zero tolerance
rule for poultry; a year earlier it gave beef plants permission to use a new high-temperature
vacuuming method to remove fecal contamination in lieu of cutting it off.
Zoonotic diseases — Diseases that under natural conditions are communicable from
animals to humans. Tuberculosis and rabies are examples of zoonotic diseases. Brucellosis
in livestock becomes undulant fever in humans.