ERS U.S. Farm Resource Regions
The U.S. farm sector consists of a highly diverse set of businesses
and farm households committed to living in rural areas and engaging
in farm economic activities. Since the early 1900's, USDA analysts
have sought to identify patterns in U.S. farming that might further
the understanding of differences in financial performance of farms
and the economic well-being of farm households.
USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) constructed regions (called
Farm Resource Regions) that depict geographic specialization in
production of U.S. farm commodities. The ERS
regions are derived from four sources:
U.S. Farm Resource Regions
Data Presented by ERS Farm Resource
Farm Production Regions
Farm Production Regions, in following State boundaries,
necessarily group unlike areas together because a single
State often encompasses different soils and typography. For
example, the old Appalachian Region, comprised of Tennessee,
Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia, contains
the Appalachian mountains, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain areas,
all of which have quite different agriculture.
Patterns of Agricultural Diversity (Sommer and Hines)
County clusters, based on types of commodities produced,
have shown that a few commodities tend to dominate farm
production in specific geographic areas that cut across State
boundaries. The climate, soil, water, and topography in localized
geographic areas tend to constrain the types of crops and
livestock that will thrive there.
USDA Land Resource Regions
In constructing the ERS production regions, analysts
identified where areas with similar types of farms intersected
with areas of similar physiographic, soil, and climatic traits,
as reflected in USDA's Land Resource Regions.
NASS Crop Reporting Districts
ERS analysts then conformed these
intersecting areas to follow the boundaries of NASS Crop Reporting
Districts (CRD), which are aggregates of counties. With more and
more data available at the county level, geographic representations
need no longer be constrained to follow State boundaries. NASS districts aggregations of counties may
be downloaded from this NASS site.