Growing a Nation

Historical Timeline — 1990-2000

Economic Cycles

1990-91
Recession
1991-2000
Business expansion

 

 

 

Farm Economy

1990s
Concentration grows in farm inputs industry and among processors and shippers; more farms turn to production and marketing contracts, increasing vertical coordination

1996
Net farm income reaches a record $54.9 billion

1998-99
Price slump caused by large commodity surpluses

Farmers & the Land

1990
Total population: 261,423,000; farm population: 2,987,552; farmers 2.6% of labor force; Number of farms: 2,143,150; average acres: 461; irrigated acres: 49,404,000 (1992)

1991
Farm entrepreneurial population: 5,024,000

1998
Number of farms: 2.19 million; average acres: 435

1990
Rural counties gain population after losing ground in the 1980s

2000
Total population: 275,000,000 (est.)

Farm Machinery & Technology

1990
One farmer supplies 100 persons (est.)

1990s
Information technology and precision techniques increasingly used in agriculture

1994
Farmers begin using satellite technology to track and plan their farming practices. The user of conservation tillage methods, which leave crop residues in the field to combat erosion, continues to rise. FDA grants first approval for a whole food produced through biotechnology, the FLAVRSAVR™ tomato. Farm Bureau celebrates its 75th anniversary. U.S. Congress approves General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), helping liberalize world trade

1997
The first weed and insect—resistant biotech crops-soybeans and cotton—are available commercially

Crops & Livestock

1990s
Biotechnology brings important new developments in dairy, corn, and other commodities; genetically engineered crops and livestock appear

1990s
Livestock waste becomes a major issue

Mid-1990s
USDA meat inspection programs modernized in response to concerns about food safety

1997
'New Leaf Superior,' a potato developed by Monsanto that carries a beetle-killing BT gene, is registered as an insecticide with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1997-98
Tobacco industry settles lawsuits; aid proposed to tobacco farmers

Transportation

1990s
Consolidation of rail lines reduces transportation options for rural residents

1998
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century greatly increases highway spending

Agricultural Trade & Development

1990-97
Agricultural exports: $48.2 billion/year or 9.5% of total exports

1990s
Farmers' Markets a popular way for small farmers to reach consumers directly

1990
Negotiations begin for a free-trade agreement with Mexico

1993
Revised GATT and new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) lower trade barriers and enhance export prospects

1996
Agricultural exports set record at $60.4 billion

Life on the Farm

1990-99
Farm families make up less than 10 percent of rural population but rural areas experience some growth

 

 

Farm Organizations & Movements

Agricultural Education & Extension

1990s
Distance education becomes an increasingly important way to make cooperative research and extension resources accessible

Government Programs & Policy

1990
Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act increase farmers' flexibility in planting under government programs

1990
Congress passes the Organic Food Production Act, authorizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a nationwide definition for organic food

1994
USDA reorganizes to streamline functions and improve efficiency

1996
Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act revises farm programs to increase reliance on market signals

1998-99
Emergency farm assistance acts provide relief for disasters and market losses

1999
USDA's Community Food Security Initiative aimed at aiding grass-roots efforts to reduce hunger and improve nutrition

2000
USDA unveils organic standards and official organic seal

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