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A Note to Users of USDA Baseline Projections

USDA long-term agricultural baseline projections presented in this report are a Departmental consensus on a long-run scenario for the agricultural sector. Thes e projections provide a starting point for discussion of alternative outcomes fo r the sector.

The scenario presented in this report is not a USDA forecast about the future. Instead, it is a conditional, long-run scenario about what would be expected to happen under a continuation of the 2002 Farm Act and specific assumptions about external conditions. The baseline includes short-term projections from the Nove mber 2003 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. The baseline w as completed prior to the diagnosis of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopath y (BSE) in an adult Holstein cow in Washington State in December 2003. Trade pr ojections in this report for 2004/05 incorporate long-term assumptions concernin g weather, foreign trend yields, and foreign use and do not reflect short-term c onditions that may affect trade that year.

Critical long-term assumptions are made for:

  • U.S. and international macroeconomic conditions,
  • U.S. and foreign agricultural and trade policies,
  • Growth rates of agricultural productivity in the United States and abroad, and
  • Weather.
Changes in assumptions for any of these items can significantly affect the baseline projections, and actual conditions that emerge will alter the outcomes.

The baseline projections analysis was conducted by interagency committees in USDA and reflects a composite of model results and judgment-base d analysis. The Economic Research Service has the lead role in preparing the Departmental baseline report. The projections and the report w ere reviewed and cleared by the Interagency Agricultural Projections Committee, chaired by the World Agricultural Outlook Board. USDA partic ipants in the baseline projections analysis and review include the World Agricultural Outlook Board, the Economic Research Service, the Farm Service Agency, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the Office of the Chief Economist, the Office of Budget and Program Analysis, the Risk Mana gement Agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.