Agricultural Commodity, Agricultural Product and Related Terms: Definitions for Federal Policy

CRS Report for Congress
“Agricultural Commodity,” “Agricultural
Product,” “Farm Product” and Related Terms:
Definitions for Federal Policy
Geoffrey S. Becker
Specialist in Agricultural Policy
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
No consistent official definitions exist of “agricultural commodity” or of other
closely related terms, such as “agricultural product,” “farm product,” and others. The
table in this report, which will not be updated, provides a broad, but not necessarily
complete, listing of these terms as they are defined throughout the agriculture and
conservation titles of the U.S. Code (Titles 7 and 16, respectively).
When considering legislation affecting the agricultural sector and related industries,
policymakers may be asked to define what they mean by “agricultural commodity” or
some closely related term. Such a definition may help to determine the reach of a
program or policy – for example, the types of farmers and producers eligible for a
particular subsidy; who must abide by a restrictive regulation and who is exempt; the total
cost of a policy to the industry and/or taxpayers.
No consistent official definitions exist of “agricultural commodity” or of other
closely related terms, such as “agricultural product,” “farm product,” “basic
commodities,” “nonbasic commodities,” “perishable commodities,” and “livestock.”
Such terms do appear, and carry with them varying definitions, in at least 20 different
places throughout the agricultural and conservation titles of the U.S. Code (Titles 7 and

16, respectively). The following table provides a broad, but not necessarily complete,

listing of these terms where they are defined throughout these titles.
In each case, the term is intended to have a specialized or unique meaning, most
often either to exclude or to include particular items or producers from eligibility or
coverage under a program or activity. A term might be relatively general and/or
expansive, as in the law authorizing foreign food aid under P.L. 480, the Food for Peace
program (7 U.S.C. Section 1732; see table, below). Or, it may deliberately exclude
certain products, as under the Agricultural Fair Practices Act of 1967 (7 U.S.C. Section

2302; see table).

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Table 1. Definitions in U.S. Code
Ci t e Subj ect / P rogram Language
7 U.S.C. §138National Laboratory“Agricultural product means any fresh fruit or
(Chapter 6A)Accreditation (forvegetable or any commodity product derived from
pesticide testing)livestock or fowl, that is marketed in the United States
for human consumption.”
7 U.S.C. §241Warehouses“Agricultural product means an agricultural
(Chapter 10)(agricultural storagecommodity, as determined by the Secretary, including
facility regulation)a processed product of an agricultural commodity.”
7 U.S.C. §433MiscellaneousFederal laws and administrative actions “pertaining to
(Chapter 17)matters (fur-bearingfox, rabbit, mink, chinchilla, marten, fisher, muskrat,
animals)karakul and all other fur-bearing animals, raised in
captivity for breeding and other useful purposes shall
be deemed domestic animals [and] such animals and
the products thereof shall be deemed agricultural

7 U.S.C. §451Cooperative“Agricultural products means agricultural,

(Chapter 18)marketing (USDAhorticultural, viticultural, and dairy products, livestock
services/support for)and the products thereof, the products of poultry and
bee raising, the edible products of forestry, and any
and all products raised or produced on farms and
processed or manufactured producers thereof,
transported or intended to be transported in interstate
and/or foreign commerce.”
7 U.S.C. §499aPerishable“Perishable agricultural commodity (A) Means any of
(Chapter 20A)Agriculturalthe following, whether or not frozen or packed in ice:
Commodities (Act)Fresh fruits and fresh vegetables of every kind and
character; and (B) includes cherries in brine as defined
by the Secretary in accordance with trade usages.”
7 U.S.C. §608cAgriculturalThis section limits the agricultural commodities for
(Chapter 26)adjustmentwhich orders can be issued, by specifying by name,
(marketing orders)those that can and cannot be covered.

7 U.S.C. §1282aAgricultural“Agricultural products shall include meat, poultry,

(Chapter 35)Adjustment Act ofvegetables, fruits, and all other agricultural
1938 (adjustingcommodities in raw or processed form, except forestry
price controls toproducts or fish or fishery products.
ensure adequate
7 U.S.C. §1428Price support ofThis section of code sets out the terms of mandatory
(Chapter 35A)agriculturalprice support for a basic agricultural commodity,
commoditiesmeaning corn, cotton, peanuts, rice, tobacco, and
(general provisions)wheat, distinguishing them from a nonbasic
agricultural commodity, meaning any agricultural
commodity other than a basic agricultural commodity.

Ci t e Subj ect / P rogram Language
7 U.S.C. §1431Price support ofEligible commodities are defined to include “dairy
(Chapter 35A)agriculturalproducts, wheat, rice, feed grains, and oilseeds
commoditiesacquired by the Commodity Credit Corporation [CCC]
(USDA dispositionthrough price support operations, and the products
of surplusthereof, that the Secretary determines meet the criteria
commodities tospecified” in this section of the law and “such other
prevent waste)edible agricultural commodities as may be acquired by
the CCC in the normal course of operations...”
7 U.S.C. §1471Price support of“Livestock means cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry
(Chapter 35A)agricultural(including egg-producing poultry), equine animals
commoditiesused for food or in the production of food, fish used
(Emergencyfor food, and other animals designated by the Secretary
Livestock Feed(at the Secretary’s sole discretion) that (A) are part of
Assistance Act ofa foundation herd (including producing dairy cattle) or
1988)offspring; or (B) are purchased as part of a normal
operation and not to obtain additional benefits...”

7 U.S.C. §1518Crop insurance“Agricultural commodity, as used in this chapter,

(Chapter 36)means wheat, cotton, flax, corn, dry beans, oats,
barley, rye, tobacco, rice, peanuts, soybeans, sugar
beets, sugar cane, tomatoes, grain sorghum,
sunflowers, raisins, oranges, sweet corn, dry peas,
freezing and canning peas, forage, apples, grapes,
potatoes, timber and forests, nursery crops, citrus, and
other fruits and vegetables, nuts, tame hay, native
grass, aquacultural species (including, but not limited
to, any species of finfish, mollusk, crustacean, or other
aquatic invertebrate, amphibian, reptile, or aquatic
plant propagated or reared in a controlled or selected
environment), or any other agricultural commodity,
excluding stored grain, determined by the Board, or
any one or more of such commodities, as the context
may dictate.”
7 U.S.C. §1631Distribution and“Farm product means an agricultural commodity such
(Chapter 38)marketing ofas wheat, corn, soybeans, or a species of livestock such
agriculturalas cattle, hogs, sheep, horses, or poultry used or
products (protectionproduced in farming operations, or a product of such
for purchasers ofcrop or livestock in its unmanufactured state (such as
farm products)ginned cotton, wool-clip, maple syrup, milk, and eggs)
that is in the possession of a person engaged in
farming operations.”

7 U.S.C. §1635aLivestock“The term livestock means cattle, swine, and lambs.”

(Chapter 38)mandatory reporting
7 U.S.C. §1732Agricultural Trade“Agricultural commodity, unless otherwise provided
(Chapter 41)Development andfor in this chapter, includes any agricultural
Assistance (P.L.commodity or the products thereof produced in the
480)United States, including wood and processed wood
products, fish, and livestock, as well as value-added,
fortified, or high-value agricultural products.”

Ci t e Subj ect / P rogram Language
7 U.S.C. §1769Foreign market“Agricultural commodity as used in this chapter
(Chapter 43)developmentincludes any agricultural commodity or product
7 U.S.C. §2302Unfair trade“Agricultural products shall not include cotton or
(Chapter 56)practices affectingtobacco or their products.”
producers of
(Agricultural Fair
Practices Act)
7 U.S.C. §5602Export promotion“Agricultural commodity means any agricultural
(Chapter 87)(Agricultural Tradecommodity, food, feed, fiber, or livestock (including
Act of 1978)livestock as it is defined in section 1471(2) of this title
and insects), and any product thereof.” (See above for
§1471(2) definition.)
7 U.S.C. §6502Organic“Agricultural product means any agricultural
(Chapter 94)certification ofcommodity or product, whether raw or processed,
agriculturalincluding any commodity or product, whether raw or
productsprocessed, including any commodity or product
derived from livestock that is marketed in the United
States for human or livestock consumption.”
“Livestock means any cattle, sheep, goats, swine,
poultry, equine animals used for food or in the
production of food, fish used for food, wild and
domesticated game, or other nonplant life.”

7 U.S.C. §7333Agricultural marketNoninsured crop disaster assistance must be offered,

(Chapter 100)transitionat an equivalent level, to eligible crops where
(noninsured cropcatastrophic risk protection under the regular crop
assistance)insurance program is not available. An “eligible crop”
means each commercial crop produced for food and
fiber and “shall include floricultural, ornamental
nursery, and Christmas tree crops, turfgrass sod, seed
crops, aquaculture (including ornamental fish), and
industrial crops.”

7 U.S.C. §7412Agricultural“Agricultural commodity means (A) agricultural,

(Chapter 101)promotion (check-horticultural, and dairy products; (B) livestock and the
off programs)products of livestock; (C) the products of poultry and
bee raising); (D) the products of forestry; (E) other
commodities raised or produced on farms, as
determined appropriate by the Secretary; and (F)
products processed or manufactured from products
specified in the preceding subparagraphs, as
determined appropriate by the Secretary.”

Ci t e Subj ect / P rogram Language
7 U.S.C. §7996Equitable relief“The term agricultural commodity means any
(Chapter 106)from ineligibilityagricultural commodity, food, feed, fiber, or livestock
for loans, paymentsthat is subject to a covered program.” (Covered
and other benefitsprograms are USDA price or income support, or
under specifiedproduction or market loss assistance, and conservation
farm programsprograms, but not farm credit or crop insurance.)
16 U.S.C. §590jSoil Conservation“Agricultural commodity as used in this chapter means
(Chapter 3B)any such commodity and any regional or market
classification, type, or grade thereof.”
16 U.S.C.§3801Erodible Land and“Agricultural commodity means (A) any agricultural
(Chapter 58)Wetlandcommodity planted and produced in a State by annual
Conservation andtilling of the soil, including tilling by one-trip planters;
Reserve Programor (B) sugarcane planted and produced in a State.
16 U.S.C.§3831Erodible Land andFor conservation reserve program, “alfalfa and other
(Chapter 58)Wetlandmulti-year grasses and legumes in a rotation practice,
Conservation andapproved by the Secretary, shall be considered
Reserve Programagricultural commodities.”