Ag Glossary - E
Compiled by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and provided through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
and the United States Department of Agriculture
If you have a word to add to our list, contact us
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 Northeast.
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 million.
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.
Effluent — Waste, usually liquid, released or discharged to the environment. Generally the term refers to point source discharges of sewage or contaminated waste waters into surface waters.
Effluent Limits - Restrictions established by the Department of Environmental Protection on quantities, rates and concentrations of pollutants which are discharged into the waters of the Commonwealth.
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 marketed. The term elevator often refers to any grain storage facility, even if the grain is not elevated. The country elevator is where a farmer delivers grain; a terminal elevator is a major transshipment facility; while an export elevator is at a port facility.
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.
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 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.
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 Program.
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 program initially focused on central and eastern Europe and the form Soviet Union. 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 have the potential to provide viable and significant markets for U.S. agricultural products). The law authorizes $10 million per year and 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.
End-use certificate — The North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act mandates end-use requirements for wheat and barley imported from any country requiring end-use certificates for imports of U.S. produced commodities. Canada is the only nation that requires such certificates, and U.S. wheat is the only commodity subject to the restriction. Regulations implementing the End-Use Certificate Program, implemented February 27, 1995, are found at 7 CFR 782.
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.
Entomology - A branch of zoology dealing with the study of insects.
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 administration-initiated 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.
EPA -The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for protecting the nation's life sup-porting land, air and water systems. EPA oversees the following: pesticides and toxic substances; water; solid waste and emergency response; air; and radiation.
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 causes.
EQIP - The Federal Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) provides financial assistance to producers to implement better conservation practices.
Erosion - The process in which water or wind moves soil from one location to another. The four types of erosion are (1) sheet and rill-a general washing away of a thin uniform sheet of soil usually caused by rainfall or irrigation runoff (2) gully-channels or incision cut by concentrated water runoff from heavy rains (3) ephemeral-a water-worn, short-lived or seasonal incision, wider, deeper and longer than a rill, but shallower and smaller than a gully; and (4) wind-the carrying away of dust and sediment by wind in areas of high prevailing winds or low annual rainfall.
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.
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 - An alcohol that may be produced from an agricultural foodstock such as corn, sugarcane or wood. It is blended with gasoline to enhance the octane and reduce automobile exhaust pollution.
Ethology - The study of behavior of animals in the wild, under conditions of domestication, or in the laboratory for the purpose of confirming field observations.
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. .
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 native to a region.
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) — EFNEP is a program of the Cooperative Extension System that operates in all 50 states and U.S. territories. Started in 1965, its purpose is to provide low-income individuals, particularly youth and families with young children, with the knowledge, skills, and desire to adopt and maintain a nutritious diet.
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 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 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 - A program inaugurated in 1985 to offset subsidies offered by other countries. The program is extended to third-party countries that would otherwise buy from the subsidizing countries.
Export Incentive Program (EIP) — A federal export promotion effort operated by the Foreign Agricultural Service. 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 Subsidies - Special incentives, such as cash payments, tax exemptions, preferential exchange rates and special contracts extended by governments to encourage increased foreign sales.
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 distributed 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 Extension Service.
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. ELS cotton and upland cotton are both eligible for nonrecourse loans. However, ELS cotton is not eligible for marketing loan repayment provisions or loan deficiency payments.