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Friday, October 31, 2014
In 2013, the top 6 U.S. pumpkin producing states supplied over 1.13 billion pounds of pumpkins. Pumpkin production is widely dispersed, with crop conditions varying greatly by region. Illinois remains the leading producer of pumpkins, with a majority of the state’s production processed into pie filling and other uses. Supplies from the remaining top five pumpkin producing states are targeted primarily towards the seasonal fresh market for ornamental uses, as well as home processing. Demand for specialty pumpkins continues to expand as consumers look for new and interesting variations. In addition to the traditional jack-o-lantern market, there is an increase in pumpkins available in alternative colors (white, blue, striped), shapes (oblong, upright), skin (deep veins, warts) and sizes. This chart is based on information provided in Pumpkins: Background & Statistics.
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Thursday, October 30, 2014
The severity and duration of the ongoing drought in California has raised concerns over its role in rising food prices at the grocery store, especially for fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2012, California produced nearly 50 percent (by value) of the nation’s vegetables and non-citrus fruit. Droughts in California are generally associated with higher retail prices for produce, but price increases are lagged due to the time it takes for weather conditions and planting decisions to alter crop production, which then influence retail prices. In 2005, following five years of drought, retail fruit prices rose 3.7 percent and retail vegetable prices increased 4 percent. Prices continued to rise in 2006, one year after drought conditions began to improve. However, other factors such as energy prices and consumer demand also affect retail produce prices. For example, prices for fresh produce fell in 2009 despite drought conditions, as the 2007-09 recession reduced foreign and domestic demand for many retail foods. As of October 2014, ERS analysts are forecasting fresh fruit prices to increase 4.5 to 5.5 percent in 2014 and vegetable prices to be 2 to 3 percent higher. This chart appears in the Food Prices and Consumers section of the 2014 California Drought page on the ERS website. Information on ERS’s food price forecasts can be found in ERS’s Food Price Outlook data product, updated October 24, 2014.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014
During the pre-recession economic growth years, counties with a high percentage of their workforce employed in “creative” occupations—engineers, scientists, artists, and others tasked with combining knowledge and ideas in novel ways—tended to experience higher rates of local employment growth than other counties, but having a high share of creative jobs did not offer much local job market protection during the 2007-09 recession.  “Creative class” counties—those in the top quartile of all counties ranked by their share of creative jobs—were more likely to experience employment losses in the recession than other counties.  However, a higher share of creative class counties gained employment during the economic recovery. While a much higher percentage of metro counties have seen recent employment growth whether or not they are creative class counties, a higher share of nonmetro counties gained employment during both the recession and recovery, the latter group benefitting from employment gains driven mainly by the energy boom. This chart is derived from the October 2014 Amber Waves data feature, “What Happened to the “'Creative Class' Job Growth Engine” During the Recession and Recovery?
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Over 95 percent of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths from the 9.4 million episodes of foodborne illnesses in the United States that can be tied to identifiable pathogens are caused by 15 foodborne pathogens. A new ERS data product provides cost estimates for these 15 pathogens in terms of medical costs, wages lost from time away from work, and value of death. Norvirus illnesss is the most common U.S. foodborne illness and accounts for 60 percent of foodborne illnesses that can be tied to a specific pathogen—5.5 million cases a year. Although in 90 percent of cases people recover without seeking medical care, Norovirus ranks 4th among foodborne pathogens in terms of economic burden—an estimated $2.3 billion in a typical year. Fifty-seven percent of these costs are due to deaths, 16 percent are due to hospitalizations, and the remainder are incurred by those who treat themselves at home or visit a doctor. The statistics for this chart, and similar costs for 14 other foodborne pathogens, can be found in the Cost Estimates of Foodborne Illnesses data product released on October 7, 2014.
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Monday, October 27, 2014
The index of prices received by U.S. fruit and tree nut growers has remained consistently above year-ago levels and 2010-12 average levels during 2014.  The August grower price index for fruit and tree nuts was up 13 percent from a year earlier and 28 percent above the 2010-12 average. Late 2013 freezes in California and citrus greening issues in Florida have affected U.S. citrus crops and bolstered prices for most citrus fruit in 2014, with U.S. fresh orange prices reaching highs not seen since the early 1990s. Forecast smaller crops for grapes, peaches, and pears are contributing to elevated prices for non-citrus fruits. Lower expected production of some crops in California, as well as several other States, is contributing to the outlook for smaller overall harvests. Drought remains a serious concern among California fruit and tree nut growers, particularly if the lack of water for growing crops lingers through next year’s growing season. Find this chart and additional analysis in Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook: September 2014.
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Friday, October 24, 2014
The Federal Crop Insurance (FCI) program and ad hoc crop disaster legislation both provide producer support when crop disasters occur. Participation in the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCI) has grown steadily since the mid-1990s while outlays for ad hoc crop disaster payments have declined.  Before the increase in participation in FCI, the FCI program was associated with widespread losses and poor enrollment and throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, major crop losses were often associated with supplemental disaster legislation.  FCI participation increased with the passage of the Federal Crop Insurance Reform Act in 1994, and again with enactment of the Agricultural Risk Protection Act (ARPA) in 2000.  Ad hoc disaster assistance has subsequently declined with increased FCI participation. In 2012, with almost 80 percent of all cropland used for crops enrolled in the FCI program, no ad hoc disaster assistance was enacted despite the major U.S. drought and large associated crop losses.  Find this chart and additional analysis in “The Importance of Federal Crop Insurance Premium Subsidies” in the October Amber Waves.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014
Data from the 2013 American Community Survey show that the more rural an area (micropolitan counties with an urban core population of 10,000 to 49,999 and nonmetropolitan noncore counties with an urban population less than 10,000), the higher its share of residents with self-reported disabilities. Survey respondents ages 18 to 64 in the civilian nonistitutionalzed population were asked if they had serious difficulty with hearing, vision, cognitive ability, walking or climbing stairs, self-care, and independent living.Those who responded that they had difficulty with one or more of these conditions were reported to have a disabilty. Urban areas (metropolitan counties with an urban core population of 50,000 or more) had the lowest disabilty rates. The highest disababilty rates were found in the micropolitan and noncore South, while the Midwest had the lowest rural disabilty rates. Contributing negatively to the health conditions of rural residents are their lower average socioeconomic status, higher incidence of both smoking and obesity, lower levels of physical activity, older average age, and higher risks of workplace hazards. And in areas losing population, as is true of many rural areas, if the disabled are less likely to migrate, disability rates will increase over time. This chart updates one found in the ERS report, Health Status and Health Care Access of Farm and Rural Populations, EIB-57, August 2009.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
USDA measures food security status at the household level. Food-insecure households were, at times, unable to acquire adequate food for one or more household members because they had insufficient money and other resources for food. Statistics on the number of persons residing in food-insecure households should be interpreted carefully. Within a food-insecure household, different household members may have been affected differently by the household’s food insecurity. Some members—particularly young children—may have experienced only mild effects of food insecurity or none at all, while adults were more severely affected. In 2013, 49.1 million people lived in food-insecure households and 17.1 million of these individuals lived in households in the severe range of food insecurity, described as very low food security. Households with very low food security are those that were food insecure to the extent that eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and their food intake reduced at some during the year. The statistics for this chart are from Household Food Security in the United States in 2013: Statistical Supplement, AP-066, released on September 3, 2014.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
The rapid growth in use of U.S. corn to produce ethanol that occurred during the 2000s has slowed sharply since 2010, and now tracks with U.S. gasoline consumption.  Lower U.S. gasoline use since 2007, combined with market constraints to increased blending of biofuel, now limits the demand for corn-based ethanol.  Nearly all retail gasoline sold in the United States is a 10-percent ethanol blend (E10). Although ethanol demand now plays a more limited role in driving growth in U.S. corn demand, it continues to account for a large share of total U.S. corn use, averaging 39 percent since 2010.  This chart is based on data found in ERS's Feed Grains Database and U.S. Bioenergy Statistics. For more analysis, see Feed Outlook: October 2014.
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Monday, October 20, 2014
Agritourism involves attracting paying visitors to farms by offering farm tours, harvest festivals, hospitality services (such as bed and breakfast), petting zoos, and other attractions. Farms that provide agritourism services, referred to here as agritourism farms, also typically produce agricultural commodities and may provide a variety of other goods and services. Some agritourism farms engage in direct marketing of fresh foods to individual consumers and/or retailers, value-added agriculture (such as the production of beef jerky, fruit jams, jelly, preserves, cider, wine, and floral arrangements), generating renewable energy, and custom work (such as machine hire and hauling for other farms). All of these are considered nontraditional or niche activities that involve innovative uses of farm resources. While to some extent these nontraditional activities complement the farm operation’s commodity and agritourism enterprises, research suggests that they also reflect higher levels of education and connections to the broader economy that are more typical of agritourism farm operators. This chart is found in the October 2014 edition of Amber Waves magazine.
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Friday, October 17, 2014
Global stocks of major crop commodities are forecast to expand in the 2014/15 marketing year, with total stocks of wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans completing recovery from the relatively low levels that preceded the 2008 spike in world crop prices. Record U.S. crops of corn and soybeans, along with good harvest by some other major producing countries, are forecast to push both U.S. and global stocks of these commodities to record levels. World wheat stocks are forecast to rise based on the outlook for record or near-record harvests by major foreign producers, including China, the EU, India, and the Former Soviet Union. While world rice stocks are forecast below peak levels of the early 2000s, good harvests and ample stocks are expected across the major producing regions in Asia. The supply outlook is expected to lead to lower commodity prices, with the average U.S. farm prices of corn (-24 percent), soybeans (-23 percent), wheat (-14 percent), and rice (-10 percent) all forecast down in their respective 2014/15 marketing years compared with 2013/14. Find additional analysis in the current editions of Feed Grain Outlook, Oil Crops Outlook, Wheat Outlook, and Rice Outlook.
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Thursday, October 16, 2014
Celebrated on October 16, World Food Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the worldwide problems of poverty and hunger. Countries vary in how much their citizens spend on food at home as a share of consumption expenditures. Consumption expenditures include all household spending, but not savings. High-income countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have higher food spending in absolute terms, but their food spending share is low. These two countries spent less than 10 percent of their consumption expenditures on food purchased from supermarkets and other food stores in 2013, while the share approached 50 percent in low-income countries such as Kenya. Per capita calorie availability follows the reverse pattern. In 2011, U.S. per capita calorie availability was 3,639 calories per day, while Kenya’s was 2,189 calories—more than one-third less. Middle-income countries such as Brazil and China surpassed daily calorie availability of 3,000 calories per person with a 16-percent share of consumption expenditures for food at home in Brazil and 26 percent in China. The data for this chart come from ERS’s Food Expenditures data product, updated on October 1, 2014, complemented with data from United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, FAOSTAT.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014
The United Nations has designated 2014 as the “International Year of Family Farming” to highlight the potential family farmers have to help feed the world. But what is a family farm? USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) defines family farms as those whose principal operator, and people related to the principal operator by blood or marriage, own most of the farm business. Under the ERS definition, family farms represent 97.6 percent of all U.S. farms and are responsible for 85 percent of U.S. farm production. Other definitions rely on who supplies the labor. Large farms often rely heavily on hired labor, but farm families who own the farm and provide most of the farm’s labor still account for 87.1 percent of U.S. farms, with 57.6 percent of farm production. Some farms also hire firms to perform some farm tasks. If we account for the labor provided by those firms, family farms that provide most of the labor used on the farm still account for 86.1 percent of farms and nearly half of production. This chart can be found in “Family Farming in the United States” in the March 2014 Amber Waves.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Continued progress in improving agricultural productivity—producing more output from a unit of aggregate inputs—is key to meeting expanding global food needs. Total factor productivity (TFP) in agriculture is an indicator of the rate of technical change based on a comprehensive measure of the amount of output attained from all of the land, labor, capital, and material resources employed in production. Over the 2002-2011 decade, agricultural TFP rose in every region of the world. In all regions except Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, gains in TFP accounted for most of the increase in agricultural output.  In regions like Europe, Oceania, and North America, positive TFP growth compensated for declining input use to keep output growth positive in all cases except Europe.  While Asia, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa achieved the most rapid expansion in agricultural output over the decade, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and West Asia/North Africa regions recorded the most rapid gains in TFP.  Estimates of TFP growth are derived by ERS using data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This chart is based on data found in ERS's International Agricultural Productivity dataset.
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Friday, October 10, 2014
If you have a sweet tooth, you are not alone. A recent analysis of intake data from the 2007-10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that U.S. children ate an average of 9.7 teaspoons of added sugars for each 1,000 calories consumed, and adults consumed 8.4 teaspoons of added sugars per 1,000 calories. Added sugars are the sugars, syrups, and other caloric sweeteners added to foods, including table sugar added to coffee and high fructose corn syrup used in soft drinks, ketchup, and other processed foods. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise that added sugars and added fats should account for no more than 258 calories of a 2,000-calorie diet. Half of this maximum coming from added sugars would equal 3.9 teaspoons per 1,000 calories—less than half of what Americans are consuming. The analysis also found that on average, lower-income individuals consumed more added sugars than higher-income individuals. This chart appears in “Food Consumption and Nutrient Intake Data—Tools for Assessing Americans’ Diets” in the October 2014 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.
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Thursday, October 09, 2014
During the 2007-09 recession, unemployment rates rose fastest in the West, South, South Atlantic, and parts of the Midwest. States most reliant on manufacturing—including Michigan, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and North Carolina—were hit especially hard. Many of the States with the smallest increases in unemployment were located in the Great Plains and had relatively high employment shares in agriculture, which was largely unaffected by the recession. Similarly, States in the West South Central region (which includes Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas) saw their unemployment rates held in check by growth in oil and gas drilling. Since 2009, unemployment rates have fallen in all States, with large improvements in a few. In general, States that experienced the largest increases in unemployment rates during the recession have seen the largest reductions in unemployment rates during the recovery. Still, most of the hardest-hit States continue to have above-average unemployment rates. As a result, the current geography of county unemployment rates still reflects the patterns established during the recession. Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates (below 4.7 percent) are located in or near the Great Plains. The highest unemployment rate counties (above 8.7 percent) are concentrated in the West, South, and South Atlantic, as well as in Appalachia and parts of the Rust Belt. This chart is found in the October 2014 edition of Amber Waves.
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Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Since disease, pest outbreaks, and severe storm damage led to the decline of U.S. commercial lime production in the early 2000s, nearly all U.S. demand for fresh limes has been met through imports, originating almost exclusively from Mexico. Monthly shipment volumes and U.S. prices of limes generally reflect the seasonal pattern of supplies from Mexico, with lower volumes and higher prices during the winter months. In the spring of 2014, U.S. prices for limes spiked to record levels after heavy rainfall in Veracruz, Mexico in the fall of 2013 that led to a smaller harvest of Persian limes. The average shipping-point f.o.b. (free-on-board) price for Mexican limes peaked at $79.65 per 40-pound carton in April 2014, more than 3 times higher than in April 2013. National average advertised retail prices reported by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) show that prices climbed to $1.02 per lime in April 2014, over triple the April 2013 price of $0.29 per lime. The price spike subsided by July 2014, as lime shipments increased with the beginning of the spring harvest in April 2014. Although there was speculation that a cartel in the state of Michoacán was behind the sharp rise in prices, that region primarily grows key limes rather than the Persian variety that is exported to the United States. Find this chart and additional analysis in Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook.
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Tuesday, October 07, 2014
ERS’s Quarterly Food-Away-From-Home Prices (QFAFHP) data product provides quarterly average prices for products at away-from-home eating places (full- and limited-service restaurants, vending machines, and schools) across geographic areas and over time, and can be combined with the Quarterly Food-At-Home Price Database to make comparisons between at-home and away-from-home markets. Using these data, ERS researchers observed that beverages away from home are generally more expensive than at-home versions. In the last quarter of 2010, nonalcoholic beverages purchased at limited-service restaurants cost $1.37 for a 16-ounce serving, while beverages purchased at vending machines cost $1.00 for 16 ounces. Beverages purchased in food stores cost even less—$0.44 for 16 ounces.  From 1999 to 2010, inflation-adjusted beverage prices at limited-service restaurants and vending machines grew only 1 percent per year on average, while they declined 1 percent at food stores. This chart appears in “New Data on U.S. Food-Away-From-Home Prices Show Geographic and Time Variation” in ERS’s September 2014 Amber Waves magazine.
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Monday, October 06, 2014
According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, women are the principal operators of nearly 14 percent of U.S. farms, but their share varies widely by farm specialization. Women operate a disproportionately large portion of sheep/goat farms and “other livestock farms,” three-quarters of which are horse farms. Farms in these two categories tend to be small; 46 percent of sheep/goat farms and 57 percent of other livestock farms have sales less than $1,000, compared with only 20 percent of all U.S. farms. Establishments of this size qualify as farms under USDA’s definition because they have sufficient acres of crops or head of livestock to indicate they could normally have $1,000 or more in sales. For example, five horses or ponies would qualify an establishment as a farm even if the operator has no plans to sell the animals. On the other hand, 1 percent of farms with a woman principal operator (2,486 farms) have sales of $1 million or more. This chart is an update of one found in the ERS report, Characteristics of Women Farm Operators and Their Farms, EIB-111, April 2013.
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Friday, October 03, 2014
Most of the largest individual country markets for U.S. agricultural exports are in Asia and North America. China, with its strong demand for soybeans, cotton, cattle hides, tree nuts, and other horticulture products, has become the largest single U.S agricultural market, with annual U.S. exports averaging $23.5 billion during 2011-13. Canada (with 2011-13 average U.S. exports of $20.3 billion) and Mexico ($18.5 billion) are the second and third largest markets, with trade in a broad range of agricultural commodities aided by reforms introduced by the 20-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Japan ($13.2 billion) is the fourth largest U.S. market, and the next five top ranked markets are also in Asia: South Korea ($6.0 billion), Hong Kong ($3.5 billion), Taiwan ($3.3 billion), Indonesia ($2.7 billion), and the Philippines ($2.3 billion).   Total U.S. agricultural exports were a record $144.1 billion in 2013, and averaged $140.6 billion during 2011-13. Find this chart and more in Selected Charts 2014, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials.
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Last updated: Thursday, October 30, 2014

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