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Whole grain density increased in school foods after 2012

Monday, May 13, 2024

Since 2005, the Federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans have recommended that people eat at least half of their grain intake in the form of whole grains. The process of refining grains removes some portions that contain vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, while whole grains contain all parts of the grain kernel. Whole grains are measured in ounce equivalents, with one ounce equivalent representing roughly the same amount of grain as in a slice of bread or a half-cup of rice. The Federal recommendations based on a 2,000-calorie diet are 1.5 ounce equivalents of whole grains per 1,000 calories. In 1994–98, U.S. residents 2 years old and over averaged 0.4 ounce equivalents of whole grains per 1,000 calories, less than one-third the recommendation. Whole-grain intake remained essentially unchanged in 2017–18 at 0.43 ounce equivalents per 1,000 calories. From 1994 to 2018, food prepared at home was more whole-grain dense when compared with the broad category of food obtained from all outside sources (such as restaurants, fast food, and school). However, there were considerable differences between foods obtained at school and other sources of foods prepared away from home. These differences widened after 2012, when changes in the USDA nutrition standards for school meals and other foods sold at schools established whole-grain requirements. School foods include foods obtained from USDA school meals or other foods sold at school that are not brought from home, such as snacks. This chart appears in the Amber Waves article Children Were Only Age Group Improving Whole-Grain Intakes—School Foods Are a Key Factor, published in September 2023.

2022 Census of Agriculture: U.S. flower farms blossom amid growing traditional outdoor cultivation

Thursday, May 9, 2024

With Mother’s Day approaching, many will gift bouquets filled with blooms grown domestically and imported from abroad. Cut flowers and florist greens raised domestically were valued at nearly $763 million in 2022, according to the 2022 Census of Agriculture from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). About 10,800 commercial farms grew flowers and greens for use by florists that year, increasing by more than 50 percent from the previous census in 2017. Greenhouses and other protected-culture technologies make cultivation feasible in a wide variety of geographic locations and, in 2022, commercial flower farms spanned all 50 States. Growers throughout the country reported more than 158 million square feet of protected-culture flower and green production in 2022—the equivalent of almost 2,750 football fields. Despite the advantages to greenhouse production, growing flowers conventionally is on the rise in the United States. In 2022, more than 31,000 acres of flowers were grown in the open, an increase of 33 percent from the 2017 census. Domestic cut flower sales increased $90 million from the 2017 census, not adjusting for inflation. The value of imported flowers also increased over that time. Cut flower imports were valued at $1.9 billion in 2022, an increase of $783 million from 2017. This chart is based on data from the NASS 2022 Census of Agriculture and draws from the USDA, Economic Research Service Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade: February 2024.

Energy development payments to farmers vary by region

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Energy markets experienced significant shifts beginning in the early 2000s, with price increases and technological improvements leading to a dramatic increase in oil and natural gas production, as well as wind energy development. Research by USDA, Economic Research Service shows that the Plains region had the largest share of farm producers receiving energy payments from energy developers for on-farm energy production, 7.40 percent, and the largest average annual payment, $39,087, between 2011–20. This region includes States with significant oil, natural gas, and wind energy production, such as Texas and Oklahoma, as well as a high proportion of farmers who own the oil and gas development rights to their land. The West and Atlantic regions have a far lower share of producers who received payments on average, 2.18 and 2.82 percent, respectively. Significant oil and gas production in the Atlantic is limited to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and many producers in the West do not own their land’s oil and gas mineral rights, which can be legally separated from land rights. However, for those receiving payments, the average annual payments in the West and Atlantic regions were $31,821 and $29,015, respectively. These payments were near the national average of $30,482. The lowest proportion of farmers receiving energy payments was in the South, at 1.45 percent. Most Southern States have low potential for large-scale wind energy development and little onshore oil and natural gas development. In the Midwest, where there is little oil and gas production and more wind power, payments were less common, 2.34 percent, and producers received the lowest average payment, $10,953. Read more about the size, frequency, trends, and relative contribution of energy payments to farm operator income in the ERS report The Role of Commercial Energy Payments in Agricultural Producer Income, released in April 2024.

2022 Census of Agriculture: Interest expense data illustrate distribution of U.S. farm debt

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

The recently released USDA Census of Agriculture shows interest payments on farm debt in 2022 were heavily concentrated in the upper Midwest, northern Great Plains, and California’s Central Valley. Conducted every 5 years by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census includes producer responses to questions about production expenses for their farms and ranches, including how much interest they paid on debt. Interest expenditures are a good indicator for where agricultural operations hold debt across the country. In 2022, producers spent $13.4 billion on interest payments, an 8.1-percent real decline from the 2017 Agricultural Census, even though real total farm debt rose 7.8 percent from $390.4 billion to $420.4 billion. Interest rates had dropped throughout most of 2020 and 2021 and were still relatively low during the 2022 calendar year, only beginning to rise in the second quarter of 2022. For more details from the 2022 Census of Agriculture, see the NASS Agricultural Census website. For more on financial sectors and their relationship with agriculture, see the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product. See also Increases in U.S. Farm Debt and Interest Expenses Minimally Affect Sector’s Financial Position in the Short-Term, as Measured by Liquidity and Solvency Ratios, published in August 2023 in ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

Energy payments to farmers rise and fall with oil prices

Monday, May 6, 2024

The amount of money farmers receive for leasing their land for the production of energy, such as oil, natural gas, or wind, varies significantly from year to year and has typically followed the price of oil. According to data analyzed by USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers, payments grew from an average of $38,788 in 2011 to $62,944 in 2013, when the price of oil averaged about $110 per barrel (adjusted for inflation), but then fell as low as $14,032 in 2020, when oil was near $40 per barrel. Not all farmers receive energy payments since many farm operators do not own their land, and even for those who do, subsurface mineral rights might have been separated from surface rights so that the farmer would not receive payments from on-farm energy production. For farmers who have historically benefited from energy, development of oil and natural gas have been a more common source of income than wind power, which is a younger industry. In the United States, about 3.5 percent of farm operations received energy payments between 2011 and 2020. Read more about the size, frequency, trends, and relative contribution of energy payments to farm operator income in the ERS report The Role of Commercial Energy Payments in Agricultural Producer Income, released in April 2024.

One quarter of the military population experienced food insecurity in 2018 and 2020

Thursday, May 2, 2024

In 2018 and 2020, 25.3 percent of the military population reported experiencing food insecurity, or low and very low food security, compared with 10.1 percent in the demographically equivalent civilian adult population. Food security—defined as access to enough food for an active, healthy life at all times—is associated with cognitive function, body mass index, and intentions to stay in the military. Further, 10.5 percent of the military population reported the more severe form of food insecurity, very low food security, in 2018 and 2020. During the same period, the civilian adult population reported very low food security of 3.6 percent. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) monitors the food security status of households in the United States through an annual nationwide survey, which provided the civilian adult data. Military data were drawn from the Status of Forces Survey of Active Duty Members. These findings indicate that the military population experiences elevated rates of food insecurity compared with the general population. This chart appears in the ERS report Comparing Food Insecurity Among the U.S. Military and Civilian Adult Populations, published in April 2024.

Cage-free egg inventory recovers following avian flu outbreak

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Cage-free hens make up an increasing portion of the total U.S. egg-laying flock. In March 2024, the cage-free flock was reported at about 40 percent (124.8 million layers) of the U.S. flock. However, a wave of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in egg-laying hens in late 2023 reduced the inventory of cage-free eggs into February 2024. An estimated 13.6 million birds, both cage-free and caged, were depopulated following an outbreak spanning November 2023 to January 2024. This depopulation included about 4 million hens from California’s cage-free flock. California laws require its retailers to source eggs from cage-free layers regardless of the State of origin. To make up for the shortfall, cage-free eggs from other States were shipped to the California market. The resulting spike in demand prompted the advertised national average retail price for cage-free eggs to peak at $5.26 per dozen on January 12, 2024. Weekly wholesale prices for eggs in California increased to a high of $5.59 per dozen in the following weeks. U.S. inventories of cage-free eggs have since recovered, up from their low the week of January 22, 2024, and continued to climb into April 2024. Prices of cage-free eggs have also returned to a typical range. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook, March 2024, and has been updated with recent data.

2022 Census of Agriculture: Most U.S. counties with high concentration of specialty crop farms are located along coasts

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Data from the recently released 2022 USDA Census of Agriculture show that farms specializing in specialty crops accounted for 10 percent of all farm operations. Specialty crop operations include those that primarily grow vegetables and melons, fruit and tree nuts, and greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture products, and are responsible for $84 billion in cash receipts (15 percent of the U.S. total). For 127 counties (or county equivalents), specialty crop farms accounted for more than 40 percent of all farms within the county. Most of these counties are in States along the west and east coasts (including Alaska and Hawaii) and in or near metropolitan areas. Half of the counties with the highest concentration of farms primarily engaged in growing specialty crops were in California, New York, Florida, and New Jersey. Almost all (95 percent) of U.S. counties with farms as well as every State had at least one farm growing primarily specialty crops. This chart was drawn from data from USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service’s website. For more information on cash receipts by State and commodity, including specialty crop commodities, see USDA, Economic Research Service’s Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product.

About 20 cents of each dollar spent on food in 2022 went to foodservice labor costs

Monday, April 29, 2024

Primary factors are the resources used by firms to convert raw materials and intermediate goods into finished products and services. In 2022, the primary factor shares across the domestic food supply chain were 5.0 cents of every dollar spent on domestically produced food for imports, 8.8 cents for output taxes, 36.8 cents for property income, and 49.3 cents for salaries and benefits. These primary factors can also be separated by industry groups, which are collections of establishments that produce similar types of products or services, including transportation, food processing, and retail trade. The foodservices industry group, which includes eating and drinking establishments such as restaurants, received a total of 34.1 cents of each dollar spent on domestically produced food. Of this amount, salary and benefits were 20.3 cents and property income was 9.7 cents. These costs in the foodservices industry group rank as the two highest primary factor costs of all the 12 industry groups measured in the Food Dollar Series. Additionally, 3.6 cents went to output taxes, such as excise, sales, and other taxes on production, less subsidies; and 0.5 cents went to embedded imports—imported ingredients and equipment used in domestic production. This chart uses information in the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) Food Dollar Series data product, updated November 15, 2023, and the Amber Waves article ERS Food Dollar's Three Series Show Distributions of U.S. Food Production Costs, published in December 2023.

Natural disasters, disease cut Florida orange production an estimated 92 percent since 2003/04

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Florida’s citrus industry has long been susceptible to freezes, hurricanes, and disease. A series of devastating freezes in the 1970s and 1980s caused production to shift to more southern regions of the State. Then after near-record output in the 2003/04 season, subsequent events decreased Florida’s orange output at an average rate of 6 percent a year. Between 2004 and 2005, 4 hurricanes reduced the size of the orange crop and further spread citrus canker, a bacterial disease damaging to tree health and fruit quality, to previously unaffected areas. The Florida citrus industry faced an additional challenge in 2005, when citrus greening disease, a bacterial disease deadly to citrus trees, was first detected in its commercial groves. Citrus greening disease leads to premature fruit drop, unripe fruit, and eventual tree death. With no known cure, citrus growers use a variety of management strategies to protect young trees, increase tree immune response, sustain grove health, and improve fruit marketability. While these management strategies can partially offset yield losses, they increase the costs of production. Hurricanes in 2017 and 2022 dealt further damage to Florida’s citrus industry. Since 2003/04, bearing acreage of Florida’s orange trees has declined at an average rate of 3 percent per year. In April 2024, USDA forecast Florida’s orange 2023/24 production at 846,000 tons, 19 percent higher than the previous year but the second-lowest harvest in nearly 90 years. This chart updates information in the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, published in March 2023.

Crop insurance payments to farmers vary by farm type

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

About 13 percent of U.S. farms participated in Federal crop insurance programs in 2022, with the highest share of participants coming from small family farms. The four types of small family farms (retirement, off-farm occupation, low sales, and moderate sales) accounted for 54 percent of the participants in Federal crop insurance programs and received 12 percent of the insurance payments. Small family farms harvested 26 percent of all cropland acres. On the other hand, midsize and large-scale family farm operators accounted for a slightly lower proportion of Federal crop insurance participants (42 percent) but harvested a majority of the U.S. cropland acres (67 percent) and received 80 percent of payments from Federal crop insurance. Larger farms like these account for 46 percent of agricultural acres operated in 2022. Researchers with USDA, Economic Research Service examined survey data and found that participation rates varied widely across commodity production. In 2022, 62 percent of farms producing row crops (cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat, peanuts, rice, and sorghum) purchased Federal crop insurance, while 9 percent of farms growing specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, and nursery crops, did the same. This chart appears in America’s Farms and Ranches at a Glance, published December 2023.

Farmers received about half of what consumers paid for fresh strawberries from 2020–23

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

As summertime approaches, it may interest shoppers that U.S. farmers have received more than half of what consumers paid for fresh strawberries since 2020. In 2023, the average retail price for fresh strawberries was $3.80 per pound, a few cents less than in 2022, but about 52 cents more than in 2019 and 75 cents more than in 2014. Marketing costs, including payments to firms for packing, transporting, wholesaling, and retailing fresh strawberries, have been down since 2020. However, farm level prices, which factor into retail prices, have been generally higher. In the farm share calculations, USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) estimates that about 8 percent of fresh strawberries is lost through spoilage and trimming, so it’s assumed marketers buy about 1.09 pounds of fresh strawberries from farmers for each pound they sell at retail. Using this adjusted volume, the farm share of the retail price—the ratio of what farmers receive to what consumers pay per pound in grocery stores—was 53 percent in 2023. More information on ERS farm share data can be found in the Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer data product, updated February 27, 2024.

USDA forecasts $4 billion in conservation program payments in 2024

Monday, April 22, 2024

USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) forecasts direct Federal payments for conservation programs for 2024 to increase by 10 percent, more than $363 million in inflation-adjusted terms, to $4 billion. This increase primarily is due to expected payments from the Inflation Reduction Act used to support various conservation programs. The act allocated $19.5 billion to support USDA conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and the Conservation Technical Assistance Program. Among this allocation is also the fund dedicated to measure, evaluate, quantify carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission reductions from conservation investments. These programs are aimed at helping farmers and ranchers expand conservation practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase storage of carbon in soil and trees. Conservation payments include programs under the management of the USDA, Farm Service Agency, such as the Conservation Reserve Program, as well as the USDA, Natural Resources and Conservation Service. ERS tracks Government payments made directly from the U.S. Government to farm sector recipients such as farm and ranch operators, contractors, and nonoperator landlords. The term “direct” emphasizes that there are no intermediaries acting between the U.S. Government and farm sector recipients, so insurance indemnities are excluded. The forecast conservation payments are in line with the 27-year average from 1996 through 2022 of $4.1 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars. However, despite the increase, forecast 2024 levels—if realized—are below the record for highest conservation payments of more than $5 billion in 2011. This chart is drawn from the ERS Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product.

Crop acreage managed under mix of owner operation and lease agreements

Thursday, April 18, 2024

The proportion of farmland managed under a lease agreement and land that is managed by owner-operators varies across crops, according to data collected from Agricultural Resource Management Surveys (ARMS). Owner-operators farmed close to half of U.S. corn, soybean, and barley acres but roughly a third of sorghum and cotton acres. While both cotton and sorghum acreage were roughly evenly split among owner-operated, cash-rent, and share-rent agreements, share-rented farmland had a lower proportion of corn, soybean, and barley acreage. Cash contracts are those in which the tenant pays a fixed rent and provides both inputs and management, and share-based contracts are those in which the landlord and tenant split costs and revenues. Other agreements, such as hybrid arrangements, make up less than 1 percent of crops based on planted acreage in the survey year. Researchers with USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) examined information supplied by farmers from ARMS across various crops to find that the overall trend in the farmland market favors cash-rented farmland. More information on land leasing can be found in the ERS report Farmland Rental and Conservation Practice Adoption, published in March 2024.

California’s olive processing industry shifts from canning to crushing

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The turn of the century marked a shift in California’s olive industry. Historically, the State’s olive industry—which accounts for about 84 percent of olive acreage in the United States—was synonymous with canned olive production. Between 1980 and 2000, about 90 percent of California’s production was used for canned olives, most of which were of the black-ripe variety. California black-ripe olives are harvested green, before full maturity, and turn black from oxidation during processing. These shiny black-ripe olives are commonly sold as whole pitted or sliced canned products at retail or food service, where they often are used as pizza or salad toppings. Since the mid-2000s, the share of California’s olive production used to make olive oil has grown rapidly, from 10 percent in 2005 to more than 75 percent in 2022. This shift has been driven by increases in labor costs and import competition, as well as technological advancements that have made harvesting new olive oil-type cultivars comparatively quicker and less expensive. California olive oil production rose from 2 million pounds in 2006 to an average of 21 million pounds in 2021–23. Despite this increase in U.S. olive oil production, imports still supply more than 98 percent of the domestic consumption. This chart is based on the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released March 2024.

2022 Census of Agriculture: Cover crop use continues to be most common in eastern United States

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

U.S. cropland area planted to cover crops increased 17 percent between 2017 and 2022, from 15,390,674 acres to 17,985,831 acres, data from the recently released Census of Agriculture show. That means cover crops were planted on 4.7 percent of total cropland in 2022. Producers often use cover crops to provide living, seasonal soil cover between the planting of two cash (commodity) or forage crops. Including cover crops in a rotation can provide benefits such as improved soil health and water quality, weed suppression, and reduced soil erosion. Regional differences in the use of cover crops are related to factors such as climate, soils, cropping systems, and State incentive programs. For example, Maryland, which has the highest rate of cover crop use, has programs that encourage farmers to grow cover crops to help improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Cover cropping is more common in the southern and eastern parts of the U.S. because of soil and climate conditions, among other factors. It is more difficult to establish and grow cover crops in regions that are colder, receive less precipitation, and have a shorter growing season, so the western and northern parts of the United States have lower rates of cover crop use. One of the States with the greatest increase in cover crop acres as a proportion of total cropland from 2017 to 2022 was Texas, which also had the largest absolute increase in cover crop acreage. Cover crop acreage in Texas increased more than 50 percent (from 1,014,145 acres in 2017 to 1,550,789 acres in 2022). Cover crop use decreased in 2022 in some eastern States (Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Kentucky). For more information about factors affecting U.S. cover crop adoption, see the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) report Cover Crop Trends, Programs, and Practices in the United States, published in February 2021. See also these ERS Charts of Note: Cover crop mixes account for 18 to 25 percent of major commodity acreage with cover crops, published in December 2022, and More farmers are adding fall cover crops to their corn-for-grain, cotton, and soybean fields, published in May 2022. For more Census of Agriculture data, see the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service’s 2022 Census of Agriculture.

Retail food price inflation varied across U.S. metro areas in 2023

Monday, April 15, 2024

Retail food price inflation varies by locality. In 2023, food-at-home (grocery) prices rose the fastest in Houston, TX, by 7.8 percent, followed by Boston, MA, at 7.0 percent. In contrast, food-at-home prices declined by 1.3 percent in 2023 in Anchorage, AK, and rose by the lowest amount (1.7 percent) in Honolulu, HI. Across the United States, food-at-home prices increased by 5.0 percent on average in 2023. Differences in retail overhead expenses, such as labor and rent, can explain some of the variation among cities, because retailers often pass local cost increases to consumers in the form of higher prices. Furthermore, differences in consumer purchasing patterns for specific foods may help explain variation in inflation rates among cities. Products that consumers purchase vary regionally, and each metro area’s inflation rate is calculated based on a representative set of foods unique to the area. For example, an area whose residents purchase more foods with slower price inflation (such as fresh fruits and vegetables at 0.7 and 0.9 percent average growth in 2023, respectively) might experience lower food-at-home price inflation than an area whose residents buy more cereals and bakery products or nonalcoholic beverages, which increased by 8.4 percent and 7.0 percent, respectively, in 2023. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service Food Price Environment: Interactive Visualization, last updated in February 2024, which presents the 10-year average change in prices by metro area and provides context for the Food Price Outlook data product.

Seafood consumption per capita drifts higher in the United States

Thursday, April 11, 2024

U.S. residents consumed an average of 20.5 pounds of seafood— finfish and shellfish—per capita in 2021. The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Office of Science and Technology publishes annual consumption estimates for seafood produced through aquaculture and captive fisheries, domestically as well as those imported from other countries. Over the last three decades, demand for farm-raised and wild-caught seafood has expanded as consumers’ tastes and preference for finfish and shellfish have increased. Per capita seafood consumption grew 30 percent in this period, led by fresh and frozen seafood. Growth in fresh and frozen seafood consumption per capita climbed from about 63 percent in 1990 to almost 80 percent in 2021. In contrast, per capita consumption of canned seafood has declined from a 35-percent share in 1990 to an 18-percent share of the total seafood consumed nationwide in 2021. Cured seafood consumption remained constant throughout the period of observation. According to NOAA, about 80 percent of all seafood consumed in the United States is estimated to come from imported products. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service Aquaculture topic page.

Farmland renters and owner-operators use similar levels of tillage intensity

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers investigated whether tillage practices were different between farmers who were renters or farmers who owned the land. Farming systems that decrease soil disturbance and preserve more crop residue than conventional tillage may improve the soil, but these practices have upfront costs (in new machinery, for instance), and any soil health benefits captured by the operator may be delayed into the future, perhaps until after a new renter has taken over the land. For this reason, renters may be less inclined to adopt tillage practices that decrease soil disturbance. Researchers examined tillage practices as measured by the Soil Tillage Intensity Rating (STIR) values for five major crops (corn, soybeans, cotton, barley, and sorghum). STIR values are determined by the operational speed of tillage equipment, tillage type, depth of the tillage operation, and degree of disturbance of the soil surface. STIR values range from zero to 200, with lower values indicating less soil disturbance. Over the two survey years specific for each, both crop owner-operators and renters generally showed reductions in STIR values. For instance, on sorghum acres, the estimated average STIR value of owner-operators was 55 in 2011 and 48 in 2019. Both cash and share renters also reported engaging in practices that led STIR values to fall, with values by cash renters falling the most. Researchers found that all three groups exhibited similar rates of tillage intensity, indicating that they are responding to economic incentives presented by reduced tillage systems similarly. This can be attributed to the fact that although soil health benefits may only be seen in the medium-to-long term, reducing soil disturbance can result in time and energy savings immediately. This chart can be found in the ERS report Farmland Rental and Conservation Practice Adoption, published in March 2024.

Infant formula market was more concentrated before WIC rebate contracts for formula

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

State agencies that administer USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) use competitive, single-source contracts to reduce the cost of infant formula. These contracts provide significant discounts in the form of manufacturer rebates for each can of formula purchased through WIC. Infants who receive formula through WIC consume more than half of all infant formula in the United States. The manufacturer holding the WIC contract in a State sells the most infant formula in that State, including to consumers not participating in WIC. The infant formula market is highly concentrated. However, comparing market shares over time indicates that the market has become less concentrated. In 1987, the year of the first rebate contract and 2 years before Federal law required that WIC State agencies use cost containment systems, three manufacturers accounted for 99 percent of sales of infant formula in the United States. In 2022, three manufacturers accounted for 83 percent of sales of infant formula. In addition to WIC contracts with manufacturers, other factors influence infant formula market concentration, such as regulation of formula manufactured inside the United States and import restrictions on formula manufactured outside the United States. Entrances and exits of manufacturers and changes in their market shares over time suggest these factors impact firms differently. This chart appears in the USDA, Economic Research Service report The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Background, Trends, and Economic Issues, 2024 Edition, published in February 2024.