ERS works with universities, other Federal Government Agencies, and others to educate students and improve the coordination and production of statistics across the U.S. Government. 

Distance Learning Program

The Distance Learning Program links ERS with minority-serving universities and their students to enhance the instruction, understanding, and discussion of food and agricultural policy. Each semester, ERS researchers give presentations on timely and policy-relevant topics that broadly cover issues pertaining to food and agricultural policy. The presentations are delivered directly to the classrooms of participating institutions using interactive, real-time technologies. Students interact with ERS researchers by asking questions during the presentation and by giving their own presentations.

Strengthening Statistics Through ICARS

This compendium of data is supported by the Interagency Council on Agricultural and Rural Statistics (ICARS). ICARS is the effort of the U.S. Federal Government’s statistical agencies in support of the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics, which was developed under the United Nations Statistical Commission. The impetus for the Global Strategy was the recognition that agriculture and rural statistics are declining across the globe at the same time as new data requirements are emerging.

ICARS was established in 2010 with approval from the Office of Management and Budget’s Interagency Council on Statistical Policy. ICARS brings together experts from economic, demographic, environmental, and agricultural statistical agencies and from natural resource agencies to improve the coordination and production of national statistics related to agriculture, food, natural resource, and rural data.

Fostering a Diverse Workforce with AAEA

ERS launched a 5-year partnership with the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) to help diversify the field of agricultural and applied economics in 2022. By expanding the number of students from underrepresented groups pursuing advanced degrees and careers in agricultural economics, both organizations aim to diversify, support and retain a new generation of skilled professionals more representative of today’s society.

Improving Equitable Healthy Food Access with RWJF

In March 2023, ERS and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced $1.4 million in new research aimed at improving equitable access to healthy food. With this funding, provided by the foundation, 11 research institutions have the opportunity to leverage restricted data from USDA’s Consumer Food Data System to expand research on food policy, food retail markets, consumer behaviors related to food purchases and diet and USDA’s nutrition assistance programs. This research will be completed by February 2025.