Editor's Pick 2014: Best of Charts of Note

This chart gallery is a collection of the best Charts of Note from 2014. These charts were selected by ERS editors as those worthy of a second read because they provide context for the year’s headlines or share key insights from ERS research.


Editor's Pick 2014, #9:<br>Direct government payments to producers as a share of gross cash farm income (GCFI) have fallen in recent years

GCFI (cash income to farm operations before accounting for expenses) comes from a number of different sources, including sales of crops and livestock, income generated through farm and equipment services to other operators, use of farmland for recreational activities, sales of forest products, crop insurance indemnities, and other farm-related income. Many producers also receive government payments from a variety of Federal farm programs. The share of government payments in total GCFI has varied widely over time, reflecting the effects of variable weather and prices, as well as changes in farm programs, on the sources of farm income. The share has been historically low in recent years, as relatively high commodity prices have reduced price-triggered payments. Government payments in this chart include only payments made directly to producers, and thus do not reflect government support of Federal crop insurance, which has played an increasing role in farm risk management? Producers participate in Federal crop insurance through private crop insurance companies, with the Federal Government covering a portion of the crop insurance premiums and other costs associated with providing this insurance. For more information, see the?Farm & Commodity Policy?topic page.

Editor's Pick 2014, #8:<br>An aging rural veteran population declined over the last 20 years

Nearly 4 million veterans resided in rural (nonmetropolitan) America in 2012. They are a rapidly aging and increasingly diverse group of men and women who comprise over 10 percent of the rural adult population despite their persistently declining numbers; the number of veterans living in rural areas declined from 6.6 million in 1992 to 3.8 million in 2012. A drop in the size of the active military population since 1990, from 3 million to roughly 1.4 million, and natural decrease due to aging (over half of rural veterans were age 65 or older in 2012, compared to 18 percent of the nonveteran rural population) means the downward trend in the number of rural veterans will likely continue for many years. Whether due to their military service or because of their age profile, over 20 percent of rural, working-age veterans report disability status compared with 11 percent of nonveterans. Taken together, their older age and higher incidence of disabilities make the well-being of rural veterans, as a group, increasingly dependent on access to medical care in rural areas. This chart comes from Rural Veterans at a Glance, EB-25, November 2013. Originally published Monday November 10, 2014.

Editor's Pick 2014, #10:<br>Family farms dominate U.S. agriculture

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. Originally published on Wednesday October 15, 2014.

Editor's Pick 2014, #6:<br>Rural Hispanic population growth mirrors national trends

Between 1990 and 2013, the Hispanic population in the United States (including both foreign and U.S. born) increased from 22.4 million to 54.1 million, growing 142 percent compared with 16 percent for the non-Hispanic population for the same period. Prior to 1990, growth of the Hispanic population was concentrated in larger cities and in relatively few States, mostly in the Southwest. The rural (nonmetro) Hispanic population grew at less than half the rate seen in urban (metro) areas during the 1980s?2.2 percent per year compared with 4.5 percent. ?Since 1990, however, growth in the Hispanic population has been widespread, occurring in metropolitan and rural communities in every region of the country; average annual population growth rates have been identical for metro and nonmetro Hispanic populations since 2000. However, both rural and urban areas have experienced lower rates of growth among Hispanics since the recession, due in part to a decline in immigration. Rural population growth remains above 2 percent per year for Hispanics, in marked contrast to population decline among non-Hispanic populations, averaging -0.2 percent per year since 2010. This chart updates one found in the ERS newsroom feature, Immigration and the Rural Workforce. Originally published Thursday October 2, 2014.

Editor's Pick 2014, #4:<br>Americans consume more than double the recommended maximum of added sugars

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. Originally published Friday October 10, 2014.