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More than half of all food-insecure households work full time

Thursday, December 7, 2023

In 2022, over half of all food-insecure households in the United States had one or more adult members employed full time. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) monitors the prevalence of U.S. household food insecurity through an annual survey and provides information about the characteristics of food-insecure households, including their employment status. The employment status for each household is measured using the combined employment status of all adult household members. In 2022, households with adults employed full-time made up the largest share of food-insecure households at 55 percent, a share that has remained stable since 2017. Households with one or more adults employed part time because it was the only job available (called part time for economic reasons) comprised the smallest share of food-insecure households at 2 percent. The remaining food-insecure households had one or more adults who were retired, employed part time for non-economic reasons, unemployed, disabled, or not in the labor force. An interactive visualization and the underlying downloadable data for prevalence, severity (low and very low food security), and distribution of food insecurity by household employment status can be found on the ERS Interactive Charts and Highlights page.

Food services continue to claim largest share of U.S. food dollars

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

In 2022, more than a third of U.S. dollars spent on domestically produced food went to foodservice establishments, which includes restaurants and other food-away-from-home outlets. At 34.1 cents per food dollar in 2022, the foodservice share increased 1.6 cents from 2021 to reach its highest value in the USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Food Dollar Series. Industry groups add value by transforming the inputs they purchase from other industry groups and selling their output at higher prices. For instance, foodservice establishments prepare meals using food bought from distributors, such as those in the wholesale trade industry group, and utilities, such as gas and electricity bought from establishments in the energy industry group. Prices paid by customers include the value added by the restaurant itself plus the cumulative value added by all establishments before the restaurant. Annual shifts in the food dollar shares among industry groups occur for a variety of reasons, including changes in the mix of foods consumers buy, costs of materials, ingredients, and other inputs, as well as changes in the balance of food at home and away from home. The industry group shares food dollar data are available for 1993 to 2022 in the USDA, ERS Food Dollar Series data product, updated November 15, 2023.

Warming temperatures in U.S. Corn Belt expected to continue into next decade

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

According to weather data from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), temperatures in the Corn Belt, a region spanning across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, have trended higher in recent years and are projected to continue to rise through the end of this century. Two measures can be used to capture how rising temperatures affect crops’ growth—growing degree days and extreme degree days. Growing degree days describe the beneficial temperatures in a day that allow a plant to grow and mature. With rising temperatures, the growing degree days for corn and soybeans increase. A crop’s exposure to added growing degree days is not necessarily harmful; after all, crops need heat and precipitation to grow. However, extreme degree days, which refer to temperatures throughout the day in excess of 30 °C (86 °F), cause heat stress that is harmful for a plant. Each decade since 1992, both growing degree days and extreme degree days have steadily increased with rising temperatures in the Corn Belt, where about 80 percent of all U.S. corn and soybeans are grown. In the decade leading to 2032, both measures are projected to continue to increase. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service report, Estimating Market Implications From Corn and Soybean Yields Under Climate Change in the United States, published in October 2023.

ReConnect aims to improve broadband availability in rural areas

Monday, December 4, 2023

The ReConnect Program is USDA’s largest effort aimed at filling gaps in high-speed internet in unserved and underserved rural areas. The program was created on a pilot basis in 2018 and appropriated more than $5 billion between fiscal years 2018 and 2023. Its grants and loans provide funds that help the private sector provide broadband service to rural areas, which otherwise may not be profitable to reach. ReConnect reached an estimated 21 percent of the eligible rural population in its first two funding rounds, which involved applications submitted in FY 2019 and 2020. Applicants had to propose to provide a minimum broadband speed to all residences, businesses, and farms in proposed areas (25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload during the first two funding rounds). Most applicants were small telecommunications companies or cooperatives. Researchers with the USDA’s Economic Research Service examined proposed and approved projects from the applications submitted in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 to find that about 57 percent of proposed projects were funded. The most common reasons that applications were not approved were that broadband service was already available in the proposed service area, lack of financial feasibility of the proposal, and missing or insufficient information. This chart appears in the ERS report Three USDA Rural Broadband Programs: Areas and Populations Served, published in October 2023.

Farm sector profits forecast to fall in 2023 from record highs in 2022

Thursday, November 30, 2023

The USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) forecasts inflation-adjusted U.S. net cash farm income (NCFI) to decrease by $49.2 billion (23.8 percent) from 2022 to $157.9 billion in 2023. Similarly, U.S. net farm income (NFI) is forecast to fall by $37.9 billion (20.0 percent) from 2022 to $151.1 billion in 2023. NCFI is calculated as gross cash income minus cash expenses. NFI is a broader measure of farm sector profitability that incorporates noncash items including changes in inventories, economic depreciation, and gross imputed rental income. The projected decreases in 2023 come after both NCFI and NFI reached all-time highs in 2022 of $207.1 billion and $188.9 billion, respectively. For 2023, cash receipts for farm commodities are projected to fall by $43.0 billion (7.8 percent) from 2022 to $509.6 billion in 2023. This includes forecasted declines in milk, corn, and broiler receipts. Total production expenses are expected to remain relatively stable in 2022, increasing by $0.6 billion (0.1 percent) to $443.4 billion in 2023. However, individual expense items are expected to vary, with interest expenses forecast to increase in 2023, while spending on fertilizer/lime/soil conditioner and feed is expected to decrease. Finally, direct Government payments to farmers are forecast to fall $4.0 billion (24.8 percent) lower in 2023 to $12.1 billion because of lower supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance. Find additional information and analysis on the ERS topic page Highlights from the Farm Income Forecast, reflecting data released on November 30, 2023.

Pork exports to China surged as African swine fever curtailed China’s pork output

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The 2018 spread of African swine fever (ASF) to China had reverberations in the global pork market. ASF—a virus often fatal to swine—caused an estimated loss of 27.9 million metric tons in China’s pork output from late 2018 to early 2021 and led to a doubling of China’s domestic pork prices. These high prices attracted a surge of pork exports from four major suppliers—the European Union (EU), United States, Brazil, and Canada. While the EU was the top supplier, U.S. pork exports were sizable and reached a record high of more than 287,000 metric tons in the second quarter of 2020. After surging, exports by all suppliers began declining during 2021 as China’s domestic production rebounded and associated prices plummeted. According to a recent report from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), pork exports to China might have increased even more during the ASF outbreak if not for several factors. Specifically, China banned pork from some EU countries that also had ASF outbreaks. In addition, U.S. pork faced high retaliatory tariffs because of trade tensions, and China rejected some Canadian pork shipments. Also, during the COVID-19 pandemic, China launched stringent inspections of foreign meat suppliers and required decontamination of meat at Chinese ports. In aggregate, pork imports replaced about an estimated one-fifth of the domestic pork supplies lost in China during the ASF epidemic. Official data indicate that China’s pork production returned to its pre-ASF level in 2021. While exports to China are down from their peak, China is still one of the top 3 overseas markets for U.S. pork, with sales in the first 6 months of 2023 exceeding annual totals posted in years before ASF hit China. This chart first appeared in the ERS report How China’s African Swine Fever Outbreaks Affected Global Pork Markets, published November 2023.

The most popular eating times in the United States are 12 noon and 6 p.m.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Throughout an average day in 2022, individuals aged 15 and older exhibit two distinct peak time blocks for primary eating and drinking—between 12 noon and 12:59 p.m. and from 6 to 6:59 p.m. About 3 in 10 individuals engaged in primary eating and drinking during each of these periods. While some people prefer to eat and drink while not doing anything else (primary eating and drinking), others opt for grazing while multitasking (secondary eating). Notably, between 9 a.m. and 9:59 p.m., at least 5 percent of U.S. residents participated in secondary eating each hour in 2022. The top five concurrent activities during secondary eating included watching television and movies, paid work, socializing with others, playing games, and food and drink preparation. Examining the eating patterns of the U.S. population is key to better understanding the determinants of dietary intake and diet-related health status. This data and chart come from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Eating and Health Module (ATUS) data product, which is part of the nationally representative American Time Use Survey.

Growth rate of global agricultural output has slowed

Monday, November 27, 2023

In the last decade, world agricultural output grew at an average annual rate of 1.94 percent per year, far slower than the 2.74-percent output growth rate over the previous decade and below the average annual rate of 2.3 percent over the last six decades (1961–2021). The slowdown in agricultural growth was primarily tied to a slowing rate of growth in agricultural total factor productivity (TFP), which fell to 1.14 percent per year in 2011–2021 (compared with 1.93 percent per year the previous decade). TFP measures the amount of agricultural output produced from the aggregated inputs used in the production process (land, labor, capital, and material resources). The figure shows four major sources of overall growth: bringing more land into production (holding yields fixed); extending irrigation to land; intensifying the use of capital, labor, and material inputs per unit of land; and improving TFP, which reflects the rate of technological and efficiency improvements of inputs. This data can be found in the ERS International Agricultural Productivity data product, updated in September 2023.

U.S. cranberry production down 5 percent in 2023 forecast

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

U.S. cranberries are harvested in autumn, just in time for the holiday season. The 2023 U.S. cranberry crop is forecast to be 7.62 million barrels, down 5.4 percent from the previous year, but equal to the 2020–22 average. The top-producing State, Wisconsin, typically harvests around 60 percent of the annual U.S. cranberry crop. In 2023, Wisconsin cranberry production is forecast to be 4.6 million barrels, down 5 percent from 2022. In the most recent growing season, Wisconsin experienced challenging weather, from record snowfall in April to statewide drought in July. Similarly, Massachusetts—the second-largest producing State—experienced weather-related challenges including a cold, frosty spring and excessive precipitation during the summer bloom. Consequently, production for Massachusetts, which typically accounts for around one quarter of the U.S. cranberry crop, is forecast to decline 11.5 percent from last year to 2 million barrels. Similarly, New Jersey’s 2023 cranberry forecast is expected to be about 550,000 barrels, a slight 2-percent decrease from the 2020–22 average on the basis of atypically hot summer temperatures in the State. Unlike the top three States, which are set to experience production declines in 2023, the fourth-largest cranberry producing State, Oregon, is forecast to see production rise by 17.5 percent from 2022 to 470,000 barrels. This chart is based on the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released September 2023.

Most States with high net farm income saw growth in 2022

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The United States saw growth of 30.7 percent in net farm income (NFI) from 2021 to 2022. NFI is a broad measure of farm sector profitability that incorporates noncash items such as depreciation and gross imputed rental income. Researchers with USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) used data in the Farm Income and Wealth Statistics to classify States into six categories based on 2022 NFI. Among the 5 agricultural States with the highest NFI, Texas had the highest NFI growth at 64.9 percent from 2021 to 2022, followed by Minnesota with 55.7 percent. Growth in the remaining top five States (California, Iowa, and Illinois) also was strong. Other States among the top 25 for average NFI had a wide range of NFI change from 2021 to 2022. Many showed strong growth, such as Idaho (116.4 percent), Georgia (103.7 percent), Florida (100.2 percent), and North Dakota (75.7 percent). However, NFI in Kansas and Washington fell 22.7 percent and 27.5 percent, respectively. Find additional information and analysis on the ERS topic page for Farm Economy.

Lower prices for apples, butter, and eggs slice the cost of a Thanksgiving pie in 2023

Monday, November 20, 2023

U.S. consumers baking a homemade apple pie for Thanksgiving this year can expect to pay about $8.15 for the ingredients, a decrease of 7.0 percent from last year. Price increases for flour, sugar, and lemon juice were offset by lower prices for apples, butter, and eggs, leading to a $0.61 decrease in the cost of a pie between 2022 and 2023. The price of the main ingredient, Granny Smith apples, fell 7.5 percent from $1.52 per pound in October 2022 to $1.41 per pound in October 2023. Prices decreased the most for eggs (38.6 percent), followed by butter (6.2 percent), between October 2022 and October 2023. Prices increased the most for lemons (20.0 percent) and sugar (16.0 percent), though those ingredients contribute only a small share to the total cost of a pie. If serving the apple pie à la mode, ice cream adds an additional $0.38 per scoop, an increase of $0.02 from last year. The most recent average price data are from October, meaning prices for Thanksgiving week may vary. For example, savings may occur if grocers offer holiday discounts. USDA, Economic Research Service tracks aggregate food category prices and publishes price forecasts in the monthly Food Price Outlook data product, which will next be updated on November 22, 2023.

In rural areas, population gains from net migration have exceeded losses from natural decrease

Thursday, November 16, 2023

The rural (nonmetro) population growth that began with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020 continued into 2022, according to census population estimates. A sharp increase in net migration (the number of people moving in minus the number of people moving out) was the source of the growth. Migration to rural areas was 0.47 percent and 0.45 percent in 2020–21 and 2021–22, respectively, compared with 0.01 percent in the period before the pandemic. Overall, the rural population grew at 0.12 percent from mid-2021 through mid-2022 after accounting for the 0.33-percent decline caused by natural decrease (more deaths than births) in the same period. For rural areas, this recent growth is a reversal of population loss and near-zero migration in 2019–20 and comes after annual rural growth rates declined or were near zero in the previous 10 years. The population in metro areas followed a different trend in 2019–20 and 2020–21, dropping from 0.42 to 0.16 percent growth before returning to 0.42 percent in 2021–22. Roughly 46 million U.S. residents lived in rural areas in July 2022, making up 13.8 percent of the population. This chart is drawn from the ERS report Rural America at a Glance, published in November 2023.

Farm share of U.S. food dollar dipped below 15 cents in 2022

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

U.S. farm establishments received 14.9 cents per dollar spent on domestically produced food in 2022 as compensation for farm commodity production. This portion, called the farm share, is a decrease of 0.3 cents from a revised 15.2 cents in 2021. The farm share covers operating expenses as well as input costs from nonfarm establishments. The remaining portion of the food dollar, known as the marketing share, covers the costs of getting domestically produced food from farms to points of purchase, including costs related to transporting, processing, and selling to consumers. One of the factors behind the long-term downward trend in the farm share is an increasing proportion of food-away-from-home spending. Farm establishments receive a lower portion of dollars spent on food away from home because of the added costs of preparing and serving meals. The USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) uses input-output analysis to calculate the farm and marketing shares of a food dollar, which is an average of all domestic expenditures on U.S. food. The data for this chart can be found in the ERS Food Dollar Series data product, updated November 15, 2023.

Almond, hazelnut, and walnut prices fall to lowest levels in decades

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

In 2022, tree nut prices fell to their lowest levels in at least two decades. Prices after adjusting for inflation, called real prices, were $1.10 per pound for almonds, $0.51 for hazelnuts, and $0.25 for walnuts. The last time real almond and hazelnut prices were this low was at the turn of the 21st century. Walnut (real) prices are at an all-time low, according to data from the USDA, Economic Research Service. Prior to 2020, the lowest real walnut price recorded was $0.58 per pound in 1999. In 2022, walnut prices were less than half of the previous record low and 14 percent of the high observed in 2013 ($1.82 per pound). Low prices have affected walnut producers’ production decisions. In September 2023, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service forecast that 2023 would be the first year since 1999 that walnut-bearing acreage decreased. Acreage in California, the country’s leading walnut producer, was estimated to have dropped from 400,000 acres in 2022 to 385,000 acres in 2023 and was revised further downward to 375,000 acres in October 2023. Producers have not reduced bearing acreage for almonds or hazelnuts, but prices have decreased since 2014. The decision to reduce acreage stems not only from grower prices but also from a series of conditions growers face that include weather, prices of inputs, and competition from other exporting countries. This chart was drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released September 2023.

Feeding the world: Global food production per person has grown over time

Monday, November 13, 2023

From 1990 through 2019, the calories available to consume per person increased 13 percent on average. The largest changes among the United States, Brazil, China, and India from 1990 to 2019 were in Brazil and China, with daily per capita food available for consumption increasing by 530 calories per person in Brazil and 840 calories in China (20 and 34 percent respectively). China was below the world average food consumption per person in 1990 but above the world average in 2019. The amount of different food types consumed in an individual country depends on income and culture, especially for animal products. Per capita consumption of animal products grew rapidly in Brazil and China but was still below the U.S. level in 2019. Per capita calorie consumption in India was lower than the world average in both 1990 and 2019. This chart appears in the USDA, Economic Research Service report Scenarios of Global Food Consumption: Implications for Agriculture published in September 2023.

People 15 and older in the United States spent an average of 85 minutes per day eating and drinking in 2022

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

On an average day in 2022, individuals 15 and older spent 68.5 minutes engaged in eating and drinking as a “primary,” or main, activity. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) sponsors and maintains data on time spent eating and drinking for the Eating and Health Module, a supplement to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey (ATUS). Information about the time and location U.S. residents spend eating and drinking can offer valuable insights into how nutrition and health outcomes vary over time and can inform the design of food assistance and nutrition policies and programs. ERS researchers found that respondents devoted an extra 16.4 minutes to eating as a secondary activity, which means eating while doing something else, such as watching television, working, socializing, playing games, or preparing meals. In 2022, the top two places for primary eating and drinking and secondary eating were “own home or yard” and “workplace.” Overall, individuals in the United States aged 15 and older allocated 85 minutes to both primary eating and drinking and secondary eating on an average day in 2022. This is a modest increase of about 4 minutes compared with the survey data from 2016. This data and chart come from the ERS Eating and Health Module (ATUS) data product, which is part of the nationally representative ATUS.

Most U.S. butter and cheese is consumed domestically, while most dry skim milk products are exported

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The United States is a large producer and exporter of dairy products. Some dairy products are exported more than others. Exports-to-production ratios, which indicate the share of total U.S. production destined for export each year, show that U.S. dry skim milk products are increasingly exported. In 2022, U.S. exports of dry skim milk products (nonfat dry milk, skim milk powder, and dry skim milk for animal use) were equivalent to 69 percent of production by volume. Since 2000, the exports-to-production ratio of dry skim milk products has increased, more than tripling from 2000 to 2022. By contrast, U.S.-produced cheese and butter mostly are kept for use in domestic markets. Though the exports-to-production ratios of butter and cheese also have trended upward, U.S. exports of butter equated to less than 9 percent of 2022 production, and exports of cheese were equivalent to about 7 percent of production. Differences between exports of butter and cheese and exports of dry milk products partly can be explained by shelf stability and ease of transport. Dry skim milk products are much easier to ship internationally and have a lower risk of spoilage than fresh and/or refrigerated dairy products. Although relatively low proportions of U.S. cheese are exported, in 2022 the United States was the second largest exporter of cheese by value worldwide, with total cheese exports estimated at nearly $2.3 billion. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report U.S. Trade Performance and Position in Global Meat, Poultry, and Dairy Exports published in April 2023.

West Virginia has highest share of people living in rugged terrain

Monday, November 6, 2023

USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers analyzed the share of each State’s population living in rugged terrain using the Road Ruggedness Scale, a five-category measure created by ERS that classifies census tracts based on elevation changes along roads. They found that in 2010, West Virginia led the Nation with 80.7 percent of its population living in areas classified as either slightly, moderately, or highly rugged. It was followed by Vermont (51.6 percent), Hawaii (43.3 percent), Pennsylvania (39.3 percent), and Washington State (38.0 percent). In 19 States and the District of Columbia, a greater share of residents lived in slightly to highly rugged census tracts than for the Nation as a whole (11.6 percent). For most States near the top of the list, a large share of residents lived in highly rugged census tracts (the highest ruggedness category), notably West Virginia, Hawaii, Oregon, and Montana. However, despite having no highly rugged census tracts, Vermont and Connecticut still have enough residents in slightly and moderately rugged census tracts to be among the top 10 States with the highest population shares in rugged areas. While topographic variation, or “ruggedness,” is visually appealing and may spur economic growth, it can also make it more difficult to navigate land and waterways and limits space for residential and commercial expansion. Residents living in areas with rugged terrain may also require more time to travel to hospitals, schools, social services, grocery stores, and other critical destinations compared with those living in less rugged locations. This chart is drawn from data in the ERS report Characterizing Rugged Terrain in the United States, published in August 2023.

Turkey prices falling in time for holiday season

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Just in time for the 2023 holiday season, wholesale prices of whole frozen turkeys are declining. Prices for frozen whole hens—the birds typically served for holiday dinners—averaged $1.27 per pound in August 2023. Prices dropped further to $1.25 per pound in September, down 43 cents from a year earlier, and the lowest monthly average price since July of 2021. The price reprieve comes after an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in 2022 resulted in major losses for the commercial turkey flock. Turkey production fell 6 percent to 5.222 billion pounds in 2022, down from about 5.558 billion in 2021, and prices rose to historic highs. The outbreak persisted for more than a year, winding down in April 2023. Even as the outbreak continued in the spring, turkey production had already begun to recover from the mid-2022 low point, when depopulation resulted in sharply lower turkey numbers. Since April 2023, production has been above the previous year’s levels, partly because birds were being slaughtered at heavier weights. Detections of HPAI in commercial turkey flocks in early October 2023 are not expected to have a major effect on the availability of turkeys in the 2023 holiday season. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, September 2023.

Uphill climb: The share of rural residents living in low-income areas increases with road ruggedness

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

In 2010, a higher share of rural residents lived in low-income census tracts, especially in places characterized by rugged terrain. Researchers with USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) classified census tracts (the small geographic areas used to collect population data) by the change in elevation along their roads to create the new Road Ruggedness Scale. Using this scale in conjunction with data on income and how rural a place is, they found that as ruggedness increased, the share of rural residents living in low-income census tracts increased. In contrast, the share of residents in low-income census tracts in urbanized areas decreased as ruggedness increased. Nearly 60 percent of residents in highly rugged rural locations lived in low-income census tracts in 2010, compared with 42 to 48 percent of rural residents in less rugged census tracts. However, fewer than 20 percent of residents in highly rugged, urbanized areas lived in low-income census tracts, compared with nearly 42 percent of urbanized area residents in level census tracts. In urban commuting locations, the share of the population living in low-income census tracts generally increased with ruggedness, but with more variation in the trend. This chart appears in the ERS report Characterizing Rugged Terrain in the United States published in August 2023 and uses data available in ERS’s Ruggedness Scale data product.