ERS Charts of Note
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Thursday, July 7, 2022
To understand how the availability of health care for self-employed workers in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas has changed over time, researchers at USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) examined the average rate of doctors with medical degrees (not with osteopathic degrees) per 10,000 people. In this chart, they focused on differences between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties with high and low rates of self-employment. The researchers found that between 1960 and 2017, doctors have been far more available in metropolitan counties with low self-employment rates than in other counties. They also found that doctors have been the least available in nonmetropolitan counties with high self-employment rates. The largest gap in doctor availability existed between these two groups: in 2017, there was an average of 23 doctors per 10,000 residents in low self-employment metropolitan counties versus 7 doctors in high self-employment nonmetropolitan counties. However, the average rates of doctors and trends in those rates have changed over time. Between 1970 and 2000, the average rate of doctors increased in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties. But since 2000, the average rate of doctors started to decrease in nonmetropolitan counties. By 2017, the average rate of doctors in low self-employment nonmetropolitan counties fell below the rate in high self-employment metropolitan counties. Thus, people living in nonmetropolitan counties, particularly those with a higher proportion of self-employed workers, generally had less access to doctors. A version of this chart appears in the ERS publication Health Care Access Among Self-Employed Workers in Nonmetropolitan Counties, published May 2022.
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
The farm share of the retail price of fresh, field-grown tomatoes—the ratio of what farmers received to what consumers paid per pound in grocery stores—fell from 43 percent in 2020 to 36 percent in 2021. While the national, monthly average price of such tomatoes at grocery stores fell 11 cents to $1.85 per pound in 2021, the monthly average price received by farmers simultaneously fell 16 cents to $0.56 per pound. As part of calculating the farm share, the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) assumes that farmers supply a little less than 1.2 pounds of fresh tomatoes for each pound sold at retail, as 15 percent of the fresh tomatoes shipped to grocery stores is lost through spoilage or is otherwise damaged. Farm prices for tomatoes were lower in 2021 as U.S. domestic production of all types of fresh-market tomatoes rose 1.3 percent. This came despite a 4-percent decline in overall fresh vegetable production caused partly by extreme heat in growing regions. More information on ERS’s farm share data can be found in the Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer data product, updated June 3, 2022.
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
The return of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in 2022 has affected poultry sectors, including commercial flocks of broilers (chickens raised for meat), egg-laying hens, and turkeys. In the turkey industry, 5.4 million turkeys have been depopulated because of HPAI exposure. This is equivalent to about 2.5 percent of all turkeys that were commercially slaughtered for meat in 2021. While HPAI outbreaks in commercial facilities have diminished, losses that occurred in the spring have affected USDA’s turkey production forecasts for the remainder of 2022. HPAI’s impact on production is expected to be most significant in the second and third quarters of 2022. Second-quarter production is forecast at 1.29 billion pounds, about 8 percent below the same quarter in 2021. Similarly, third-quarter production is forecast to be about 6 percent below the same period in 2021. The industry starts to raise young birds in July for its November production. USDA projects turkey production to rebound close to previous year levels by the fourth quarter, which includes the Thanksgiving holiday. This chart first appeared in USDA, Economic Research Service’s Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook, May 2022 and has been updated with June 2022 data.
Thursday, June 30, 2022
Total retail food sales in the United States were higher the week ending May 1, 2022, $15.2 billion, compared with May 1, 2019, $12.7 billion, with substantial variation among categories. During the same period, the share of meats, eggs, and nuts increased from 16.8 percent to 17.1 percent, while the share of vegetables fell from 6.8 percent to 6.4 percent. The largest 3-year change was for fats and oils, which were 25.5 percent higher in sales value in 2022 compared with 2019. While the smallest 3-year change was for alcohol, which was 12.3 percent higher in sales value in 2022 compared with 2019. The USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Weekly Retail Food Sales data product provides a current and detailed picture of U.S. food-at-home retail sales. These data are clustered to food group levels and representative at the national and State levels. Two publicly available sets of the Weekly Retail Food Sales data are updated monthly by ERS: One with national totals and totals by 51 product subcategories (including alcohol), and the other with State totals for 39 States by 10 product categories (including alcohol). The data for this chart are available in ERS’s Weekly Retail Food Sales data product, updated on May 31, 2022.
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
For Fourth of July cookouts this year, cheeseburgers could cost more than they did in 2021. In May 2022, the ingredients for a home-prepared 1/4-pound cheeseburger totaled $2.07 per burger, with ground beef making up the largest cost at $1.20 and cheddar cheese accounting for $0.35. This represents an increase of 11.3 percent compared to the $1.86 it cost to produce the same cheeseburger in May 2021. Retail prices for one-pound quantities of all ingredients were higher in May 2022 compared with May 2021. Ground beef prices increased 16.9 percent and accounted for 17 cents of the increase between 2021 and 2022. Cheddar cheese and bread costs each rose about 1 cent per burger from 2021 to 2022. Iceberg lettuce prices rose the most, by 23.3 percent, but the relatively small proportion it contributes to the total cost of a burger means it added just 2 cents to the total. This chart uses data from the ERS Food Price Outlook data product, which was updated on June 24, 2022, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Average Price data, and USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Weekly Advertised Fruit and Vegetables Retail Prices.
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Sub-Saharan Africa is a major influencer in global agricultural trends. Rising incomes, growing populations, and increasing urbanization position the region as a growing market for agricultural exports. Dietary patterns in many areas of this region have shifted with the rise in per-capita incomes as consumers increasingly favor more grain- and protein-rich diets over traditional staple foods. Agricultural production in this 46-country region is largely limited to subsistence farming, so many countries rely on imports to meet growing demand for agricultural and food products. The United States has emerged as a major supplier of agricultural exports to sub-Saharan Africa, particularly wheat and poultry. In 2001, the United States exported less than $0.5 billion in agricultural goods to the region. In 2019, $2.1 billion in U.S. agricultural exports—an estimated 1.5 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports—were shipped to sub-Saharan African countries. More than half that value was accounted for by Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, and Ethiopia. As economic development trends observed in these four countries continue to take shape in other markets, the outlook for U.S. export growth is strong. This chart first appeared in USDA’s Economic Research Service COVID-19 Working Paper: Single Commodity Export Dependence and the Impacts of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa, released in May 2022.
Monday, June 27, 2022
Roughly 70 percent of public agricultural research and development (R&D) in the United States is performed by universities and other nonfederal cooperating institutions. Land-grant universities alone account for about half of all public agricultural R&D spending. State forestry schools, veterinary schools, and historically black colleges and universities account for most of the remaining agricultural R&D conducted at nonfederal institutions. State land-grant universities and agricultural experiment stations primarily perform research on topics of interest to their State or region, though this research has a national impact in the form of training scientists and generating basic scientific insights. USDA agencies such as the Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service perform the other 30 percent of public agricultural research, focusing on national and regional topics. This chart appears in the ERS’s Amber Waves article, “Investment in U.S. Public Agricultural Research and Development Has Fallen by a Third Over Past Two Decades, Lags Behind Major Trade Competitors,” published June 2022.
Thursday, June 23, 2022
USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) released “The Food and Nutrition Assistance Landscape: Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report” on Wednesday, June 22. The report examines program trends and policy changes in USDA’s largest U.S. food and nutrition assistance programs through fiscal year 2021. An overview of the annual ERS report will be provided in a webinar at 1 p.m. EDT, Thursday, June 23. To join or register, click here.
Spending on USDA’s food and nutrition assistance programs jumped 43 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2021 to an inflation-adjusted record high of $182.5 billion. This increase reflected the heightened need for food assistance during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the subsequent Federal response. In FY 2021, USDA expanded program benefits, approved waivers allowing flexibility in the administration of existing food and nutrition assistance programs, and continued to operate two temporary programs, Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) and the Farmers to Families Food Box Program (Food Box Program). P-EBT and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) experienced the largest increases in spending from FY 2020, 162 percent and 44 percent, respectively. These increases reflect P-EBT’s operation throughout all of FY 2021 (compared with only part of FY 2020) and the issuance of SNAP emergency allotments, which temporarily raised all recipients’ benefits up to or above the maximum benefit for their household size. Combined spending on the four largest child nutrition programs (the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Food Service Program) increased, as did spending on both the Food Box Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This chart is based on data available as of April 2022 that are subject to revision and a chart appearing in the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Food and Nutrition Assistance Landscape: Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report, released June 22, 2022.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Over the last 30 years, U.S. honey production has declined by around 1.4 percent per year while honey imports have grown by 7.6 percent per year, filling the domestic supply deficit. Imports have exceeded domestic honey production since 2005 and accounted for 74 percent of total U.S. honey supplies in 2021. The top three foreign suppliers—India, Vietnam, and Argentina—supply more than 71 percent of imported honey. Honey imports have expanded with rising domestic consumption of honey and honey-sweetened products. This expansion reached an all-time high in 2021, when domestic production was at the lowest volume since 1991. In 2021, production in all three major honey-producing States—North Dakota, South Dakota, and California—were 25 percent lower than their 1991 levels while production in the rest of the States declined by almost half during the same period. With the number of honey-producing colonies mostly unchanged, the year-to-year marked decline in 2021 production was mainly due to decreased honey production per colony. Average honey production per colony fell from 55 pounds in 2020 to 47 pounds in 2021, the lowest volume since the early 1990s. The widespread drought that year in key honeybee foraging grounds reduced floral resources available to make honey, contributing to lower honey production compared to 2020. More generally, in recent years, commercial beekeepers have focused on pollination services, particularly for almonds, instead of honey production. This shift in focus has contributed to the lower per colony output trend. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Sugar and Sweetener Outlook, June 2022.
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
After peaking at 6.8 million farms in 1935, the number of U.S. farms and ranches fell sharply through the early 1970s. Rapidly falling farm numbers in the mid-20th century reflect the growing productivity of agriculture and increased nonfarm employment opportunities. Since then, the number of U.S. farms has continued to decline, but much more slowly. In 2021, there were 2.01 million U.S. farms, down from 2.20 million in 2007. With 895 million acres of farmland nationwide in 2021, the average farm size was 445 acres, only slightly greater than the 440 acres recorded in the early 1970s. This chart appears in the ERS data product Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, updated June 2022.
Thursday, June 16, 2022
On February 17, 2022, a major U.S. manufacturer voluntarily recalled several domestically produced varieties of powdered infant formula because of bacterial contamination concerns. The recall strained U.S. supplies of infant formula, causing reduced availability in grocery stores. The reduction of the domestic infant formula supply in retail channels has corresponded with surging imports of infant formula manufactured abroad. These imports fall under a broader category of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States for “preparations suitable for infant and young children, put up for retail sale,” which includes infant formulas. Excluding certain non-dairy products, imports of these products totaled 6.7 million pounds in April 2022. This marked a 1.6-million-pound increase from March and 4.1-million-pound year-over-year increase from April 2021. Mexico and Ireland were the leading suppliers of U.S. infant formula imports over that time. Although infant formula imports increased in March and April, domestic infant formula supplies significantly declined in May 2022, partially as a result of surging consumer demand. To further mitigate the domestic infant formula shortage, the U.S. Government unveiled actions in May 2022 to import large volumes of formula from overseas. This chart first appeared in the May 2022 Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook and has been updated with recent data.
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
The Federal Government provides 64 percent of public agricultural research and development (R&D) funding in the United States. State governments and non-governmental sources, including funds generated by the universities themselves, account for the other 36 percent of funds for public agricultural R&D. Federal funds are delivered via external grants to universities and other cooperating institutions, and through appropriations to USDA agencies. Most of the Federal funding for agricultural research performed by non-Federal institutions is managed by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA allocates these funds through capacity grants to land grant and minority-serving institutions as well as through competitive grants that are open to all universities. Of the $1.663 billion in outlays for agricultural research by USDA research agencies (primarily the Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, and the Forest Service), about $165 million was allocated to cooperative research agreements with universities. The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and other Federal agencies are also important funders of agricultural R&D, accounting for about 15 percent of the Federal total. Agricultural research funded by these agencies is performed primarily at universities. This chart appears in the ERS’s Amber Waves article, “Investment in U.S. Public Agricultural Research and Development Has Fallen by a Third Over Past Two Decades, Lags Behind Major Trade Competitors,” published June 2022.
Monday, June 13, 2022
Real, or inflation-adjusted, annual food spending in the United States has increased every year since 1997 except in 2008, 2009, and 2020. Sales increased from 1997 to 2019 for both food at home (FAH), food intended for off-premise consumption from retailers such as grocery stores, and food away from home (FAFH), food consumed at outlets such as restaurants or cafeterias. Over this period, real FAH spending increased at a slower rate (43.5 percent) than for FAFH (73.9 percent). In 2020, during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, real total food expenditures fell 6.6 percent from 2019. U.S. consumers’ food-spending patterns changed as efforts were made to limit the spread of COVID-19, which included stay-at-home orders. FAFH spending decreased by 15.8 percent in 2020, while FAH spending increased by 3.9 percent. In 2021, real total food expenditures increased 12.2 percent from 2020. With increased household income during the economic recovery and relaxed safety measures around indoor dining and social distancing, FAFH spending increased by 21.1 percent in 2021 from the previous year and was the primary driver of the overall food spending increase. FAH spending increased by 4 percent. The data for this chart come from the ERS’s Food Expenditure Series data product.
Thursday, June 9, 2022
U.S. retail cotton use—an estimate of consumer usage of products made from cotton—jumped nearly 30 percent in 2021 to nearly 10 billion pounds, the highest in 13 years. The recovery coincided with the rebound of the U.S. economy following the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, when U.S. retail cotton use tumbled to its lowest point in more than 25 years. In the United States, most cotton clothing purchased in retail channels is imported. Import levels are used as an economic indicator for the global textile and apparel industry. U.S. cotton product imports—mostly clothing—fell by more than 10 percent in 2020, while cotton mill use and product exports—mostly yarn and fabric—also slowed with the economic downturn. By 2021, U.S. cotton product imports rose to their highest level since 2007. Although 2021 U.S. cotton mill use and product exports each increased by a similar percentage as product imports, the import volume was substantially larger. In addition, the U.S. per capita estimate of retail cotton usage increased to nearly 30 pounds in 2021, the highest amount since 2010. Despite the recent rebound, global economic expansion is projected to moderate in 2022 and the growth rate in retail cotton usage is expected to slow. This information is drawn from the Economic Research Service’s March 2022 Cotton and Wool Outlook.
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Spending on agricultural research and development (R&D) comes from private and public sources. Public R&D, however, has traditionally been the primary source directly oriented toward improving farm technology and productivity. Since the early 2000s, expenditures have declined in real terms for agricultural R&D performed by public institutions, including USDA laboratories, land grant universities, and other cooperating institutions. Researchers with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) found that R&D expenditures are now only slightly above the 1970 level of about $5 billion and well below the 2002 peak of just under $8 billion (constant 2019 dollars). Research expenditures were adjusted for inflation using the National Institutes of Health’s Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI). This chart appears in the ERS’s Amber Waves article, “Investment in U.S. Public Agricultural Research and Development Has Fallen by a Third Over Past Two Decades, Lags Behind Major Trade Competitors,” published June 2022.
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
From 2017 to 2018, meals, snacks and other foods at school were the richest source of dairy for children ages 2 to 19. These foods provided an average of 1.99 cups of dairy products per 1,000 calories consumed each day. The USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Food Consumption and Nutrient Intakes data product provides calculations of the average daily consumption of food groups and selected nutrients by food sources. It uses food consumption data collected from a nationally representative sample of U.S. consumers by the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services. Food sources are comprised of foods prepared at home and foods prepared away from home, including foods from restaurants, fast food establishments, and schools. The dairy foods group, as defined by USDA dietary guidance, is a major source of calcium and includes milk, cheese, yogurt, lactose-free milk, and fortified soy milk. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–25, recommend individuals 2 years and older should consume 2–3 cups of dairy per day, depending on age and calorie level of dietary pattern. Although no age group meets this recommendation, children come the closest, with school foods making an important contribution. This chart was drawn from the ERS’s Amber Waves article, “Food Consumption and Nutrient Intakes Data Product Shines a Light on U.S. Diets”, September 2021.
Monday, June 6, 2022
Conservation technical assistance is a service that helps producers develop skills and knowledge for maintaining the natural resources involved in agricultural production. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical assistance through several different programs. The Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) program provides comprehensive planning services and technical support for the adoption of conservation practices across the agricultural landscape. NRCS also provides free technical assistance to producers and landowners participating in working lands programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that primarily provide financial assistance for practice adoption. Similarly, NRCS provides technical support for participants in land conservation programs, which provide financial payments to producers and landowners that put land into long-term conservation, such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Finally, NRCS administers several science and technology programs, among which the largest amount of funding goes to soil surveys. Spending for the CTA program has decreased in the studied period (2002-2019) by 23 percent, once adjusted for inflation. On the other hand, spending on technical assistance in support of working lands programs that primarily provide financial assistance has increased over the period from $163 million to $761 million. Spending on technical assistance for land conservation has increased, and spending on science and technology has decreased over the same period. This chart was drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report USDA Conservation Technical Assistance and Within-Field Resource Concerns, published May 2022.
Thursday, June 2, 2022
Sunflower oil is one of the top four vegetable oils produced and consumed around the world. Commonly found in salad dressings, sunflower oil is widely used by consumers, likely for its light taste and healthy dosage of vitamin E. In the 2020/21 marketing year, sunflower oil accounted for 9 percent of major vegetable oils produced globally. Ukraine is the major global producer and exporter of sunflower oil, producing a total of 5.9 million tons in 2020/21, or 31 percent of all sunflower oil output, and 3 percent of major vegetable oils produced globally. Furthermore, Ukraine exported roughly 90 percent of its sunflower oil production in 2020/21 to trade partners such as the European Union, India, China, Egypt, and Turkey. These destinations together accounted for 65 percent of global sunflower oil exports. Market uncertainty about sunflower oil supplies from Ukraine has created additional demand for other vegetable oils, such as palm, soybean, and canola. Supplies of these alternatives are expected to be tight in the 2021/22 marketing year, contributing to elevated vegetable oil prices. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Oil Crops Outlook, April 2022.
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
USDA asked farmers to self-report soil and water related resource concerns on their cotton, wheat, oat, and soybean fields for USDA’s 2015, 2017, and 2018 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). USDA also asked farmers to report any sources of technical assistance which helped address their on-field soil and water concerns. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) defines a resource concern as an expected degradation of a natural resource used in farming to the degree that its sustainability or intended use is impaired. NRCS provides free technical assistance both as a standalone service under the Conservation Technical Assistance program (CTA) and to support implementation of practices receiving financial assistance from programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Producers can also seek technical assistance from other USDA agencies, the Cooperative Extension System, or sources such as conservation districts or State agencies. According to recent ARMS data, about 67 percent of fields that received any technical assistance received it from NRCS, with 46 percent of assisted fields receiving assistance exclusively from NRCS. Twenty five percent of assisted fields received assistance from multiple sources. This chart was drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report USDA Conservation Technical Assistance and Within-Field Resource Concerns, published May 5, 2022.
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
While overall U.S. dairy consumption remained flat from 1979 to 2019, daily cheese consumption more than doubled, according to loss-adjusted food availability data from the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS), which adjusts the amount of basic commodities available in the food supply for food spoilage, plate waste, and other losses to more closely approximate actual consumption. Overall U.S. dairy consumption remained roughly the same over this 40-year period, at just under 1.5 cup-equivalents of dairy products per person per day. However, daily cheese consumption grew to 0.72 cup-equivalents per person in 2019 from 0.34 cup-equivalents per person in 1979. Yogurt consumption grew almost fivefold to 0.05 cup-equivalents per person. Fluid milk consumption stood at 0.5 cup-equivalents per person in 2019, down from 0.9 cup-equivalents per person in 1979. Several factors contributed to this decline, including competition from alternative beverages, an aging population with differing preferences across generations, and changing consumer attitudes regarding milk fats. This chart is from ERS’s Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, updated April 2021.