Editors' Pick: Charts of Note 2019

This chart gallery is a collection of some of the best Charts of Note from 2019. 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.

U.S. organic commodity sales doubled between 2012 and 2017

Monday, September 23, 2019

Although the total value of U.S. agricultural sales remained relatively flat between 2012 and 2017, U.S. organic sales more than doubled to $7.3 billion. Growth in the U.S. organic sector has accelerated since the early 2010s as retailers, food manufacturers, and livestock producers have increased demand for organic food and inputs. Agricultural sales averaged $400,603 for organic operations in 2017, more than double the average agricultural sales for all farms ($190,245). The organic share of U.S. agricultural sales doubled to 2 percent between 2012 and 2017, and was over 6 percent in some States. California was the top State in both organic and overall agricultural sales. Most other top organic States were in the Pacific Northwest (a major grower of organic produce), Upper Midwest (a major producer of organic milk), and Northeast (which has many small-scale organic farms). Pennsylvania and North Carolina were among the States with the fastest growth between 2012 and 2017, with organic sales up ten- and eight-fold, respectively. In contrast, Iowa ranked second in overall agricultural sales and twelfth in organic sales, reflecting the low adoption of organic systems for U.S. grain production. This chart updates data found in the Amber Waves feature, “Growing Organic Demand Provides High-Value Opportunities for Many Types of Producers,” originally published in February 2017.

Climate change projected to increase cost of the Federal Crop Insurance Program

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Recent ERS research explored how climate change could affect the cost of the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP). Researchers trained statistical models to predict crop yields from historical weather data, and used weather simulations from climate models to build scenarios showing how yields might respond to climate change. Economic models then simulated how farmers and markets might respond to changes in weather and yields. The study explored potential impacts in the year 2080, and compared climate scenarios arising from different projections of greenhouse gas emissions levels to a hypothetical future with climate similar to that of the past several decades. Under the scenario with moderate emissions reductions, in which farmers adapt to changes in climate with adjustments to what they plant, where they plant it, and how they manage it, the cost of today’s FCIP would be on average about 3.5 percent higher than under a future with a climate similar to that of the recent past. Under the scenario in which emissions trends continue, the cost of FCIP would increase by an average of 22 percent. The estimated increases in the cost of FCIP are an average across the climate models shown in the chart—some models are more optimistic, while others more pessimistic. Cost estimates are higher in scenarios with no adaptation. This chart appears in the ERS report, Climate Change and Agricultural Risk Management Into the 21st Century, released July 2019.