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The Economics of Food, Farming, Natural Resources, and Rural America

Last updated on  July 4th, 2016

A Closer Look at Declining Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Using Linked Data Sources: Click here

Researchers linked ERS's food availability data with food intake survey data to break down national food and vegetable consumption trends by age, gender, education level, income, and race/ethnic background. They found that declines in fruit and vegetable consumption—driven by falling consumption of orange juice, potatoes and head lettuce—have been steeper for some demographic groups than for others.


Butter and Margarine Availability Over the Last Century: Click here

Between 1942 and 1972, butter availability in the United States fell from 16 to 5 pounds per person per year, while annual per person availability of margarine increased from 3 to 11 pounds. In the second half of the 1970s, U.S. margarine availability began trending downward, and by 2005, margarine consumption had fallen below butter consumption.


A Bigger Piece of the Pie: Exports Rising in Share of U.S. Apple Production: Click here

The domestic market consumes most U.S. fresh-market apples, but export markets have grown in importance for apple growers over the past several decades. U.S. exports of fresh apples have increased steadily during the period, with their share of U.S. production climbing from 14 percent in the mid-1980s to about 28 percent over the last 5 years.


Oil Prices and Ethanol Demand Drive Changes in Agricultural Commodity Production in Brazil: Click here

Prices of oil and biofuels, agricultural land use, and commodity markets are linked through a complex web of interactions. In Brazil, a major consumer and producer of ethanol and a leading commodity exporter, changes in oil prices could lead to major shifts in the country’s cropping patterns and, as a result, changes in world commodity prices.


India Emerges as a Major Beef Exporter: Click here

Since the late 2000s, India has rapidly increased its beef exports—specifically water buffalo meat—narrowly overtaking Brazil as the world’s largest beef exporter in 2014. Recent ERS research shows that India’s beef exports grew from an average of 0.31 million tons during 1999-2001 to an estimated 2.1 million tons during 2013-15, or about 12 percent annually.


Food Insecurity and Hispanic Diversity: Click here

In 2014, 20.6 percent of U.S. Hispanic adults lived in food-insecure households, compared with 11.8 percent of non-Hispanic adults. Food insecurity in 2011-14 among U.S. Hispanic adults varied by origin (the individual’s place of birth or that of his or her parents or ancestors), immigration status, and time in the United States.


Trends in Farm Sector Debt Vary by Type of Debt and Lender: Click here

Following a period of decline due to the farm financial crisis in the 1980s, farm sector debt has trended upward since the mid-1990s but at a slower pace than growth in the 1970s. However, after multiple years of falling net farm income and tempered expectations for farm sector asset values, there is increased focus on farm debt and comparisons to the farm financial crisis after the 1980s.


Production, Transportation, and Policy Factors Determine U.S. Export Competitiveness in World Corn and Soybean Markets: Click here

A new infographic looks at export competitiveness of soybeans and corn in the U.S., Argentina, and Brazil by comparing farm-level production costs, the costs of internal transportation and handling, and the costs of shipping to a common export destination.