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Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials

How much do you know about food and agriculture? What about rural America or conservation? ERS has assembled more than 75 charts and maps covering key information about the farm and food sectors, including agricultural markets and trade, farm incomefood prices and consumption, food security, rural economies, and the interaction of agriculture and natural resources.

How much, for example, do agriculture and related industries contribute to U.S. gross domestic product? Which commodities are the leading agricultural exports? How much of the food dollar goes to farmers? How do job earnings in rural areas compare with metro areas? How much of the Nation’s water is used by agriculture? These are among the statistics covered in this collection of charts and maps—with accompanying text—divided into the nine section titles listed at left.

The charts below are a sampling from the Essentials collection.


What is agriculture’s share of the overall U.S. economy?
Agriculture and agriculture-related industries contributed $775.8 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012, a 4.8-percent share. The output of America’s farms contributed $166.9 billion of this sum—about 1 percent of GDP. The overall contribution of the agriculture sector to GDP is larger than this because sectors related ...
Agricultural production is a major use of land, accounting for over half of the U.S. land base
U.S. land area amounts to nearly 2.3 billion acres, with nearly 1.2 billion acres in agricultural lands. The proportion of the land base in agricultural uses declined from 63 percent in 1949 to 51 percent in 2007, the latest year for which data are available. Gradual declines have occurred in ...
The number of farms has leveled off at about 2.2 million
After peaking at 6.8 million farms in 1935, the number of U.S. farms fell sharply until leveling off in the early 1970s. Falling farm numbers during this period reflected growing productivity in agriculture and increased nonfarm employment opportunities. Because the amount of farmland did not decrease as much as the ...
There are several ways to define rural and urban areas
One definition of rural, based on relatively small geographic building blocks, is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau in its urban-rural classification system. In this delineation, rural areas comprise open country and settlements with fewer than 2,500 residents. Urban areas comprise larger places and the densely settled areas around ...
U.S. agricultural production occurs in each of the 50 States
In terms of sales value, California leads the country as the largest producer of agricultural products (crops and livestock), accounting for more than 11 percent of the national total, based on the 2007 Census of Agriculture. Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas round out the top five agricultural producing States, with ...
U.S. exports outpace U.S. imports
Exports grew by 8.9 percent on average annually from 2000 to 2013 while imports increased by 8.1 percent. Rising global demand, primarily in developing country markets, along with the dollar's competitive exchange rate helped U.S. exports grow faster than imports on average in the past decade. These trends widened the ...
Per capita availability of chicken higher than that of beef
In 2011, 58.4 pounds of chicken per person on a boneless, edible basis were available for Americans to eat, compared to 54.5 pounds of beef. Chicken began its upward climb in the 1940s, overtaking pork in 1996 as the second most consumed meat. Since 1970, U.S. chicken availability per person ...
Grocery store food prices up less than 1 percent from a year ago
The food-at-home CPI for the fourth quarter of 2013 was 0.6 percent higher than the food-at-home CPI for fourth-quarter 2012, as most at-home food categories increased in price. Lower prices for fats and oils, dairy products, and nonalcoholic beverages partially offset higher prices for most meats, fish and seafood, eggs, ...
The prevalence of food insecurity has changed little since 2008, despite rising poverty rates
In 2012, 85.5 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 14.5 percent of households were food insecure at least some time during the year, including 5.7 percent (7.0 million households) that had very low food security. Food insecurity increased from 10.5 percent in 2000 to ...

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Last updated: Tuesday, April 08, 2014

For more information contact: Ephraim Leibtag

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