Skip to main content

ERS Ag Research Counts

Posted by Justice Wright, Public Affairs Specialist for USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area in Food and Nutrition Research and Science Technology
Feb 21, 2017

To recognize the contribution that research in agriculture makes in our daily lives, we’re focusing this month’s Science Tuesday blogs on the successes that USDA science agencies have achieved for us all.

Many of us use technology daily to communicate faster than ever before. And Economic Research Service (ERS) is part of that group, too.  Using state-of-the-art technology, our economists and analysts work hard to deliver timely, policy-relevant research on topics such as childhood obesity, global food security, and climate change  -- issues that affect us all.  So, today we’re emphasizing the importance of economic information because “Ag Research Counts” every day, for every American. We’re continuing our trivia contest on Facebook with questions from past ‘Science Tuesday’ blogs.  You can weigh in on Twitter using the hashtag #AgResearchCounts. Here are this week’s blogs featuring ERS research that impacts each of us every day:

Updated Web Tool Maps U.S. Food Access in Greater Detail
The Economic Research Service recently released the Food Access Research Atlas, which expands and updates the agency’s Food Desert Locator. This online mapping tool identifies low-income census tracts where a substantial number of residents face challenges in reaching supermarkets or large grocery stores – the update has data on residents’ access to vehicles as well as distance to stores.

Disability Is an Important Risk Factor for Food Insecurity
Prior research has shown that food insecurity is more common among households with an adult who has a work-limiting disability. ERS also looked at how disabilities that don’t prevent employment might affect food security and also how the type of disability affects it.

What’s Ahead for Global Food Security?
For 2012, the food security situation in 76 developing countries is estimated to improve slightly, but the number of food-insecure people will likely rise in the next decade. The key factors in determining the level of a country’s food security are its domestic food production and its import capacity.

How the Farm Business Has Changed
Over the past few decades, innovations in farm production practices and business arrangements have allowed U.S. farmers to greatly increase their output without raising total input use. Farmers also altered how they manage risk - relying heavily on contracting, more complex forms of legal organization, and Federal crop insurance.

Healthy Foods not Necessarily More Expensive
ERS found that the price measure used has a large effect on determining which foods are more expensive. Using price per calorie, healthy foods would be more expensive than less healthy foods. But the result is different if we compare the prices of foods per edible weight or per average amount eaten.