Skip to main content

Dive Deeper Into USDA Data with New APIs

Posted by Erin Maneri Akred, Presidential Innovations Fellow for Open Data, ERS in Conservation Technology
Dec 11, 2013

Data consumers can now more easily leverage several of the most popular offerings from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS)!

To meet the needs of a growing community of data users, including application developers and researchers, ERS has just released seven new APIs (Application Programming Interface), enriched with shared services provided by other Federal agencies.  The APIs offer dynamic access to ERS’s atlases, traditional data sets, and indicators in machine-readable formats.  ERS has developed rigorous standards for data products; users will note the extensive metadata and full documentation and transparency provided for each of the data sets via APIs.

Experienced users may want to dive into the thorough documentation available on ERS’s Developer page; while those seeking a simpler path can leverage pre-built widgets and starter-code snippets available in jQuery, Python, and Ruby.  The geospatial APIs provide access to map layers via ESRI (or other mapping services, such as Mapbox and Google Maps).  The newly released APIs supplement the following data sets:

  • ARMS Farm Financial and Crop Production Practices: The primary source of aggregated information on the financial condition, production practices, resource use, and economic well-being of farm businesses and households.
  • Food Dollar Series: This economic model output of annual expenditures by U.S. consumers on domestically produced food shows how a dollar spent on food is allocated across supporting industries, including marketing, processing, legal and accounting, transportation, and sourcing raw goods.
  • Food Access Research Atlas: A variety of indicators on food access and supermarket accessibility in the U.S. measured at the census tract level are available as map layers.
  • Food Environment Atlas: Present a wider set of statistics on food choices, health, and well-being, including proximity to food sources, prices, assistance programs, and community characteristics in the U.S.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Data System: Participation and benefit levels for SNAP recipients at the State and county level.  Geo-tagged data is available in a series of mapping services.
  • Farm Program Atlas: The availability and extent of insurance, conservation, marketing, and other Federal programs available to farmers.
  • Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America: A spatial interpretation of county-level, economic and social conditions along four dimensions: people, jobs, agriculture, and county classifications. Over 60 socioeconomic indicators available as map layers.

Data queries/functionality in the APIs match those of the data products, applications, and atlases already offered.  This increases the value and utility of public data, and enables greater interaction with ERS data in machine-readable formats, such as mashing up with other data sets and/or processing for new insights. ERS is committed to expanding and enriching accessibility and transparency via Open Data strategies.

Please visit the ERS GitHub site to join our coding community and provide feedback.

Category/Topic: Conservation Technology