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economic research service

Setting the Stage for Innovative Research

We’re fortunate to have robust food, fiber, fuel, and ag-related industries in America. Our food is safe, nutritious, and plentiful. Our fiber helps clothe people around the world. And we’re using value-added agricultural products to fuel machinery. However, agriculture is at a crossroads with the convergence of a growing global population, a changing climate, and limited natural resources. Fortunately, USDA science agencies work every day to develop new knowledge, technologies, and applications that help our farmers and ranchers work smarter, not harder.

A Look at Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States, 1948-2017

Did you know that total farm production nearly tripled between 1948 and 2017? Even as land and labor used in farming declined, innovations in animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment and farm organization have enabled continuing growth in farm output. USDA’s Economic Research Service’s Agricultural Productivity in the U.S. data product provides estimates of the growth and relative levels of U.S. agricultural productivity.

Talking Turkey

Did you know that between 2014 and 2018 approximately two thirds of U.S. turkey meat was produced in just six states: Minnesota, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, and Iowa? Minnesota, the largest producer, produces more than 15 percent of U.S. turkey meat annually.

Stats to Spice Up Your Pumpkin Knowledge

As you are enjoying fall pumpkin treats, consider that every U.S. state produces pumpkins. However, the top five pumpkin producing states between 2016 and 2018 – Illinois, Texas, California, Indiana, and Pennsylvania – harvested about 40 percent of U.S. pumpkin acres, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. In 2018, Illinois harvested twice as many acres of pumpkins as any of the other top states.

Food Insecurity in U.S. Households in 2018 is Down from 2017, Continuing Trend and Returning to Pre-Recession (2007) Level

In 2018, food insecurity returned to the pre-recession level of 11.1 percent, last observed in 2007. It is down from 11.8 percent in 2017 and a high of 14.9 percent in 2011. USDA’s Economic Research Service recently released its Household Food Security in the United States in 2018 on the incidence and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households. In 2018, 14.3 million households had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members because of a lack of financial or other resources.

By 2029, Food Security is Projected to Improve in 76 Low- and Middle-Income Countries

In 2019, 19.3 percent of the 3.8 billion people in 76 low- and middle-income countries are projected to be food insecure, meaning they do not have access to sufficient food for an active and healthy lifestyle. By 2029, their food security situation is projected to improve, leaving 9.2 percent food insecure (assuming rising per-capita incomes, stable or declining food prices, and no new major crises).

Purple Corn Offers Benefits Inside and Out

Purple corn is more than tasty and eye-catching. Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a game-changing element of purple corn – it may help reduce the risk of major health diseases.

Corn is America’s Largest Crop in 2019

Despite an unusually wet spring followed by an unusually cool June, America’s corn farmers planted even more than they did last year. U.S. farmers have planted 91.7 million acres of corn in 2019, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). That’s about 69 million football fields of corn and 3 percent more corn than last year, far more acres than the next largest crop, soybeans.