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USDA Recognizes Chart Power with Top 10 List

Throughout 2013, USDA's Economic Research Service has charted key issues, as 2013 wrapped up it picked a few favorites.

Published on: Jan 2, 2014

Some observers have called it "chart porn" but a roundup of the Top 10 Best Charts of Note by USDA's Economic Research Service offer you an at-a-glance look at a range of areas and issues that occurred last year. From a graphic look at immigration and farm labor to changing impacts of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, the chart list gives you quick insight into these areas.

Here's a look at the list of the top 10 with links to each:

Immigration and farm labor get a quick look with the No. 10 chart on the USDA ERS list. the view of the Legal Status of Hired Crop Farm Workers shows that about half of those working on farms are not legally authorized to work in the United States.

SLIDING EXPORT SHARE: This chart - one of the top 10 from USDAs Economic Research Service - shows the falling global share the U.S. has in the global corn market. You can check out the link in this story for a larger version.
SLIDING EXPORT SHARE: This chart - one of the top 10 from USDA's Economic Research Service - shows the falling global share the U.S. has in the global corn market. You can check out the link in this story for a larger version.

Crop exports are important to farm prices, and the No. 9 chart has a chilling look at where U.S. corn exports have gone. In fact, according to the chart the United States has lost corn export market dominance.

The No. 8 chart offers solid evidence that all that complaining about high corn prices was overblown. In fact the chart shows that even large commodity price increases result in modest food price inflation.

At the No. 7 spot is a look at domestic food security and the fact that disability is an important risk factor for food insecurity. In fact, one in three households where an adult was unable to work due to a disability faced food insecurity.

At No. 6 is a look at the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. According to this chart inflation-adjusted value of SNAP benefits declined, and food insecurity increased from 2009-2011.

The No. 5 chart gives insight into the value of the small family farm. In fact, the chart shows that small family farms account for most U.S. farms and a majority of farm assets. The chart notes that 97% of U.S. farms are family farms. Interestingly the 3% non-family operations produced 15% of the value of ag output in 2011.

How long does food insecurity last? That's an issue that ERS looked at with two studies and found that generally the issue can be of short duration. In the No. 4 chart, ERS asks how long do food-insecure households remain food insecure?

Economic statistics are a great way to find the "truth" of an issue. For example, with all those warnings about obesity and information about healthy eating, are consumers putting information into practice? The No. 3 chart has a simple answer - no. In the chart it shows Americans' at-home food spending out of sync with dietary recommendations - except for potatoes.

The urban-rural divide could be widening - at least population wise - as shown in the No. 2 chart in the USDA ERS roundup. The nonmetro population has grown more slowly than metro areas since the mid-1990s and this latest chart shows the gap is getting worse. The chart shows nonmetro areas declined in population, 2011-2012, perhaps for the first time.

And the No. 1 chart from ERS shows an interesting conundrum that shows even as China invested in domestic ag output, it's imports of products continue to rise. The chart shows U.S. agricultural exports to China grow despite increases in China's domestic farm support.

Check out the top 10 charts to get a little better perspective on a range of issues.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service.