Young children at lunch in Kentucky. Rising income inequality in rural areas over the past decade has coincided with an increase in child poverty, according to a recent report by USDA’s Economic Research Service. USDA photo
During the 1950s and 1960s, the adage “a rising tide lifts all boats” broadly applied to the U.S. economy. As average income grew, the share of the population living in poverty fell rapidly. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, this relationship changed: average income continued to rise, but poverty increased. This means that incomes actually fell for many families in the lower portion of the income distribution. In other words, income inequality increased, and this translated into higher poverty despite a growing economy.
Recent work by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) shows that this dynamic persists, and helps explain trends in poverty among children in rural areas. According to official estimates, the share of rural children living in poverty grew between 2003 and 2007 even as the national economy expanded. Between 2007 and 2010, this share continued to increase, as might be expected given the profound economic recession of 2007-09. But the rural child poverty rate continued to rise through 2012, peaking at 26.7 percent, its highest level since at least 1968 — despite the resumption of economic growth at the national level. The rate finally began to decline between 2012 and 2014, but the 2014 level was well above that of 2003. Read more »
Two young boys enjoy lunch near their home in Knox County, KY.
Rural child poverty fell by 3 percentage points from 2012 to 2014. Over the past seven years, USDA and the Obama Administration have taken action to address the root causes and reduce the devastating effects of rural child poverty. As a record streak of private sector job creation has cut nationwide unemployment in half, to 5 percent, average incomes for rural and urban families alike climbed nearly 6 percent in the last two years of data, returning to 2003 levels. While we have made important progress in increasing incomes and reducing the rural child poverty rate, it remains unacceptable that 1.5 million children in rural America – 23.7 percent of all rural youth – live in poverty. Read more »
Produce on display at farmers’ market in Washington DC. Economic Research Service’s Amber Waves magazine reports that farmers who market goods directly to consumers are more likely to remain in business. USDA photo
Opportunities to buy food directly from farmers, in urban and rural areas, have increased considerably in recent years. The number of farms that sold food at roadside stands, farmers’ markets, pick-your-own farms, onfarm stores, and community-supported agricultural arrangements increased 24 percent between 2002 and 2012. Economists at the Economic Research Service (ERS) have found that farmers who market goods directly to consumers are more likely to remain in business than those who market only through traditional channels.
Farmers face many business risks, including fluctuations in prices and yields. ERS looked at Census of Agriculture data showing that 61 percent of farms with direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales in 2007 were in business under the same operator in 2012, compared with 55 percent of farms without DTC sales. In a comparison of farms across four size categories (defined by annual sales in 2007), farmers with DTC sales had a higher survival rate in each category. The difference in survival rates ranged from 10 percentage points among the smallest farms to about 6 percentage points among the largest. Read more »
MARS allows for more data availability, better analysis, and improved information availability sooner for more agricultural markets in one easy-to-use tool.
Earlier this week, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) hosted a webinar on an exciting new initiative to provide unbiased market data to users digitally. Called the Market Analysis & Reporting Services (MARS), this dynamic, innovative technology will assist USDA Market News in collecting and distributing information electronically from remote locations, by combining reporting from all commodity areas (Livestock, Cotton, Specialty Crops, and Dairy) into a single platform.
This modernization effort will improve the transparency, speed, accuracy, and flexibility of this vital service and allow Market News to continue to expand its services to agricultural market participants. To ensure that our changes meet your needs, we are conducting focus groups and welcome you to participate. Your input will enable Market News to speed data flow from the agricultural markets, to agency analysts, and to the public, allowing users to create unique content. Read more »
Joe Gaynor (left) demonstrates how MARS will improve our services, helping ensure that farmers and ranchers know they're getting a fair price, wholesalers make better decisions about what and how much to buy, and commodity traders buy and sell based on current market information.
Editor’s Note: The free webinar on the Market Analysis and Reporting Services (MARS) has been moved to Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Sign up using this link: http://bit.ly/1MxNAWj
For over 100 years, USDA Market News has been an indispensable service, used by agricultural producers of all sizes to get timely, unbiased data from Market News reporters across the country. Farmers, ranchers, and the entire agricultural supply chain turn to USDA Market News – administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – for data that serves as the information lifeline for America’s agricultural economy. Now, Market News is entering a new phase, deploying the Market Analysis & Reporting Services (MARS). It’s a big step forward for AMS, Market News and for the markets and producers that use our data every day.
MARS was formally unveiled during the recent USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum. It includes the ability to capture livestock auctions for commodities like feeder cattle and will eventually include more than 600 commodities in real time (where applicable), and moves reporter’s data capture from the paper age to a connected digital age. That means a reporter at a livestock auction in, for example, Kansas will know in real time what comparable feeder cattle is selling for at an auction in Texas. Read more »
Organic practices foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.
The National Organic Program (NOP) – part of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – protects the integrity of certified organic products by developing clear standards, overseeing the certification of organic farms and businesses, and ensuring compliance with the USDA organic regulations.
Organic is a labeling term that means the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices. These practices foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Certified organic crop and livestock producers manage their farms according to the USDA organic regulations. This means using materials that are approved for use in organic production, and maintaining or improving the natural resources of their operation, including soil and water quality. Read more »