Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Posts tagged: statistics

Producing Statistics about Hard-to-Reach Populations through Adaptive and Network Sampling

Dr. Steve Thompson at the 25th annual Morris Hansen Lecture

Dr. Steve Thompson headlined the 25th annual Morris Hansen Lecture, November 17, 2015.

The number of people who had heart disease related surgeries, the percentage of Americans who take anti-depressants; the number of women who opt for natural childbirth, these are health statistics you likely hear about in the news frequently. But how do public health researchers obtain data about hard-to-reach, marginalized populations such as the homeless at-risk of contracting specific things like HIV/AIDS?

Producing statistics about hidden, underserved populations was one of the topics explored by Dr. Steve Thompson, professor of statistics at Simon Fraser University during the 25th annual Morris Hansen Lecture hosted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The lecture series was established by the Washington Statistical Society to honor Morris Hansen and his pioneering contributions to survey sampling and related statistical methods during his long and distinguished service at the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 200 people attended this year’s lecture at USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium in Washington. Read more »

Happy World Statistics Day 2015!

Traffic beside a port

Traffic beside a port.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Today is World Statistics Day and countries all around the world are celebrating the impact accurate statistics have on their lives. Here at the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) we take pride in our long tradition of working with our counterparts around the globe. Not only are we actively networking with other United Nations member states, but we also partner with Canada and Mexico to cooperatively publish statistics. Read more »

Food Insecurity in U.S. Households Essentially Unchanged from 2013, but Down from 2011 High

Prevalence of food security in 2014 was essentially unchanged from 2013 and 2012, down from 2011 chart

The Economic Research Service has released Household Food Security in the United States in 2014. ERS has also conducted recent research on the impact of economic conditions and policies on the incidence of food insecurity. (Click to enlarge)

USDA’s recently released annual report on the incidence and severity of food insecurity in American households marks 20 years of Federal statistics measuring U.S. food insecurity. This year’s report, presenting 2014 data, shows that 86.0 percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year, meaning that all household members had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. In 2014, 14.0 percent of U.S. households (17.4 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. Food insecurity, essentially unchanged from 2013, is down from a high of 14.9 percent measured in 2011.  

Looking back over the last several years, the food insecurity rate, as expected, rose in 2008 with the recession. But the food insecurity rate has not returned to pre-recession levels. Research shows that while modest improvements in food security have accompanied declining unemployment, other changes in the economy, including higher food prices, appear to offset the effect of unemployment declines. These higher food prices, along with an increase in overall inflation, are key factors preventing food insecurity rates from any substantial decline. Another Economic Research Service (ERS) study found that, particularly for households receiving benefits from USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), higher local food prices were related to higher food insecurity. Read more »

USDA Introduces New Food Safety Practices Survey for Producers, Processors

A farmworker rinsing just-picked yellow squash in a processing tub

A farmworker rinses just-picked yellow squash in a processing tub. USDA photo by Lance Cheung. Public Domain.

As the mom of a young boy, I am eager to learn more about the activities of growers and processors who supply my family and millions of others with our fruits and vegetables. In addition to being a mom, however, I am an agricultural statistician. Providing official statistics about agriculture gives me an opportunity to share knowledge about various aspects of the American food system, including food safety measures taken by fruit and vegetable operations across the United States.

To bring that crucial information into the spotlight, USDA’s Economic Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) joined efforts and created a series of surveys, which I have the honor of administrating. The surveys focus on food safety practices used in fruit and vegetable production and processing. The data obtained may inform our understanding of how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) may impact operators. Read more »

Serving Up Statistics More Efficiently

Ag Census Importance Infographic

The Census of Agriculture and the resulting data help inform decisions made across the agricultural spectrum, ranging from producers to policymakers. (Click to enlarge)

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

On any given day, a USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) employee or representative might be contacting a farmer or rancher to request information about his or her operation. At the same time, another employee could be analyzing data provided by other producers, while other employees prepare one of the many statistical reports we publish each year on U.S. agriculture to help with business, research and policy decisions. 

Although the general cycle of data collection, analysis and publication of our agricultural estimates and census of agriculture programs is like a well-oiled machine, the recent rate of change is much more rapid than I can ever recall in the years I’ve worked in government statistics. New technology and changes in budgets, communications, leadership and workplace culture has allowed us to modernize to better serve the American public. Read more »

Big Data Implications for the Production of Official Statistics

Dr. Daniel Pfeffermann at the Morris Hansen Lecture.

Dr. Daniel Pfeffermann, current President of the International Association of Survey Statisticians, discussed the implications big data might have for the production of official statistics at the recent Morris Hansen Lecture, an annual, open-to the-public education and outreach event held at USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium in Washington D.C. Pfeffermann stressed that big data may improve the timeliness of statistics while reducing response burden, but only if big data can be properly assessed, analyzed and interpreted to provide high quality, accurate information that is truly of value to users. USDA/NASS Photo by Dan Beckler.

Unless you live completely off the grid, you likely have heard of, and contribute to, “big data,” the often-used catch phrase describing massive (and ever-increasing) volumes of information stored digitally on computers, servers and clouds.

From advertisers using data mined from customer interactions; to government agencies making data public so developers can create beneficial mobile apps; to farmers applying statistical data to determine their production and marketing practices, a wide-variety of people and industries use big data. Read more »