The USDA does terrific research on many useful topics. Here is a sample of some just in.
STATE FACT SHEETS: data on population, per-capita income, earnings per job, poverty rates, employment, unemployment, farm characteristics, farm financial characteristics, top agricultural and export commodities.
WIC PROGRAM: research, publications, and data related to WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). WIC served 9.1 million participants per month at a cost of $6.5 billion in 2009.
FEED GRAINS DATABASE: statistics on domestic corn, grain sorghum, barley, and oats; foreign grains plus rye, millet, and mixed grains. You can also get historical information through custom queries.
LIVESTOCK, DAIRY, AND POULTRY OUTLOOK: current and forecast production, price, and trade statistics.
AGRICULTURAL OUTLOOK STATISTICAL INDICATORS: commodity and food prices, general economic indicators, government program expenditures, farm income estimates, and trade and export statistics.
ASPARAGUS STATISTICS: acreage, yield, production, price, crop value, and per capita use; also world area, production, and trade.
FOODBORNE ILLNESS COST CALCULATOR: the cost of illness from specific foodborne pathogens, depending on the annual number of cases, distribution of cases by severity, use or costs of medical care, amount or value of time lost from work, costs of premature death, and disutility costs for nonfatal cases.
ORGANIC FARMERS: explains why use of organic practices in U.S. lags behind other countries, differences and similarities between organic and conventional farmers, reduced consumer demand resulting from the weaker U.S. economy, and potential competition from the “locally grown” label.
LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS: defines local food, market size and reach, characteristics of local consumers and producers, and economic and health impacts. Addresses whether localization reduces energy use or greenhouse gas emissions (inconclusive).
BIOFUELS: Reaches 88 million gallons in 2010 as a result of one plant becoming commercially operational in 2010, using fat to produce diesel. Challenges include reducing high costs and overcoming the constraints of ethanol’s current 10-percent blending limit with gasoline.
Thanks to USDA for producing data that policy wonks like me just love to cite.