Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On-Line Resource: Historical U.S. Agricultural Statistics

The United States Department of Agriculture runs a National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), which "prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture." Last summer, NASS put seventy-seven years of historical agricultural data on-line by digitizing its annual publication, Agricultural Statistics, from 1936 to 2012. In addition to data on all U.S. agricultural products (including plants, animal, and dairy), there are also chapters in each year's report on topics such as farm income and expenses, subsidies and taxes, and the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
    The PDF files are not searchable, although the publications from 1994 to 2005 are also available on a CD-ROM that includes enhanced searching capabilities not available on the Internet version.
    In addition to this major digitization project, the NASS website also holds shorter runs of data on a wide range of economic issues related to agriculture. Digitized information varies widely by topic and time period, but those interested in this field will find a great deal of information tucked away on the NASS website.