By Dr. Catherine Woteki
A new academic year is here for millions of students and teachers across the country, and in spirit of the many back to school nights and open houses taking place, I’m encouraging you to explore USDA’s International Year of Statistics Virtual Open House.
The International Year of Statistics, sponsored by more than 2,000 organizations-–including the USDA–-is a worldwide event to help teach everyone about the powerful and far-reaching effects of statistics. When people hear the word “statistics,” they often think of sports statistics or the course they took and struggled to pass. While you can think of statistics in these terms, there is more to the relationship between you and statistics than you may imagine.
For agriculture, did you ever wonder about where your food is raised, how it’s produced, and by whom? How this information impacts future food prices and availability? About weather patterns and climate change and the effects they have on crops, livestock and America’s farm land? These questions and many more can be answered with statistics that are produced by USDA.
Statistics are rewarding to us not only as statisticians, economists and researchers, but also as students, teachers, parents and consumers. They arm us with the knowledge to contribute to the wellbeing of the entire human race–the people living with us at home, to our neighbors in nearby communities, to strangers we’ve never met around the globe.
Because of agricultural statistics we can make informed buying decisions for our families, we can impact societal change by supporting U.S. farm and rural policy, and we can make strides for the future by encouraging young minds to explore careers in statistics, mathematics and science.
Join the USDA’s International Year of Statistics Virtual Open House today by exploring the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the World Agricultural Outlook Board online. Touring these online sites, you can discover statistics, data tools and research, including:
- Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials explores the basics of farm and food sectors with 75 charts and maps.
- Amber Waves presents the economics of food, farming, natural resources and rural America in lay terms via engaging features, findings, and statistics.
- CropScape, a data visualization and analysis tool with satellite derived land cover images showing the annual planted crops and the ever-changing impacts on U.S. agriculture.
- Food Security Information and research that is helping provide access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.
- Quick Stats 2.0, the most comprehensive tool for accessing agricultural data published by NASS that allows you to visualize, manipulate, and export exactly the information you desire, whether it is based on commodity, location, or time period.
- World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates reports which shows U.S. farmers, policymakers, and traders what’s going on in the world of farm commodity forecasts at a single moment in time.
If you have a question, you can also connect with us on Twitter by tweeting NASS (@usda_nass) and ERS (@usda_ers). Join our virtual open house today and learn how agricultural statistics enhance the work of USDA and your life–every day and in every way!
Woteki is USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics.