METRICS FROM THE FIELD: Local Data Is Endangered


  • Ken Meter Crossroads Resource Center



Food Systems, Data, Federal Policy


First paragraphs:

One of the quiet impacts of the interruption of federal services in the U.S. — both the ongoing sequestration and the fall 2013 shutdown — was a tragic loss of local-level economic data. This critically threatens our ability to measure the success of community-based foods initiatives.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), a unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has enjoyed a deservedly solid reputation for publishing impartial data sets. Its Local Area Personal Income Statistics (LAPI), in particular, have offered essential measures of local economic activity. Few nations have comparable data.

Yet on November 21, 2013, BEA (2013b) announced that it had suspended publication of several critical local data sets. No longer will BEA report detailed data on farm income and expenses for counties across the U.S. It has stopped reporting transfer payments (such as SNAP benefits) at the county level. BEA will no longer publish local area employment data by industry, nor detailed local summaries of employee compensation or earnings. Gone are its compilations of data covering BEA economic areas (regions defined by economic trade rather than strictly political boundaries). The BEA has also eliminated its Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II) product — an essential tool for gauging economic impacts of local development plans....


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Ken Meter, Crossroads Resource Center

Ken Meter, president of Crossroads Resource Center, is one of the most experienced food system analysts in the U.S., having produced 97 regional and state food-system assessments in 32 states, all focused on local farm and food economies. He directed the US$9.8 million "Making Small Farms Big Business" investment plan commissioned by the state of South Carolina in 2013. Meter has also worked with several food banks nationally to bring an economic perspective to their capacity-building work, and recently completed a national study of the economic and social-network impacts of institutional food purchasing with the Illinois Public Health Institute.
Ken Meter



How to Cite

Meter, K. (2014). METRICS FROM THE FIELD: Local Data Is Endangered. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 4(2), 7–8.