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Close To 90,000 Farmers Share Planting Details For USDA-NASS Crop Acreage Reports, Agency Says

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Crop acreage reports are a huge undertaking this time of year for the USDA National Agricultural Statistics (NASS). The agency commonly gathers intel from up to 90,000 farmers to develop the report, says Lance Honig, chief of crops for NASS.

The undertaking is big enough that the agency employs two different surveys, he told Chip Flory, Agri-Talk host, on Friday.

The acreage survey, which goes out to about 65,000 farmers, asks producers to report the number of acres they expect to plant or have already planted. In addition, this survey is used to measure grain stocks, as well.

Honig says the agency also does an area-based survey which involves sampling nearly 10,000 segments of land across the U.S. Each segment is roughly a square mile in size.

“We do that survey because producers are constantly coming in or leaving farming,” he says. “We try to identify every operation within those 10,000 segments, which translates to maybe another 25,000 producers who provide (feedback on what they’re planting).”

Honig says another benefit of the area-based survey is it sheds light on land use. “We identify field by field what’s being done, what is planted or going to be planted,” he says. That information gives the agency some insights on where urban sprawl is affecting agriculture.

Honig told Flory that the agency is constantly working to get a more complete data set, so that its reports are accurate.

“We’re doing a deep dive into the processes to see if there are any steps we can take to enhance what (we’re doing),” he says.

“Everything – from the form that we use to collect information from the producers all the way through the end of the process where we publish the report – we’re looking at the entire process,” he says.

Right now, he adds, the agency’s focus is on grain stocks. “We hope to wrap that initial round of review up here in the next two or three months and see what kind of findings we have and what kind of opportunities we have moving forward to maybe make that process even better.”


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