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NASS is reducing county estimates data for hay

Published on 12 December 2019

A notice in the Federal Register (#62502, Vol. 84, No. 221, issued Nov. 15, 2019) says in part:

Numerous surveys included in the Agricultural Surveys Program and the Field Crops Production docket (0535–0002) are used to set state and national estimates for numerous commodities. In order to publish data on a county level, much larger samples are needed. Within the Field Crops docket are two surveys that collect supplemental data for the purpose of publishing county-level data.

Historically, the data collection costs for these two surveys has been partially funded through a cooperative agreement between NASS and the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA). Due to program changes, RMA withdrew from this cooperative agreement this year. As a result, NASS is forced to reduce the County Estimates program.

In the first step, NASS will reduce the number of commodities for which county-level data will be made available. The commodities for which county-level data will be discontinued are: 

  • Dry edible beans
  • Flaxseed
  • Hay (alfalfa and other)
  • Potatoes
  • Sugarbeets
  • Sugarcane
  • Sunflower (non-oil and oil varieties) 
  • Tobacco

In addition, NASS will discontinue county estimates based on irrigated/nonirrigated practices.

The report states in early 2020, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will evaluate potentially more cutbacks, including changes to small grain county estimates. 

This reduction in data collection results in a decrease of approximately 13,940 hours and reduces the number of questionnaires by 51,000. 

Who relies on the data now being discontinued? The Farm Service Agency (FSA) uses it to carry out legislative mandates. The primary use of the data is to determine average yields by county, used in determining participating farmers’ compensation payments. The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has also used the data to administer programs. The report claims this reduction “… will also benefit the agricultural sector more generally by enabling the rental market for cropland to operate more competitively.”  end mark

U.S. Federal Register, notice #62502

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