Growers’ input shapes 2013 growing season

Farm Forum

A statistician’s work is never done. Just as we are starting to wrap up data collection for the 2012 Census of Agriculture, interviewers representing the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) are already visiting thousands of farmers across the United States to find out their 2013 planting intentions.

While all of our surveys are important in their own right, the March Agricultural Survey stands out. For those not familiar with our reports, the Prospective Plantings is one of the most anticipated publications of the year. Commodity traders around the world wait for this report to give them an early indication of the upcoming year’s U.S. crop production. As a result, the information that producers report to NASS can impact business decisions of input providers, farmers, agricultural lenders and others, as well as commodity prices.

Having worked in NASS Field Offices from Arizona to Maryland, I have personally had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of local farmers and have helped many with completing their surveys. I know that growers’ schedules are rarely free and it isn’t always easy to carve out time to do another survey. This is why we take information in any way a farmer finds it easiest and most convenient, be it providing the information over the phone, entering data via NASS’s secure Internet site or filling out our paper forms. And of course there is always the option of a quick personal interview.

Our work doesn’t end when the survey is mailed in. Once we receive all of the survey responses, teams of statisticians review and process all numbers in just a few short weeks. This helps us ensure that the data are as accurate as possible and that each and every respondent’s confidentiality remains protected, as we publish only aggregate information at the state and national levels.

Despite all of our efforts, the only way to ensure accuracy of these numbers is for growers to respond to our surveys. I want to thank all survey participants for completing their survey forms and encourage others to join them in doing so. Our statisticians will take care of the rest. Together, NASS and survey respondents are providing accurate and timely data in service to the entire agricultural and rural community.

For more information about the Census, including helpful tips on completing your Census form, visit or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828). The Census of Agriculture is your voice, your future, your responsibility.