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Posts tagged: NASS

Deciphering County Estimates Process

2015 Soybean Yield graphic

2015 Soybean Yield graphic. Click to enlarge.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Farmers love data. And while big picture items are great, growers tell us they really want and can use local data. In addition to national and state-level statistics, some of our most popular data are the county-level agricultural production information that we collect and publish.

Collecting local data is not an easy task. For example, in Iowa, where I oversee agricultural statistics, to determine 2015 county-level numbers, we surveyed 11,500 farmers in December and January to supplement data from nearly 3,000 Iowa farmers surveyed for the January 12th Crop Production Annual Summary report. These statistical surveys are designed so all farmers in the state have a chance to be selected for participation. In order to publish county data, we need responses from at least 30 producers in each county or yield reports for at least 25 percent of the harvested acreage in a county. Luckily, here in Iowa, we received 50 or more farmer reports for many counties but we still had a couple of counties that did not make the 30 report requirement for publication. Read more »

Public Engagement as Necessary as Math, Science

King Whetstone, (right), regional director of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service Northeastern Regional Field Office, meeting with attendees

King Whetstone, (right), regional director of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service Northeastern Regional Field Office, meets with attendees, Jan. 15, at the 2016 Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the United States.

It goes without saying a successful statistician must have strong math, analytical and technical skills. You might be surprised to learn, then, just how much of my time is dedicated to listening to and talking with people. To be sure, I still use math and science daily. Two decades into my career, however, it’s those intentional, important interactions with farmers who answer my agency’s requests for information, as well with those who use my agency’s data, researchers, analysts and farmers themselves that keep me busiest.

Why? Because NASS is the “go to” source for official government statistics on U.S. agricultural production, economics, land, water, energy, environmental management and farmer demographics. Part of my job includes making sure farmers want to respond to our surveys and censuses and that researchers choose to use our data because it is the most accurate and unbiased. Read more »

Ag Day Highlights Agriculture and Ag Data

Jimmy Maxey, Cattlemen's Beef Board video screenshot

Wonder what happens with all the data collected by USDA – NASS has the answers!

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

During National Ag Week we collectively celebrate the food, feed and fiber that U.S. farmers and ranchers provide every day.  Agriculture now and in the future relies on accurate, timely and useful information. My agency is charged with gathering information from farmers, ranchers and others involved in agriculture. We ask for information on a wide variety of topics such as prices, farmland value and availability, sales, age and experience of producers, and where the food on MyPlate is raised. We in turn provide with great pride and gravity the critical public data that are necessary for making informed decisions in business, policy and research.

More often now than in the past, producers are asking why they should provide their information.  To start to explain this, representatives of agricultural organizations who work for producers explain how they use NASS data, why they use NASS data and why farmers should respond to NASS surveys.  Earlier, producers themselves and others in the Ag industry shared their stories about using NASS data. Together, they really start to highlight the value and importance of the information farmers and ranchers provide for us to produce official U.S. statistics on agriculture. Read more »

National Ag Day: Where Was the Food On Your Plate Grown?

MyPlate, MyState graphic

MyPlate, MyState, a celebration of hometown goodness and healthy eating styles. More details coming soon!

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

Recently, the Let’s Move! campaign issued its annual call for kids to enter original recipes into the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.  One winner from each state will be selected to attend the 2016 Kids “State Dinner” at the White House, where a selection of the winning recipes will be served. This year, the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is putting a spotlight on homegrown pride and encouraging entries from across the country that include ingredients grown in your state, territory, or community, celebrating MyPlate, MyState. Read more »

Market News – Indispensable to Producers on Earth, Now Goes to MARS

Joe Gaynor demonstrating the new MARS data platform

Joe Gaynor (left) demonstrates how MARS will improve our services, helping ensure that farmers and ranchers know they're getting a fair price, wholesalers make better decisions about what and how much to buy, and commodity traders buy and sell based on current market information.

Editor’s Note: The free webinar on the Market Analysis and Reporting Services (MARS) has been moved to Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 2 p.m. Eastern.  Sign up using this link:

For over 100 years, USDA Market News has been an indispensable service, used by agricultural producers of all sizes to get timely, unbiased data from Market News reporters across the country.  Farmers, ranchers, and the entire agricultural supply chain turn to USDA Market News – administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – for data that serves as the information lifeline for America’s agricultural economy.  Now, Market News is entering a new phase, deploying the Market Analysis & Reporting Services (MARS).  It’s a big step forward for AMS, Market News and for the markets and producers that use our data every day.

MARS was formally unveiled during the recent USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum.  It includes the ability to capture livestock auctions for commodities like feeder cattle and will eventually include more than 600 commodities in real time (where applicable), and moves reporter’s data capture from the paper age to a connected digital age.  That means a reporter at a livestock auction in, for example, Kansas will know in real time what comparable feeder cattle is selling for at an auction in Texas. Read more »

New Statistics Help Guide New Farmer Programs

Farmland infographic

National Agricultural Statistics Service data released today (Feb. 18) shows there are now 2.07 million farms in the United States and the average farm size is up 3 acres from the previous year, to 441 acres.

Farmland is one of the most precious resources we have in this country. After all, it’s what we rely on for our food, fuel, and fiber. Unfortunately farmland is also a finite resource, and getting access to it is one of the major challenges new and beginning farmers and ranchers face. This is also why USDA analyzes many aspects of farms and farmland distribution.

Since 2007 we have seen the American agricultural industry reshape itself. Each year, the number of farms has declined while the average farm size keeps getting larger. According to the new numbers we released earlier today the trend is continuing. There are now 2.07 million farms in the United States, down 1 percent from a year before, with the average farm size of 441 acres, up 3 acres from the previous year. Read more »