Important To Participate In USDA Survey

Important To Participate In USDA Survey

USDA's National Ag Statistics Service will contact farmers in Iowa and across nation for annual ARMS survey, which serves as baseline for federal policies and farm programs.

USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will spend the next few months contacting farmers and ranchers across the nation to conduct the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). USDA is asking for farmers who are contacted to cooperate in providing information. The results of this survey will serve as a baseline for numerous federal policies and programs that affect U.S. farms and farm families. Also, you should keep in mind that the information you provide is kept strictly confidential, say NASS officials at the Iowa office of USDA/NASS in Des Moines.

"ARMS is our primary tool for gauging the financial condition and production practices on American farms and ranches," says Greg Thessen, director of the NASS Iowa Field Office. "By participating in this survey, Iowa farmers directly impact the decisions that affect them, their families and their operations."

This survey gives farmers a chance to help shape the future of U.S. agriculture

NASS conducts ARMS jointly with USDA's Economic Research Service. In an effort to obtain the most accurate data, the federal agencies will reach out to nearly 35,000 producers nationwide, including 1,600 in Iowa, between January and March. The small, but representative, sample of producers is asked to provide data on their operating expenditures, production costs, and household characteristics in order to understand the current financial state of agriculture.

"Decision makers from all facets of U.S. agriculture will use the collective information from ARMS to answer questions and make important decisions concerning the economic viability of American agriculture, the rural economy and other emerging issues," explains Thessen. "That's why it is imperative for all farmers contacted by NASS to provide responses and help shape the future of U.S. agriculture."

Don't worry--information you provide is kept confidential by USDA, by law

As with all NASS surveys, information provided by respondents is confidential by law. NASS safeguards the confidentiality of all responses, ensuring no individual respondent or operation can be identified, says Thessen.

The economic data gathered in the ARMS survey will be published in the annual Farm Production Expenditures report on August 2, 2012. All NASS reports are available online at NASS provides accurate, timely, useful and objective statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. The agency invites you to express your thoughts and provide occasional feedback on our products and services by joining a data user community. To join, sign in at and look for "NASS Data User Community."

For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Agricultural Statistics Hotline at (800) 727-9540.

All ERS reports are available on ERS website:

The Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), developed and conducted by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and Economic Research Service (ERS), is USDA's primary source of information on the production practices, resource use and economic well-being of America's farm operations and farm households. The survey targets selected commodities on a rotating basis to collect additional data on production costs and returns.

HOW ARE THE DATA COLLECTED? NASS will collect data on the economic well-being of nearly 35,000 farms in the 48 contiguous states beginning in January and continuing through the end of April. Farmers have the option of responding via one of the following data collection methods:

Internet – Secure, online reporting is the timeliest, most cost-effective method.

Mail – Participants fill out and mail back the questionnaire that they received.

Personal interview – A trained enumerator may conduct a personal interview to assist with data collection.

NASS representatives will ask all participating producers to provide data on their farm operating costs, capital improvements, assets and debts for agricultural production, as well as farm-related income, government payments, off-farm income and operator and household characteristics for the previous year.

In some states, commodity-specific questionnaires will include additional questions. NASS will ask producers selected for the broiler portion of the survey about their broiler feed, housing and sales. Sorghum and barley questionnaires will ask the growers to provide information about their drying practices, including cost and fuel used to dry the grains.

HOW IS THE INFORMATION USED? USDA, U.S. Congress, farm groups, agribusinesses and other decision-makers use the information from ARMS to make the decisions that shape the future of U.S. agriculture. Many federal policies and programs that affect U.S. farmers and farm families are based on ARMS data. For example:

ARMS plays a major role in calculating state and local income estimates, which are used to allocate federal funds for programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Security Income.

USDA heavily relies on the data collected by the ARMS throughout the Farm Bill discussions and decision-making.

ARMS provides annual cost-of-production estimates required by Congress for more than 15 commodities covered under farm-support legislation.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses ARMS data to calculate the farm sector portion of the U.S. gross domestic product.
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