Lower Rate of USDA-NASS Survey Returns a Concern

Reuters writer¬†Michael Hirtzer reported last week that, “Record-low responses from farmers to surveys threaten the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s status as the gold standard in crop data collection and potentially open up trading advantages to big firms, the agency’s chief economist said on Thursday.

“Response rates have been on a precipitous decline in recent years, falling below 60 percent in some cases, from rates of 80-85 percent in the early 1990s, chief economist Robert Johansson said in a study published by the University of Illinois (bit.ly/2jRehym).

“The study, co-authored by Johansson, said reduced response rates could introduce bias or error to the USDA’s estimates – for example, if farms producing higher yields dropped out.”

Graph from farmdoc daily, January 19, 2017.

Graph from farmdoc daily, January 19, 2017.

Mr.¬†Hirtzer noted that, “The USDA surveys tens of thousands of farmers for detailed planting and harvesting data for dozens of crops. The data is viewed as the ‘gold standard’ by the agency because of its scope and methodology, the study said.

Data at the county level is used to help calculate compensation payments to farmers under the 2014 Farm Bill.”

The Reuters article added that, “The USDA is one of the top 10 spenders of federal funds, with a budget of $156 billion in 2016.”

This entry was posted in Agriculture Law. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.