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Sept 27 -- The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) invites comments by October 28, 2022 on its proposed revision and extension of the Annual Organic Survey.

The primary objective of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is to prepare and issue State and national estimates of crop and livestock production, prices, and disposition as well as economic statistics, farm numbers, land values, on-farm pesticide usage, pest crop management practices, as well as the Census of Agriculture. The target population for the Organic Survey consists of all certified organic farms, farms exempt from certification, and transitioning farms.  Certified organic farms must meet the qualifications set out by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the USDA and be certified compliant by an approved agent of AMS.  Farms employing organic practices according to the National Organic Program (NOP) standards but selling less than $5,000 of organic products are exempt from certification.  Transitioning farms have filed a plan and have begun the process of becoming certified organic.   

The primary purpose of the Organic Survey is to provide acreage, production, and sales data for a variety of organic crop and livestock commodities as well as to gather information on organic marketing practices. These data will be provided by certified organic farms, organic farms exempt from certification, and transitional farms in all 50 States. National and State estimates (when publishable) will be set for all items that are collected on the survey. The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) requires organic price and production data to establish organic specific price elections used for the crop insurance program.

The sample will consist of all certified organic operations, operations exempt from organic certification (value of sales < $5,000), and operations with acres transitioning into organic certification from the most recent published Census of Agriculture as well as organic operations currently on the NASS list frame. The survey will be conducted in all States. Some operation level data will be collected to use in classifying each operation for summary purposes. The majority of the questions will involve production data (acres planted, acres harvested, quantity harvested, quantity sold, livestock produced and sold, value of sale, etc.), and marketing and production practices.

NASS plans to collect the following organic crop information for acreage in production, quantity produced, quantity sold, and value of sales for field crops, vegetables, fruits, tree nuts and berries. NASS plans to collect information on inventory, quantity sold and value of sales, for organic: livestock, poultry and livestock products. In addition, NASS will collect information on the different marketing practices.

As part of the Organic Farming Initiatives, the data will be used to provide solid production and market data about the supply of key organic commodities. Presently, conventional farmers have access to various types of USDA data for non-organic commodities, while there is no long term, comparable data available for organic producers.

These data will be used to enhance programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by providing accurate, detailed data for agricultural products produced using organic practices.  Data will provide valuable information regarding the potential expansion of the Market Access Program to allow for more organic agricultural exports.  The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) will use these data to provide better insurance coverage for organic crops.

The respondents will be given various means to report their data including use of our web-based Computer Assisted Web Interviewing (CAWI) method.  After a presurvey mailing, operations will be contacted by mail in early January, with a second mailing in mid-February to non-respondents.  Additional reminder mailings to include electronic mail (E-Mail for those who opt in for E-Mail reminders) will also be used. Telephone and personal enumeration will be used for remaining non-response follow up.  NASS will publish summaries at the State level and for each major organic commodity when possible.  Some State level data may need to be published on a regional or national level due to confidentiality rules.

According to the 2019 Organic Survey there were 16,585 farms that produced and sold a total of $9.9 billion in organic products in 2019. Food safety and nutrition concerns continue to aid legislators in establishing policies for our Nation’s food supply.  Accurate measures of non-organic products used to make food have a firm foundation while there is a serious lack of information regarding the Organic sectors contribution to our food supply.

Our nation’s consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that quality food has a cornerstone for overall health and quality of life. As more research and studies are conducted there will be a continuing need for an accurate account of what organic production can contribute as a supplement to our overall intake of food products.  

Producers, universities, legislators, farm businesses, etc. are in need of organic production and economic data in order to make various important marketing and business decisions. The production of organic commodities can be a very profitable alternative for America’s farmers and ranchers and the information gathered will help in the continued orderly development of this expanding agricultural industry.

Annual Organic Survey webpage: https://www.nass.usda.gov/Surveys/Guide_to_NASS_Surveys/Organic_Production/
NASS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202209-0535-002 Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-20880

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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