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July 21 -- The National Agricultural Statistics Services (NASS) invites public comment to OMB by August 23, 2023 regarding its Field Crops Production Surveys. [Comments due 30 days after submission to OMB on July 24, 2023.]

The primary functions of the National Agricultural Statistics Services' (NASS) are to prepare and issue State and national estimates of crop and livestock production, disposition, and prices and to collect information on related environmental and economic factors. The Field Crops Production Program consists of probability field crops surveys and supplemental panel surveys. These surveys are extremely valuable for commodities where acreage and yield are published at the county level.

NASS collects information on field crops to monitor agricultural developments across the country that may impact on the nation's food supply. The Secretary of Agriculture uses estimates of crop production to administer farm program legislation and import and export programs.
Commodity-specific surveys for alfalfa seed, dry beans, dry peas, lentils, mint, special oilseeds, sunflowers (non-oil), popcorn, potatoes, sugarbeets, sugarcane, and tobacco are used in those States where better coverage of localized growing areas is needed.  Results are published in the next monthly Crop Production release.  In some States and with certain commodities, it has proven to be more effective if we include commodity price information, stocks and some processing questions on the production questionnaires.  This has helped to reduce the frequency at which individual operators are contacted to collect data.

Variety surveys are conducted in several States to estimate acreage planted by wheat, barley, and potato variety.  These variety surveys are conducted as part of State cooperative agreements.  

The County Agricultural Production Surveys (CAPS) or County Estimates Surveys are conducted each year at the end of the growing season to help estimate field crops acreage harvested and final production at county levels. In item A.12. NASS has identified two separate county estimate surveys, small grains and row crops. The small grains survey covers bread and cereal grains. These crops are harvested in the summer months (May – July), so we conduct a county estimate survey following harvest to minimize memory bias. The row crops (corn, soybeans, etc.) are harvested in the fall or early winter, so this data is collected in December and January. The two samples are pulled independently, so it is possible that a farmer could receive both questionnaires if they produce both types of crops.

The weekly Crop Progress and Condition Survey, published in Crop Progress, provides timely information about the development and condition of crops between issues of the monthly Crop Production release. Questions concerning soil moisture content, insect or disease presence, and the stages of crop production are also asked to better inform farmers of conditions in their region as well as other parts of the country.

The annual Cash Rent Survey samples farmers who have rented land historically on a cash basis.  These data will be used to satisfy the requirement originally specified in the 2008 Farm Bill to publish county level cash rent data for both crop land and pasture land.

The annual Wildlife Damage Survey is a reimbursable survey that targets farmers who operate land in the reference year.  The objective of the survey is to 1) estimate crop damage by species, 2) determine what control methods were used for deer, and 3) determine their attitudes toward deer on their property.  These surveys are critical in understanding damage caused to crops, deer control measures, and farm operator’s perceptions of deer populations. Information provided by farm operators will be used to manage wildlife population at a level that is appropriate for multiple stakeholders.
Crop forecasts published in the monthly Crop Production report and other releases, are used by farmers, agribusinesses, and many government agencies in analyzing the nation's production and marketing of field crops and grains.  The Secretary of Agriculture uses estimates of crop production to administer farm program legislation and import and export programs.

The weekly crop progress and condition inquiry, published in the Crop Progress report every Monday, provides an efficient way for the Department of Agriculture to closely monitor agricultural developments across the country which may affect the nation's food supply.  Numerous briefing reports are prepared for the Secretary of Agriculture on crop condition, phenological development, and harvest progress.  The reporting of insect and disease damage can alert farmers in other areas to take preventive measures, thus minimizing possible damage.  Information on soil moisture and extremes in temperatures can be used to predict potential crop yields. This information is very useful to farmers who are deciding on the appropriate time to sell their crops (through futures markets or through cash sales).

County estimates for field crops are needed by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Risk Management Agency to carry out their respective legislative mandates. Their primary use of the data is to determine average yields by county, used in determining participating farmers’ compensation payments. The county-level cash rent survey data enables FSA program payment rates to better reflect market conditions. The information is useful to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for administering programs. The information will also benefit the agricultural sector more generally by enabling the rental market for cropland to operate more competitively.

Variety surveys are used by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), plant breeders, researchers, and growers to determine the acreage by variety and measure acceptance of new varieties. The impact of insect or disease outbreaks can be measured from variety surveys after the tolerance of a particular variety is determined. Varietal data on wheat are used for determining production and available supplies by class.  Class data are of great importance to government analysts and exporters in planning the disposition of U.S. wheat crops since exports comprise approximately one-half of total use.
Guide to NASS Surveys: https://www.nass.usda.gov/Surveys/Guide_to_NASS_Surveys/index.php
NASS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202303-0535-001 Click on IC List for questionnaire, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FR notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-15505
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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