Thursday, December 10, 2015

USDA's use of Ag Census under microscope

The Census of Agriculture, which is conducted every five years, is used by economists, state, local, and federal policy-makers, financial analysts and farmers. However, in January 2015, the Agriculture Committee received correspondence from farmers and ranchers concerned that the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service improperly used the Census of Agriculture authority to conduct a mandatory survey entitled Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land. The TOTAL survey inquired about all aspects of an operator's personal financial portfolio as well as all aspects of farm related income and expenses. The TOTAL survey is a combination of what was previously the Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey, which was traditionally conducted as a follow-on Census of Agriculture survey, and the Agricultural Resource Management Survey, which has been prior to this year conducted by the Economic Research Service as a voluntary, academic survey. Members of the committee primarily expressed concerns regarding the compulsory aspect of the expanded TOTAL survey. "The most recent version of the TOTAL survey is extremely time-consuming, burdensome, and over broad in nature, and I'm concerned about the potentially negative effects this mandatory survey will have on farmers' willingness to participate in the Census of Agriculture," said Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., subcommittee chairman...more

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