USDA begins annual crop survey

RALEIGH — USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service began mailing the annual Row Crops County Agricultural Production and December Agricultural Surveys on Friday.

These are two of the agency’s larger surveys that query 6,500 and 2,200 North Carolina farmers about acres planted, acres harvested, production and yield for their 2016 corn, soybeans, hay, tobacco, cotton, peanuts and sweet potatoes crops.

“Data for row crops are collected from mid-November through mid-January, and Nov. 28 through Dec. 13, for December Ag Survey,” said Dee Webb, North Carolina state statistician. “The data are then combined to set the county estimates.”

NASS’s county estimates are used in conjunction with other USDA agencies’ estimate calculations to set standards for insurance and risk protection programs many farmers rely on to protect their operations.

“Data can have a direct impact on farmers,” Webb said. “For example, county yield estimates will be used by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency for agricultural risk coverage, price loss coverage, county loan rates, loan repayment rates, its disaster assistance program calculations, and many other programs. The Risk Management Agency uses the data for administering the Area Risk Protection Insurance Plan, establishment of transitional yields, and determining when to make crop loss insurance payments. Particularly when drought and flooding, like from Hurricane Matthew, impact crop production, these data are crucial to the agriculture industry.”

As an alternative to mailing the surveys back and to help save both time and money, growers will have the option to respond to the survey securely online. Farmers may also receive a phone call from a NASS representative who will interview operators using the survey form.

NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents and publishes only aggregate data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified.

Survey results will be published in 2017 on: corn and soybeans, Feb. 23; hay, April 13; tobacco, April 27; cotton, May 10[ peanuts, May 11; and sweet potatoes, July

For more information, call the NASS North Carolina Field Office at 800-437-8451.

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