This is a presentation summary from the 2011 Illinois Farm Economics Summit (IFES) which occured December 12-16, 2011 at locations across Illinois. Summaries and MP3 podcasts of all presentations will be republished on farmdoc daily. The 'Presentations' section of the farmdoc site has PDF presentation slides and MP3 podcasts from all presenters here.
The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. Production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm finances, chemical use, and changes in the demographics of U.S. producers are only a few examples of information in NASS reports.
NASS is committed to providing timely, accurate, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. Personal information, including reported data, is protected from legal subpoena and Freedom of Information Act requests. Every person working for or in cooperation with NASS – from the Agency Administrator to the person collecting the information – signs a confidentiality form which states that no confidential information will be compromised. This includes sworn agents who are authorized by NASS to provide data collection support or statistical research. Any offender is subject to a jail term (5 years), a fine ($250,000), or both.
Each March, NASS begins a cyclical process by which acreage estimates for virtually every crop grown in the US are established. This process begins with the March Prospective Plantings report. Then in June, NASS follows up with the June Acreage Report which collects data on actual plantings and harvest intentions. These planted and harvested estimates then serve as the basis from which production estimates are derived for corn, soybeans and wheat. The September and December quarterly Agricultural Surveys provide estimates of grains in storage and final yields for small grains, row crops, and hay.
During the months of August through November, the agricultural community anxiously awaits the yields to be published in the NASS monthly crop production reports. NASS uses two basic methods to forecast crop yields. One method is to ask the farmer in the monthly Agricultural Yield survey. The other method is to train enumerators to count the crop in the field and use lab measurements for moisture content and shelling fraction. NASS statisticians use the data from both methods to establish monthly yield forecasts.
In addition to these yield and production reports, NASS also compiles quarterly grain stocks reports. It is the combination of the stocks reports along with production statistics which provide the basis for the market sensitive Supply and Demand reports.