Recently, Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) members have expressed concern over some of the questions included in several United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) surveys, including the 2022 USDA Census of Agriculture, which is taken every five years. Some of the questions related to specific business and income information as well as employee data were the top topics of concern. While USDA NASS surveys have a long track record of use by government agencies, lawmakers, businesses, as well as farmers and ranchers, should NEFB actively work to reform what information USDA NASS requests?
For more than 150 years, USDA NASS has been the official source of primary comprehensive and current data on our nation’s farms and ranches. Each year, USDA NASS conducts hundreds of weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual surveys to help provide information to decision-makers, businesses, and government agencies. For farmers and ranchers, USDA NASS’ goal is to help make better business decisions through the use of data, including risk management, cash rent negotiations, marketing decisions, etc.
Every five years, USDA NASS conducts the Census of Agriculture. The large, comprehensive survey is updated with new data topics to reflect current trends and changes to U.S. agriculture. For 2022, new questions were added regarding the use of precision agriculture, hemp production, hair sheep production, and internet access. Following the release of the 2022 USDA Census of Agriculture, NEFB started receiving phone calls from members concerned with the level of personal and business questions included in the census. Detailed financial questions and employee data were just a few of the topics that members expressed unease about answering.
FARM BUREAU POLICY
American Farm Bureau Policy
#455 Agricultural Reports Pages 170-171
- Should reforms be made either at USDA or through Congress to reform the questions being asked in the USDA NASS Census of Agriculture?
- Should reforms be made to other reports/surveys being conducted by USDA NASS?
- Is data privacy a concern with USDA NASS reports/surveys?