Increasing transparency with the agricultural community and collaboration with Farm Bureau to accomplish shared goals are two recommendations made by an American Farm Bureau Federation working group for future USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) survey collection and data reporting.

AFBF issued a report that provides an in-depth examination into NASS’ survey collection and data reporting issues. It also provides recommendations to improve accuracy and farmer confidence in the survey results.

The USDA-NASS Working Group, comprised of 10 farmer members, spent more than four months evaluating the process and methodologies USDA-NASS uses to put farmer survey data into monthly reports.

AFBF’s report recommends NASS help farmers understand how the agency arrives at the numbers reported and provide clarity on the relationship between aggregate, state, county and field-level reported numbers.

“While NASS may have a gold standard reputation for agriculture statistics globally, U.S. farmers’ confidence in their reports has unfortunately declined,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Large changes, especially the last two years due to adverse weather events, in estimates of planted area, crop yields and inventory levels have caused wild swings in markets and left farmers questioning the agency’s ability to respond quickly to rapidly changing conditions on the ground.

"We hope the work done by this group will provide a framework for USDA to make timelier adjustments to these key reports and restore trust in the data we’ve relied upon for so long," Duvall said. "NASS has been responsive to feedback in the past and we are committed to working with the agency to achieve these new goals.”

Read the full report here.