Survey reveals U.S. farming data

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently announced that they are contacting farmers and ranchers across the U.S. to conduct their annual Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS).

According to the USDA, ARMS data provides a direct linkage between commodity-production practices (including conservation) and the financial status of the farm and its operator's household. The data collected also provides insights about several aspects of the agricultural sector, including its contribution to the national economy, the organization and performance of farms, the income and well-being of farm households and the economics of production practices used among commodity enterprises.

"ARMS asks a small, but representative, sample of farmers about their operations to understand the current financial state of U.S. agriculture," said King Whetstone, director of the NASS New York field office. "Participation in ARMS is important because government and agricultural leaders use the information to make sound decisions that impact the future of farmers, their families, their businesses and their communities."

The survey provides farmers and ranchers with an opportunity to provide accurate, real-world data that will help shape the policies, programs and issues that affect them. Their responses are used to examine the effects of economic or policy events on farms and farm households.

The 2009-2010 ARMS results, released Aug. 3, 2010, revealed that U.S. farm production expenditures decreased by nearly $20 billion in 2009 – the first major decline in nearly a quarter century. It indicated that falling petroleum prices were a major factor behind the decline, leading to decreases in the costs of fuels, fertilizer and agricultural chemicals. It also indicated that overall farm production expenditures decreased in all major categories, including:
  • Feed costs (decreased 4 percent, to $20,533 per farm)
  • Farm services (decreased 4.2 percent to $16,609 per farm)
To obtain the most accurate data, 35,000 farmers and ranchers throughout the country are being asked to provide data for this year’s survey about their operating expenditures, production costs and household characteristics. NASS began contacting farmers in January and will continue its outreach until the end of April.

"Farm organizations, the USDA, other government agencies, members of Congress and state and local officials use the collective information from ARMS to answer questions and make important decisions concerning the economic viability of American agriculture, the rural economy and other emerging issues," stated Whetstone.

The data collected in ARMS will be published in the annual Farm Production Expenditures report Aug. 2, 2011, and will be available at

For more information about the Agricultural Resource Management Survey, visit

What do you think of the Agricultural Resource Management Survey? Do you think it is gathering the right type of information? What type of information would you like to see it collect? What do you think it would report about your farming region?

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