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Results of agricultural labor survey could affect state’s farmers

Virginia farmers are being urged to complete the Agricultural Labor Survey that the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service mailed this month.

The survey, which is sent biannually in April and October, will collect information from more than 250 Virginia farm operators. It contains questions about hired farm labor, including total number of farm workers, average hours worked and wages paid for a specific time period.

NASS labor estimates influence the entire agriculture community. The USDA and U.S. Department of Labor use survey statistics to establish wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs and assist legislators in determining labor policies.

“Farmers receive surveys often, and it is important they don’t put this one aside,” emphasized Wilmer Stoneman, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing director. “It’s important that the data collected is accurate and that everyone participates, because this information is used to make important decisions.”

Herman Ellison, state statistician for NASS, noted it’s crucial that farmers fill out the survey because “the most accurate information we can receive is the information we get directly from the farmer.

“We have data users out there, such as the Department of Labor, that use this information to make decisions that are based off of what the farmer provides in this survey,” Ellison explained. “It is a great opportunity for farmers to tell their story about the wages that they pay and how many workers they have and the type of work they do.”

Ellison said the information also will be utilized at the state level, and individual farm data is kept confidential. A description of the survey can be found here: www.nass.usda.gov/Surveys/Guide_to_NASS_Surveys/Farm_Labor.

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