Farm leaders pleased with restoration of NASS funding

The deal Congress struck to keep the federal government funded through Sept. 30 restored funding to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

usdaIf the USDA budget had been drastically cut as initially announced by the White House, the move would have targeted NASS.

The restored funding will benefit Virginia farmers, many of whom rely on NASS for unbiased and reliable statistical information.

“As long as there is a need for crop and livestock statistics, and Congress appropriates money for that purpose, I will serve agriculture in the best way that I can,” remarked Herman Ellison, state statistician for the NASS Virginia field office.

NASS provides roughly 400 reports on 120 crops and 45 livestock products annually, with estimates on acreage, yields and production.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the country’s largest organization representing farmers, said USDA staffing cuts and reduced statistical services could have hurt its members.

“A lot of farmers and growers rely on USDA’s statistical capabilities to make a lot of marketing and risk management decisions and planting decisions,” noted John Newton, AFBF’s director of market intelligence.

“No other entity collects agricultural data and shares that data publicly on the same scale as NASS,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “This sharing of data is a great equalizer, because all farms and agribusinesses, regardless of their size or means, can access and use this information to make market and business decisions.”

Banks explained that a Virginia grain producer can monitor crop progress in the Corn Belt via NASS reporting and use that information to help make corn marketing decision. A Virginia cattleman can monitor cattle inventory and harvest reports to make decisions about herd size.

Every five years NASS conducts the Census of Agriculture that provides comprehensive national, state and county economic agricultural data.

Others who use agricultural statistics include producer organizations, transportation firms, state and national policymakers and foreign buyers of agricultural products.


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