USDA Advisory Committee NASS
Logo for USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture
National Agricultural Statistics Service

Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics
Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics
February 24-25, 2003



The Camberley-Brown Hotel
Louisville, Kentucky
  • Attendees at Meeting
  • Day One Summary
  • Day Two Summary
  • Committee Recommendations
  • Agenda (Appendix 1)

  • Attendees at Meeting

    Members Present  
    Walter J. Armbruster Jack C. Mitenbuler
    Roger M. Cryan Bobby R. Phills
    Robert D. Epperson Ross R. Racine
    Jacklyn Marie Folsum James D. Rieck
    R. Edmund Gomez Ira Silvergleit
    Carol A. Gregg Ranvir Singh
    Mark W. Jenner Robert William Spear
    Ling-Jung (Kelvin) Koong (Chair) Mark E. Whalon
    Sheila K. Massey Ewen M. Wilson (Census Bureau Ex-Officio)
    Lucy C. Meyring  

    Members Absent
    Phil Fulton (Ex-Officio) Andrew W. LaVigne
    John I. Gifford Hugh A. Warren
    Mark Lange Ronald C. Wimberley
    William G. Lapp Ivan W. Wyatt

    Contents of Meeting

    NASS Personnel Participating

    Ron Bosecker, Administrator
    Carol House, Committee Executive Director and Associate Administrator
    Joe Reilly, Deputy Administrator for Field Operations
    Rich Allen, Deputy Administrator for Programs and Products
    Marshall Dantzler, Director of Census and Survey Division
    George Hanuschak, Director of Research and Development Division
    Jack Nealon, Director of Information Technology Division
    Leland Brown, Kentucky State Statistician
    Kent Hoover, Branch Chief, Census Planning Branch

    Other NASS Personnel Present

    Rod DeSmet
    Dale Hawks

    Guests Present

    Mrs. Ranvir Singh
    Gary Crenshaw, Marion County Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office

    Contents of Meeting

    Day One Summary

    The meeting was called to order by Committee Chair, Kelvin Koong on February 24, 2003 at 8:15 a.m. Committee Members and NASS staff were asked to introduce themselves. Kelvin proceeded by asking Executive Director, Carol House, to give an overview of the meeting.

    Carol House briefly went over the meeting plans and what to expect. The meeting would be all day with various presentations and a discussion after each. We will also have the NASS confidentiality form for everyone to sign. Signing this form basically means that you will not divulge individual farm data. The main reason for the meeting taking place in Louisville, Kentucky is to facilitate a tour of the National Processing Center (NPC) in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The Census Bureau will host us on that tour tomorrow. This year our census reports are mailed out and returned to that facility and for the first time we are scanning those questionnaires. We are going to be able to see the whole process. We will return from the tour to discuss recommendations of the committee with adjournment at 1:00 p.m. Starting at 2:00 p.m. the hog subcommittee will have a public meeting to discuss the monthly hog estimation program.

    Welcome to Kentucky

    Kelvin Koong introduced Leland Brown, host State Statistician for Kentucky, to welcome the Committee to Louisville, Kentucky. Since the city merged with Jefferson County, it is the 16th largest city in the U.S. with a population of approximately one million. Leland gave an overview of Kentucky agriculture which has about 88,000 farms and ranks 5th in U. S. with land in farms (13.6 million acres). Kentucky’s cash receipts on farm commodities for 2001 totaled $3.5 billion with some of top commodity breakdown as followed: horses - $800 million, broilers and eggs - $566 million, cattle and calves - $500 million, and corn - $283 million. Kentucky agriculture is well diversified, including tobacco, goats, aquaculture, fruits/vegetables, bison, vineyards and wineries, and horticulture.

    'State of NASS'

    Ron Bosecker, the Administrator of NASS, made a presentation on the state of NASS and the 2002 accomplishments. NASS released two special reports in 2002. In September, an update of the U.S. Hog Breeding Structure report was issued. This report built on information provided in the 2001 report and included data on the changes in the makeup of the breeding herd by size of operation and the efficiency of the breeding herd in recent years. The second report, U.S. Dairy Herd Structure, was released in late September. This report contained a summary of the changes in the structure of the U.S. dairy herd by size of operation and geographic location. Two new environmental data products were provided in 2002 when the Agricultural Chemical Usage, Postharvest Applications - Wheat, and the Agricultural Chemical Usage, 2001 Dairy Cattle and Diary Facilities Summary were published, containing information on application rates for specific chemical active ingredients and total amounts applied.

    For the 2002 Farm Bill, the Market Year Average (MYA) price data was used extensively in formulating the calculations for the counter cyclical payments. The Agricultural Resource Management Surveys (ARMS), which are reimbursable projects with Economic Research Service (ERS), provided statistical analysis data for the Farm Bill. The impact of the Farm Bill had new developments in farm conservation. The Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) has asked NASS to help in measuring the effectiveness of the conservation programs that NRCS administrates. We have begun negotiations on a survey to measure this effectiveness.

    Preparations have started for the 2007 Census of Agriculture. The Committee members discussed some of the items that might need to be included or excluded from the 2007 Census of Agriculture. Several of the members made comments on how important NASS statistics have been for small farmers and other agricultural groups who depend on the statistics for their livelihood.

    Administrative Data

    Administrative data is data collected through an administrative process, often by other government agencies. NASS needs to determine how to use administrative data for publishing the best estimates possible. For example, Farm Service Agency (FSA) has a soybean acreage program in which farmers’ sign-up their acreage. NASS should be able to use this data to help refine current estimates and replace some survey efforts. Current uses of administrative data are NASS’ use of weighted monthly livestock prices from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) mandatory reporting system. Another potential effort is to use AMS cotton classing data to replace the Cotton Ginnings Survey.

    An example that involves data handling is the livestock slaughter program. NASS edits and summarizes data collected by Food Safety Inspectors Service (FSIS) inspectors from weekly plant submissions. NASS maintains all individual files while AMS publishes the weekly report.

    NASS is currently working to make sure States regulatory lists are available in the State Statistical Office. State Statistical Offices provides processing services to help meet State Departments of Agriculture needs.

    NASS will not break our confidentiality pledge even under emergency situations. NASS has pledged to help notify producers if there is a national emergency. We would do whatever we can do to get information to the farmers without disclosing personal data.

    Monthly Hogs and Pigs Report History

    Rich Allen gave a presentation outlining the monthly hogs and pigs report. It was requested by industry, after the December 1998 price collapse, with Public Law 106-78 (10-22-99). This law required NASS to publish a Monthly Hog and Pig Inventory Report. The monthly hogs and pigs report only focuses on breeding and farrowing operations. The law stated we should keep the quarterly survey, while we work on the monthly. The industry’s main concern is while trying to keep the monthly report operational, it has negatively impacted responses of the quarterly report. Last year a meeting was held in Iowa to evaluate user response to the monthly report. Meeting participants expressed concerns, but recommended that the survey should be given more time. Since the meeting a year ago, response rates have dropped and the committee decided to form a subcommittee to review the performance of the monthly hogs and pigs report. The subcommittee members would be Dr. Mark Jenner, Carol Gregg, Dr. Ewen Wilson, and Jack Mitenbuler from the ACAS. The hog industry representatives would be Shayle Shagam, Don Killingsworth, Steve Meyer, Ron Plain, Jim Robb, Mike Hoover, Joel Van Gist, and Jim Ellis. The subcommittee would report the recommendations to the ACAS, which would be forwarded to the Secretary.

    Other NASS Issues

    Carol House presented some of the other issues that NASS is currently working on. Egovernment is allowing the public easy access to government information and for others within the government to access other agency information. Authentication is validating a producer who wants to enter a USDA website to response to something that is only for that producer. A farmer would be able to apply for grants and complete questionnaires online. This online access is mandated throughout the federal government. NASS is proceeding with putting surveys on the web. Currently crop weather, quarterly grain stocks, and a grape survey in Texas are being tested.

    NASS is in the process of trying to integrate data between ARMS and Census. If an operation was selected for the ARMS survey then a census form was not mailed. The ARMS surveys are surveyed with a personal interview and the census form is generated from that survey. We will work on alternatives of what is the best procedure without over burdening big operators.

    NASS is collaborating with Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) to help evaluate the conservation programs in the Farm Bill. They are not set up to do this evaluation independently. We are looking forward to working with NRCS because both agencies set farmland estimates. They make estimates of pasture, cropland, urban and non-urban land and there is a lot of press coverage after they release land use estimates. We are working closely with them to understand and explain the differences in our land usage numbers.

    In addition, NASS is collaborating with FSA at the National level to utilize and understand FSA information that farmers currently provide on program crops. NASS has assigned a person to act as a liaison to study their data and give us a better understanding of how we can utilize the information. FSA is currently digitizing the fields into tracts with the hope of maintaining information more efficiently.

    An Overview of the 2002 Census of Agriculture

    Kent Hoover gave an overview of the 2002 Census of Agriculture progress. The time line for data collection is from December 2002 until August 2003. The pre data capture will be done by NPC from January 2003 until June 2003. Data capture activity will start in January 2003 and conclude in July 2003. The time-consuming activity of processing data will begin in March 2003 and continue until publishing the release in February 2004.

    The Farm Identification Survey (FIS) was a one page survey that was mailed in April 2002 and July 2002, trying to determine whether or not people are farming. It was mailed to approximately 1.16 million potential farms which resulted in 365 thousand probable farms. The FIS helped test some of the systems that would be used for checking in the 2002 Census of Agriculture. Also, the FIS helped narrow the scope of potential farm operators.

    Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma, and Kentucky are the four calling centers that were in operation to respond to questions from farm operators.

    The 2002 Census of Agriculture was mailed out on December 16, 2002 with the first follow-up February 6-14, and the second follow-up March 25-31. Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) will be conducted from February until June when counties are expected to be 75 percent completed. Two NASS analysts will be staffed at NPC to help with the processing of the questionnaires. Scanning has allowed SSO and HQ to see the data sooner.

    Census Publicity\Products: 2002 and a Look at 2007

    Rich Allen presented the goals of the 2002 Census of Agriculture. Our goal is to try to do slightly better than in 1997. For the 1997 Census of Agriculture, the response rate was 86.2 percent, the goal for 2002 Census of Agriculture response rate is 86.5 percent. Currently, we are below last census at this time, but hopefully we will be able to make the goal. The publicity role of Headquarters is to cover the national scope while the SSO’s cover the regional, state, and local scope. Headquarters prepares materials for selection and customization by states. To promote the 2002 Census of Agriculture, partners tool kits were created which contained several items for publicity (i.e. bookmarks, brochures, and drop-in advertisements). Also, NASS planned to visit organizations, and trade shows. NASS supported different types of media which included both local and major interviews, airing audio and video spots, and printed new releases in organizational newsletters. Targeted low response areas and grass root organizations in certain states with a test project of public relations spots. NASS hired a public relation consulting firm to help with the specific strategies of promoting the census.

    The 2002 Census of Agriculture Volume I Geographic area series will be released in February 2004. Other special studies will be the 2003 Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey which will be released in December 2004. The 2004 Horticulture Census will be released December 2005. The 2005 Census of Aquaculture will be released December 2006.

    The philosophy of the census of agriculture is that it asks a little bit about a lot of things. In 2007, what facts will commodity groups want to know and what type of special crop tabulation will be requested. Some assumptions will have to be made by 2007, NASS will: publish crop yields by farm size; release a report on US dairy herd structure and US broiler industry structure; offer electronic reporting; create personalized instruments with previous reported data. For data dissemination NASS will have a basic “define your own” tables capability on the web. We are now asking the question what should NASS keep, delete or add in designing the 2007 Census of Agriculture.

    The committee members discussed several possible questions that might want to be asked in the 2007 Census of Agriculture. More information will be needed on Native American reservations and minority farms, agricultural tourism, specialty crops, environmental issues and economic indicators or trends. Some of these issues will become more important by 2007.

    Contents of Meeting

    Day Two Summary

    National Processing Center Administration

    The NPC administrative staff gave an overview of the facility that would be toured on Tuesday morning. NPC swore in all persons that were going on the tour as “Census Employees.”

    Closing Remarks for the Advisory Committee

    Carol House announced that the next meeting is tentatively scheduled for early 2004 and will be held in Washington, D.C. the same week as the World Agriculture Outlook Board Forum. The meeting was adjourned.

    Contents of Meeting

    Public Comments


    New Business and Recommendations

    Committee Recommendations

    Recommendation 1

    The Committee recommends that NASS develop standards and procedures, in time for the release of the 2002 Census of Agriculture, to allow for the briefing of the Commissioners of Agriculture, and/or their equivalents or designees. The briefing would be three hours prior to the release of nonmarket sensitive reports. The information presented in the briefings would be embargoed until the public release of the NASS report, but the early briefing would allow commissioners time to prepare for public questions. The committee offers the following guidelines for the procedures and requests that NASS allow the committee the opportunity to review and comment on the draft procedures.

    -Briefing would be conducted by the State Statistician or other appropriate NASS representative.

    -Briefing would be based on an executive summary or press release prepared from the full report.

    -The commissioner should sign the standard NASS non-disclosure form. Any designee should be identified in advance.

    Recommendation 2

    The 2002 Census of Agriculture used special procedures on Indian Reservations in MT, SD and ND, which left a large void in coverage of reservations in the Agriculture Census in other states. The committee recommends that the Secretary of Agriculture and NASS conduct a follow-on survey of Indian Reservations and this survey be completed prior to 2005. Further, the committee recommends that the Secretary and NASS assist and support the securing of funding to accomplish this task.

    Recommendation 3

    The committee formed a subcommittee to address census gathering and data correlation for minority agriculture groups. The members of this subcommittee are Dr. Bobby Phills, Edmund Gomez, Sheila Massey, Ross Racine, and a NASS employee to be named.

    Recommendation 4

    Whereas the availability of accurate information is necessary for the department to:

    -Provide data for markets to function;

    -Perform mandatory monitoring of agricultural programs; and

    -Provide information to congress for decision making regarding food programs for the needy, financing for agriculture, food safety programs, and soil and moisture conservation.

    The committee therefore recommends that the Secretary of Agriculture make every effort to maintain the strict confidentiality of all data collected under the provisions of the United States code (Title 7, Section 2276) in order to maintain the cooperation of all those providing this voluntary data.

    Recommendation 5

    In order to expand support of NASS programs at the state and local levels and to assist in preparation for the 2007 Census of Agriculture, the committee strongly recommends that all State Statisticians conduct annual focus group meetings commencing in 2003 for the purpose of strengthening program efforts at the state level and preparing state strategies for the anticipated success of the 2007 Census of Agriculture. Through this process, every effort will be made to be inclusive of all eligible farmers and ranchers in their respective states. The focus groups will include representatives from all sectors of the agricultural and academic community.

    Recommendation 6

    The Committee strongly supports the accelerated adoption of valuable Integrated Pest Management practices on agricultural working lands in the United States. In accordance, the Committee supports the formation of a partnership between NASS, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and other stakeholder organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation programs imbedded in the 2002 Farm Bill. The committee recommends that the evaluation incorporate measures of IPM adoption and biological metrics to evaluate IPM effectiveness across the array of major and minor crops.

    Recommendation 7 (Refer to Appendix II - Report of Subcommittee)

    Inasmuch as the NASS Monthly Hogs and Pigs Report appears to be of minimal value to the industry and is a burden on producer respondents, and whereas the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report provides valuable, detailed, and state-level data, the subcommittee appointed to examine the hog survey, concerned that the monthly report could adversely affect the quality of the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report, hereby recommends:

    -That the Monthly Hogs and Pigs Survey be discontinued as soon as possible,

    -That the budget savings, thereby realized, be used to enhance and improve the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Survey,

    -That NASS work with hog producers to make the quarterly survey consistent with industry records and,

    -That NASS develop electronic reporting instruments.


    New Chairperson

    The election committee nominated Dr. Mark Jenner to serve as Chairperson for the Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics, beginning on January 1, 2004. Dr. Jenner accepted the nomination and was approved by attending members.

    Contents of Meeting

    Appendix 1. Agenda

    February 24-25, 2003
    The Camberley-Brown Hotel
    Louisville, Kentucky

    Monday, February 24

    Time Topic/Activity Discussion Leader
    4:00 p.m.   Orientation (New Committee Members Only) Sunday February 23, 2003
     8:00 a.m. Call to Order and Introduction Kelvin Koong, Committee Chair
     8:10 a.m. Meeting Plans Carol House, Associate Administrator and
    Committee Executive Director
     8:30 a.m. Welcome to Louisville, Kentucky Lee Brown, State Statistician
    Kentucky SSO
     8:45 a.m. Administrator's 'State of NASS' R. Ronald Bosecker,
     9:30 a.m. BREAK  
     9:45 a.m. Discussion on 'State of NASS' Kelvin Koong
     10:15 a.m. Administrative Data Rich Allen, Deputy Administrator for Programs and Products
     10:45 a.m. Discussion on Administrative Data Kelvin Koong
     11:15 a.m. Advisory Subcommittee for Hogs Steve Wiyatt, Director
    Statistics Division
    11:30 a.m. Discussion on Subcommittee for Hogs Kelvin Koong
    11:45 a.m. Lunch  
    12:45 p.m. Update on Other NASS Issues Carol House
    1:15 p.m. Discussion on Other NASS Issues Kelvin Koong
    1:45 p.m. Overview of the 2002 Census of Agriculture Marshall Dantzler, Director
    Census and Survey Division
    2:15 p.m. Census Publicity\Product:
    2002 and a Look at 2007
    Rich Allen
    3:00 p.m. Break  
    3:15 p.m. Census Publicity\Product:
    2002 and a Look at 2007
    Kelvin Koong
    3:45 p.m. Public Questions and Comments Kelvin Koong
    4:15 p.m. National Processing Center Administration Judith Petty,
    Director of NPC
    4:45 p.m. Wrap up and Logistics for
    Tuesday NPC Tour
    Carol House
    5:00 p.m. Adjourn  
    5:15 p.m. Reception  
    * A reception will take place from 5:30-7:00 and will feature a brief presentation from Carol House.


    February 24-25, 2003
    The Camberley-Brown Hotel
    Louisville, Kentucky

    Tuesday, February 25

    Time Topic/Activity Discussion Leader
     8:15 a.m. Bus Leaves for NPC  
     8:30 a.m. Tour of NPC  
     11:15 a.m. Bus Leaves for The Brown  
     11:30 a.m. Committee Recommendations Kelvin Koong
    12:45 p.m. Closing Remarks Carol House
    1:00 p.m. ADJOURN  

    Contents of Meeting