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United States Department of Agriculture
National Agricultural Statistics Service

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  Frequently Asked Questions

National Agricultural Statistics Service

What is NASS and what do you do?

NASS stands for National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Each year, the employees of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conduct hundreds of surveys and prepare reports covering virtually every facet of U.S. agriculture -- production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, and other aspects of the farm industry. In addition, NASS's 46 Field Offices publish data about many of the same topics for local audiences. NASS publications cover a wide range of subjects, from traditional crops, such as corn and wheat, to specialties, such as mushrooms and flowers; from calves born to hogs slaughtered; from agricultural prices to land in farms. The abundance of information produced has earned for NASS employees the title, "The Fact Finders of Agriculture."

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What type of information is available from NASS? What form(s) is it available in?

NASS issues statistical information about agriculture. This information is distributed in the form of reports and datasets. The reports are available in text and Adobe Acrobat PDF files. Most NASS data are at the U. S. and State level. Historical data is also available including some historical county data from an on-line database.

(Refer to the monthly Crop Production report and the Agricultural Prices report for an example of the type of breakout given for specific commodities.)

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What is a report?

NASS releases approximately 340 reports annually covering a large range of agricultural items (i.e., crops, livestock, and farm input prices). Current published reports' forecasts and estimates include production, inventory, disposition, utilization, stocks, prices for agricultural commodities, and such other items as labor, farm numbers, and agricultural chemical usage.

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What is a dataset?

NASS offers a wide range of data sets. Data sets are files of historical data tracking many agricultural items, some dating back as far as 1866, depending on the commodity you desire. The information is commodity specific and contains many category breakdowns including U.S., State, and county crop and livestock data.

Important Note: Always view the README.DOC at the top of the listing for important information regarding the data and the index codes used for the agricultural items.

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Why are there three USDA agencies' information at the USDA Economics and Statistics System (Cornell University) web site?

NASS works very closely with the ERS and WAOB to release reliable and timely information to the public. The three agencies have a joint agreement with Cornell University to maintain this web site.

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How is NASS data different from that from ERS or WAOB?

NASS data generally reflect the current situation at the farm level as reported by farmers and agribusinesses.

The NASS data are baseline data for ERS economic and price forecasting. The ERS situation and outlook reports and periodicals analyze the current situation and economic data of other business sectors to forecast agricultural market prices and income. ERS monographs offer economic analysis in the areas of trade, production, rural development, farm inputs, and other topics. They have reports and data sets for the U.S. and some foreign markets. ERS's Foreign Agricultural Trade of the U.S. is one example of the type of international data they provide.

The NASS data are the U.S. estimates used by the WAOB for the World Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE). The WAOB issues regular forecasts of U.S. and world supply and demand prospects for major agricultural commodities. The monthly WASDE report is a good example of the type of information provided by WAOB.

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I know someone who works for NASS, how can I find them?

Use the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Telephone Directory.

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Last modified: 11/05/10