- What County Data Does NASS Publish?
There are two independent sets of data collected and published by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) which contain county crop and livestock information.
(1) The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years and, by definition, is a complete accounting of the crops and livestock produced on all farms and ranches and current inventories of livestock on all farms for the Census year.
(2) NASS prepares and publishes crop annual county data to support the USDA farm program (major grains, oilseeds, edible beans, sugar crops, cotton and tobacco). County data are prepared and published for additional commodities through our cooperator program (hay, potato, minor oil seeds, and fruit), with each of the state departments of agriculture. The cooperator program also supports the annual livestock inventory data by county. The annual county data are based on reports from a sample of farms and ranches.
(Note: A national program for cattle inventory was initiated in 2001.)
- What Are Districts?
Agricultural Statistics Districts (ASD) are defined groupings of counties in each State, by geography, climate, and cropping practices. The geographic attributes include soil type, terrain, and elevation (mountains). The basic components of climate are mean temperature, annual precipitation and length of growing season. These factors influence the crops grown, the need to conserve soil moisture, and the use of irrigation (cropping practices).
- What are the geographic boundaries of the Counties and Districts?
- What are the names and codes for the Counties and Districts?
- What are the commodity codes?
- What is the Census of Agriculture and It's Frequency?
The Census of Agriculture, taken every five years, is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and many other areas. For America’s farmers and ranchers, the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future and their responsibility.
- How is the NASS Annual Program for Crop and Livestock Production Conducted?
NASS's annual program focuses on agricultural production for mainstream crops, livestock and associated inventories. The program is based on a series of sample surveys to collect farm level data to produce the State and U.S. crop forecasts and estimates published in the NASS Agricultural Statistics Board reports. NASS produces approximately 400 reports each year with information released on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis depending on the commodity program. The largest single survey NASS conducts each year is the June Agricultural Survey. This survey has two parts - a list sample frame and an area sample frame.
- What is an area frame sample?
The area frame, which is essentially the entire land mass of the United States, ensures the inclusion of the entire U.S. farm population. The land in each State is classified into land use categories by intensity of cultivation using a variety of map products, satellite imagery, and computer software packages. These land use classifications range from intensively cultivated areas, to marginally cultivated or grazing areas, to urban areas. The land in each use category is then divided into segments ranging from about one square mile in cultivated areas to 0.1 square mile in urban areas. About 10,000 sample segments are selected, at varying rates, by land use classification. Approximately 50,000 operators who farm in these segments will be interviewed during the June Agricultural Survey.
- What is a list frame sample?
The list frame contains the names and addresses of all known farms and ranches NASS has obtained from various sources. Each farm is classified by operation characteristics such as number of corn acres or number of cattle. Large farms (e.g., Iowa farms with more than 5,000 acres of cropland) are sampled at high rates, while small farms (e.g., farms with less than 50 acres of cropland) are randomly selected at very low rates. A sample of about 75,000 farms is selected for each of the quarterly Crops and Hogs (June, September, December and March) surveys. Sample sizes for the January Cattle and Sheep surveys are 50,000 and 10,000 farms, respectively.
Data from the area and list frame samples are expanded and combined using multiple-frame statistical methodology which ensures that all farms are represented in the summary totals and that each farm is included only once. These samples are designed to produce estimates at the State and/or U.S. levels only.
- What is the Annual County Data Program?
The end-of-season December survey is supplemented with a mailing to a county sample of about 300,000 farm operators (~15 percent of the 2.19 million farms) to collect information to support the County Data program. The responses from this supplemental sample are combined with those from the December Quarterly Survey and aggregated to a County Summary.
The county data are "assembled" starting from the State estimate and working back to the county and are published by each NASS Field Office and loaded to the On-Line-Database (Published Estimates or Quick Stats Data Base). The following is a brief outline of the process to produce the annual county data, using corn for grain as an example. The State Corn for Grain estimate, published in the Crop Production Summary each January, is the total to which the counties must add. The County Summary, in combination with administrative data from various sources (other USDA agencies, cotton ginners, etc.), is the basis for the annual county data for crop acreage, yield and production, and livestock inventories. Agricultural Statistics Districts are defined groupings of counties in each State, by geography, climate, and cropping practices. Agricultural Statistics District (ASD) totals are set first because the greatest data accuracy occurs with a larger number of reports. The sum of the ASD's must equal the State estimate. After the ASD's are set, the county values in each district are set. The counties in each district must sum to the district total.
- Are data published for all counties?
Because NASS uses sample surveys, it may not be possible to publish information for all counties. In fact, SSO's generally establish a minimum value for publication. In most cases, unpublished (minor) counties are grouped to a Combined Counties total within each ASD. In addition to minor counties, concentrations of animals (or birds) may limit the publication of livestock inventories for some counties to avoid disclosure of individual operations. Some States publish selected species/class inventories or individual data items at the ASD level only to avoid disclosure and still provide information for major production areas within the State.
- Are all commodities included in the Annual County Data program?
National Program. The national portion of the County Data program focuses on
the major grains, oilseeds, cotton, dry edible beans, sugar crops and tobacco.
Beginning in 2001, cattle inventory was added to the national program. Cooperative
agreements with other USDA agencies and general support for the Farm Program
provide the funding for this group of commodities.
State (Cooperator) Program. NASS maintains cooperative
agreements with each State Department of Agriculture and/or Land Grant University
to conduct a joint statistics program that supports both the national and State
needs. The cooperative agreements eliminate duplication of effort and produce
a cost efficient information program. A significant portion of the County Data
is the product of these agreements. The livestock and poultry (cattle, hogs,
chickens, etc.) inventories and hay, potato (Irish), sweet potato, apple, and
peach production are prepared and published (State Information) as required by each State's Department of Agriculture program. Local (State) funding may limit information availability for a specie(s), commodity, data item(s) or year(s), including data for some major producing States.
- Why aren't all States available for some commodities?
The livestock county data and data for hay, potatoes (Irish), sweet potatoes, apples and peaches are prepared as required by each State's Department of Agriculture program. Local (State) funding may limit data availability for a specie(s), commodity, data item(s) or year(s), including some major production States. All available data are included in the On-Line-Database. Only States preparing county or Agricultural Statistics District (ASD) data have entries in the Database.
If data are needed for all counties for a selected commodity, the Census of Agriculture most likely will have data for All States. However, some counties may not be published to avoid disclosure of individual operations. The general guideline for determining disclosure is less than three (3) reports for the item or one operations has more than 60 percent of the total. The Census county data are available on CD-ROM as a custom query database.
- Publication exceptions for Livestock data.
The States with no cooperator program are listed by species. The data items
available vary by State based on the cooperator program.
Cattle & Calves and Milk Production: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont.
Program Change: NASS instituted a National program for major cattle producing states beginning with the 2001 Inventory. Several of the states listed above will have annual county data beginning with the year 2001.
Hogs and Pigs: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming.
Sheep & Lambs and Wool Production: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Vermont.
Chickens and Egg Production: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
- Does NASS update the County Data in later years?
NASS has a policy of reviewing data the year after initial publication. Based on new administrative data, States may revise the previous year of county data. These changes are made at the same time the "current year" data are prepared. Following the Census of Agriculture, every five years, NASS reviews the data for intervening years and revises data when appropriate. Generally, revisions are small and a limited number of States and years are changed for any commodity.