Agricultural Resource Management (ARMS)

The ARMS is the primary source of information to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the public on a broad range of issues about U.S. agricultural resource use, costs, and farm sector financial conditions. The ARMS is the only source of information available for objective evaluation of many critical issues related to agriculture and the rural economy. The survey is conducted in collaboration with the Economic Research Service (ERS).

The sample is designed to provide coverage of all farms in the 48 contiguous States plus state level data for 15 major cash receipts states. The farm population includes all establishments which produced and sold, or would normally have sold, at least $1,000 of agricultural products during the previous year. A sample from the NASS list frame is supplemented by a sample of area tracts to ensure complete coverage.


NASS publishes two reports from ARMS. The first is called Agricultural Chemical Usage - Field Crops and is released in May following the Phase II data collection. The second report is the Farm Production Expenditures, compiled from the Phase III, is released in August. ERS prepares several state, regional, and national reports using ARMS data including Commodity Production Costs and Returns, Farm Operating and Financial Characteristics and the Annual Report to Congress on the Status of Family Farms.

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Program Content

The ARMS collects production practices and cost of production data on selected commodities. The ARMS also collects detailed whole farm financial information from a representative sample of farms and ranches across the country. ARMS is collected in three data collection phases:

The initial phase, ARMS Screening survey, collects general farm data such as crops grown, livestock inventory, and value of sales. Screening data are used to qualify (or screen) farms for the other phases.

The second phase, (Phase II), collects data associated with agricultural production practices, resource use, and variable costs of production for specific commodities. Commodities are surveyed on a predetermined rotation with up to five commodities surveyed in a given year. Farm operators provide data on fertilizer and nutrient applications, pesticide applications, pest management practices, and irrigation.

The final phase, (Phase III) collects whole farm finance, operator characteristics, and farm household information. Farm operators provide data on farm operating expenditures, capital improvements, assets, and debt for agricultural production. In addition, operators provide data on farm-related income, government payments, the source and amount of off-farm income, and characteristics of themselves and their household.


Farm organizations, commodity groups, agribusiness, Congress, and the USDA use information from ARMS to evaluate the financial performance of farm/ranch businesses and to make policy decisions affecting agriculture. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) uses ARMS data to calculate the farm sector portion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the nation.

ARMS data provide the necessary background information to support evaluations of the relationships among agricultural production, resources and the environment.


The three phase survey is conducted annually. The initial phase is conducted from May through July. Phase II is conducted from September through December. Phase III is conducted from February through April with the reference period the previous year. Respondents sampled in Phase II are asked to complete a Phase III report. Data from both phases provide the link between agricultural resource use and farm financial conditions.


Operators are selected to assure adequate coverage by state and region and to minimize reporting burden. Strata are based on state, value of agricultural sales and type of farm. Phase I screening is performed by mail and phone. Operators that are in business and/or have the commodity of interest are eligible to be selected for Phase II or Phase III. The commodity of interest is determined by the ERS. Phases II data are collected by personal interview. Phase III data are collected by mail, phone, and personal interview.

Special Features

The efficiency and strength of the ARMS design allows the survey to address policy questions relevant to resource use or financial issues. For example, commodity versions are rotated every 5-6 years to focus on resource use and production costs for specific commodities.

Related Programs

Census of Agriculture
Fruit and Vegetable Chemical Use

Last Modified: 05/04/2018