County Agricultural Production

County Agricultural Production Survey

The County Agricultural Production Survey (CAPS) provides data needed to estimate acreage and production of selected crops at the county level in the federal program. CAPS is comprised of two annual surveys: one to collect small grains data and another to collect data on row crops. CAPS for small grains is conducted in 32 states while CAPS for row crops is conducted in 37 states. All counties in these states must be represented in the sample. The commodities collected on the survey are specific to each state. A federal county estimates program is defined by NASS and reviewed following each Census of Agriculture. Additional states and/or commodities are added to the survey based on external funding agreements with local cooperators.

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Program Content

The current list of small grain commodities for federal county estimates includes barley, oats, Durum wheat, other spring wheat, and winter wheat. Row crop federal county estimates include corn for grain and silage, soybeans, sorghum, peanuts, rice, and cotton. Operators are asked to provide information for their entire farm. For small grains and field crops, farmers are asked for planted acres, area harvested, yield, and quantity harvested.


County yield data resulting from this survey are used by USDA for various programs, including those administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Risk Management Agency (RMA). For example, when a natural disaster such as drought or flooding impacts crop production, these data are crucial to the agricultural industry. Other government agencies, universities, and research organizations use county estimate data to determine many production and economic values on a small area basis. County estimates are the only source of yearly localized estimates.


The CAPS is conducted annually as two surveys with each one occurring at the end of the corresponding harvest season. Data on small grains are collected in August through October while data on row crops are collected from November to January.


The target population is all farms and ranches in each state in the survey. For CAPS, a supplemental sample is drawn using similar methodology to the quarterly Agricultural Survey (formerly Crops/Stocks). The supplemental CAPS sample for small grains is appended to the data from the September Agricultural survey to provide adequate sample sizes for county level estimation. Similarly, the final sample for row crops is comprised of the December Agricultural survey sample as well as the CAPS supplemental sample for row crops. Overall, sample size targets are set for each commodity in the survey. The desired number of samples for each commodity are controlled with a minimum overall sample size.

All modes of data collection are used for this survey. However, most of the data is collected via mail and Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI). Responses by commodity are monitored, and nonresponse follow up is focused on counties where insufficient data has been collected.

Once the data are collected, summaries compute totals and ratios at the county level. For all commodities in the federal program, the survey results and administrative data from FSA and RMA are used as inputs to small area estimation models to create the final county level estimates of planted and harvested acreages. County level yield models use survey results and the National Commodity Crop Productivity Index (NCCPI) as their inputs. The county level modeled estimates are benchmarked to previously released state totals.

Related Programs

Agricultural Survey
Census of Agriculture

Last Modified: 04/17/2024