Prices Paid Surveys and Indexes

NASS conducts five surveys every year in mid-March to collect information from agribusinesses on the prices producers paid for recent sales of approximately 450 key agricultural inputs. The prices paid surveys collect information on agricultural chemicals (including fertilizer), farm machinery, feeds, fuels, and retail seed.

Each survey collects data from selected panels of around 2,000 agribusinesses in the 48 contiguous states, although not all states survey items in all categories.  From the data collected, NASS computes average national and regional prices agricultural producers pay for the items surveyed, and publishes the price estimates in the April issue of Agricultural Prices and in QuickStats, the NASS searchable database. Feeder livestock price estimates and feed-price ratios are published monthly.

Prices Paid Indexes

NASS uses the price estimates to calculate the Index of Production Items, which is one of five components in the overall Prices Paid Index for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW). The other PPITW component indexes are a) interest paid and interest rate on farm indebtedness, b) taxes paid on farm real estate, c) wage rates paid to hired farm labor, and d) prices paid for family living items.

NASS publishes the PPITW and the component and subcomponent indexes monthly in both Agricultural Prices and QuickStats, using additional data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS). The indexes measure the change in the level of prices producers pay for production inputs, interest, taxes, wage rates, and family living items relative to a base period (1990‑1992=100).  Revisions to the indexes are published monthly in QuickStats and quarterly in Agricultural Prices (January, April, July, October).

NASS also converts the indexes to the parity base period (1910-1914=100), as required by statute, to create the Parity Index.

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How the Indexes Are Used

Prices paid indexes are inputs for a number of important functions performed by various agencies:

  • NASS uses the Parity Index to compute parity prices under the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 as amended, Title III, Subtitle A, Sections 301a.
  • The Agricultural Marketing Service uses state milk marketing orders, prices paid indexes, parity prices, and import prices to determine support prices.
  • NASS publishes private grazing fee data in the January Agricultural Prices under an agreement with the Forest Service (FS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
  • FS and BLM use the private grazing fees, the November-October average beef cattle price, and the Beef Cattle Production Index (1964-1968=100) to determine the Federal grazing fee lease rate under the Public Rangeland Improvement Act.
  • The Economic Research Service uses average price data for selected machinery, retail seeds, and fertilizer, chemical, and petroleum products to determine annual cost of production budgets under the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990. These data series are essential for reliable estimates of costs for wheat, feed grains, cotton, tobacco, sugar, and dairy.
  • NASS derives feed price ratios from prices received data and modeled ratios where applicable. These feed price ratios are available historically in QuickStats.
  • Producer/contractor production agreements are set using component indexes.
  • USDA, universities, market researchers, and others use prices paid time series data to conduct economic analyses relating to farm income and alternative marketing policies.
Additional Information

For information about the Prices Paid survey and index methodology, please click here.

For information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Agricultural Statistics Hotline at (800) 727‑9540, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, or e-mail:

Last Modified: 11/09/2018