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Growing in Agriculture

Growing in Agriculture


The Survey Says….


By Lucas Lentsch, Secretary of Agriculture


Thursday, September 24, 2015


It seems like every week, we see new reports about how information on everything from soil conditions to crop yields is impacting agriculture. Having accurate data allows farmers and ranchers to be more efficient than ever.


Almost every farmer or rancher has received a call, a survey in the mail or an in-person visit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The famer or rancher is asked to answer questions about his or her operation.


In agriculture, we tend to be a bit private. We don’t always feel comfortable sharing our individual operation information. While it may seem that these questions are intrusive, the information gained from these surveys is critically important to our industry.


For example, this information is used by USDA and Congress to accurately gauge participation and costs of agricultural legislation and programs. The data collected is used by USDA’s Risk Management Agency to administer certain crop insurance programs and by the Farm Service Agency to administer vital farm bill programs. Accurate crop production numbers are also used to implement pest and disease prevention programs where they will be most useful.


Producers often ask surveyors, “Is any other industry asked to provide the type of information we are asked to provide?” The answer is yes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys nearly all types of households and industries covering a variety of areas. One survey involves gathering information about employment, a critical gauge of the health of the country’s economy.


Here at the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, we, along with our partners, have recently released our annual South Dakota Agriculture Bulletin. The book is a compilation of all NASS reports issued throughout the year. Additionally, it includes a study that used NASS data, based on producer surveys, to measure the economic impact our industry has in the state. For instance, it showed us that agriculture generates a $25.6 billion economic impact in this state each year and provides employment for more than 115,000 people.


The information we use and the decisions that are made based on that information is only as good as the responses NASS receives from you and me. This is why it is so important to answer those surveys and answer them accurately. So, during your next survey, please know the value of the information provided ensures the accurate telling of South Dakota’s ag story.


The 2015 South Dakota Agriculture Statistics Bulletin is available in online at http://sdda.sd.gov under the “Happening Now” section. I encourage you to check it out!