Farmers Encouraged to Complete NASS Surveys

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 27, 2016) — The number of farmers completing the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) crop survey has been declining in recent years – and that is bad news for farmers across Indiana. This is a trend the Indiana corn and soybean checkoff organizations are working to reverse.
As NASS crop surveys fill mailboxes throughout Indiana, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance are encouraging farmers to carefully complete the confidential survey to ensure the accurate funding of farm programs, like Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC).
“More than 90 percent of corn and soybean farmers have chosen ARC as their risk management program of choice in the 2014 Farm Bill, and payment calculations are a direct function of the results of the NASS surveys,” said Sarah Delbecq, a farmer from Dekalb County who serves on the ICMC board of directors.
Delbecq also serves on the Public Policy Action Team for National Corn Growers Association which launched a national effort this fall to boost completion rates of the NASS Crop Survey across the U.S. She explained that if a county does not have enough data from the surveys, another data source will be used to calculate the payment.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean that those other data sources are ‘bad’, but they create inconsistencies in program implementation across the state,” Delbecq said. “The NASS crop survey is fundamental to the equitable distribution and implementation of farm payments and programs—and it relies on farmers supplying their information.” 

The annual NASS crop survey is a confidential survey given to farmers throughout the country. Data from the survey informs the administration of farm programs, like ARC. Farm survey responses have been declining in recent years, resulting in NASS’s inability to publish reliable data for some counties across the country.
“There has been consternation over yield estimates for counties in the last couple years involving the ARC program. To have accurate yield estimates for the ARC program, we need to have good data and that data should come from farmer-completed NASS surveys,” said David Rodibaugh, ISA director from Jasper County.
The NASS surveys are vital for the implementation of farm programs. The NASS crop survey was designed by the USDA to determine county yields and aid in establishing price elections for various crops and make decisions about certain farm programs.
“If one county in a crop reporting district does not receive enough responses, then another county in the district may also be withheld,” Delbecq explained.  “In 2015, five counties in Indiana could not publish corn yields in 2015 because of insufficient responses, and two counties were withheld because neighboring counties could not be published.”
In 2015, most Indiana counties received at least 30 responses, which allowed NASS to publish data for the majority of Indiana’s counties. Delbecq, however, is concerned that some counties might be very close to that minimum number of completed surveys and could be in danger of having unpublished county yields.

“Indiana counties generally provide enough response rates to generate the needed data, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the data is the best we can offer,” Delbecq said. “Every farmer should submit the survey so that we have a robust data set that accurately reflects the state of Indiana farming and programs can be implemented accordingly.”

After traveling to Washington D.C. for the August USDA crop report, Rodibaugh knows that completing the farmer surveys is important because the data collected from those surveys benefits all farmers and informs how important programs are delivered.
“We can’t rely on third party sources and best guesses for farm programs and payments, which is why it’s very important that farmers provide their information accurately,” he said. “All farmers benefit when this data is collected and distilled. For the average farmer, the NASS surveys are usually the best source of information.”
For more information about NASS Crop Surveys, visit

Contact: Megan Kuhn, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, 317-614-0377 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Indiana Corn Marketing Council was established by the Indiana General Assembly to promote the interest of corn growers in the state and manage corn 
checkoff funds. The Council is composed of 17 voting producer directors and seven appointed industry, and government representatives.
The Indiana Soybean Alliance works to enhance the viability of Indiana soybean farmers through the effective and efficient investment of soybean checkoff funds and the development of sound policies that protect and promote the interest of Indiana soybean farmers. The ISA is working to build new markets for soybeans through the promotion of biodiesel, livestock, international marketing, new soybean uses, aquaculture, and research. ISA is led by an elected farmer board that directs investments of the soybean checkoff funds on behalf of more than 28,000 Indiana soybean farmers and promotes policies on behalf of the ISA’s 950 dues-paying members.
This communication was funded with corn and soybean checkoff dollars.