How NASS Collects Data and Keeps it Secure

It’s happening more and more often, a security breach of one sort or another.  So, with  survey season kicking into high gear for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service – NASS wants producers to know they can be confident in their commitment to data confidentiality and security.

USDA Agricultural Statistics Board Chairperson Mark Harris says there are many ways NASS collects data – including through mail, personal interviews, telephone interviews and online…

“During different parts of the season we are also able to utilize satellite information once the crops are growing. And information that farmers respond to with other agencies like Farm Service.”

Law requires NASS to keep all individual responses confidential. When NASS collects information – Harris says the agency ensures security and confidentiality of respondent data through a specific process…

“When we put these into the computers, they are always behind at least two fire walls, USDA and NASS. We never keep the names and the data together. We train our staff to ensure the privacy of the information is respected.”

Harris says NASS notifies individuals in advance of surveys to let them know they will be contacted…

“If you get a call without seeing a pre-survey letter or questionnaire, then they can as to supply information about who they work for, via ID cards or local office info if its over the phone.”

This year – Harris says several of the survey programs that had been cut due to budget reductions will be returning along with the key spring and summer surveys…

“The June Agricultural surveys that set the planted acres for spring crops and update the winter wheat crops, we will contact over 69,000 farmers. We also have a June area survey that we will contact farmers in 11,000 area segments across the country. There is also a June Hog and Pig survey. In July there is a Cattle and Calf survey that we contact over 9800 ranchers.”

Harris says this year’s June crop stocks and livestock surveys will be particularly important as producers across the U.S. are dealing with different challenges.

 

 


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.