NASS Surveying Farmers for the Agriculture Resource Management Survey


USDA representatives are spending the next few months conducting the last phase of the 2015 Agricultural Resource Management Survey, or ARMS. The annual survey, administered by the National Ag Statistics Service and the USDA Economic Research Service, serves as the primary source for farm sector finical performance. Jim MacDonald of USDA’s Economic Research Service explains the survey…

“The only large representative survey that links field performance, yields, production, things like that, to farm level financial performance, and to farm household financial well being.”

Farms were first contacted last June regarding the survey, and some farmers were surveyed in phase two last fall. For phase three, NASS previously mailed the survey over the winter holiday to nearly 40,000 farms and ranches. Now, MacDonald says interviewers representing the National Agricultural Statistics Service will be visiting farmers and ranchers to help them finish the survey…

“We rely on about 1,500 enumerators who live across the country in every state, many are retired farmers or farm wives, and they work for an organization called the National Organization of the State Departments of Agriculture. So, they’re paid by the state departments of agriculture, they’re organized and trained by ERS and NASS, and they go out and help the farmers answer the questionnaires that we prepare and mail out to them.”

The survey includes farm household income, production expenses and other farm financial information. He says that information is used to inform policy makers and a broad spectrum of companies within the agriculture industry…

“The data that comes out of this survey is major support for farm policy decision-making.  Now, policy decisions would get made whether we collected this data or not, but I think they are made more effectively and work better for farmers if   there’s accurate information provided out of this survey.

Secondly, the data helps the whole structure of agribusiness work more efficiently.  Fertilizer makers, for example, use our source data on narrowness of rows, and how many feet and plantings in an acre to decide on their fertilizer deliveries.

The last thing I’d say, fewer and fewer people in either of those sectors, either in policy making or private business have a background in agriculture these days.  This survey gives farmers the opportunity to tell their story.”

Results of the 2015 survey USDA is compiling now will be available later this year…

“The first reports are going to come out this august, there’s an expenditure report that NASS produces, and our initial forecasts of farm income based on this data come out at this same time from ERS.

We have some early reports on what we found in Phase II and Phase III that are released through that fall, and we have later research programs going on after that.”

Farmers can submit their survey responses online at www dot ag counts dot USDA dot gov (

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.