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Surveys On Route To Farmers

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The Prospective Plantings report is eagerly awaited by agriculture. It's the first time analysts can see what farmers plan to plant, but to get the data to back up the report, farmers have to fill out surveys by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Last week, they sent out the surveys by mail.

Greg Thessen a the Upper Midwest director of NASS says they ask about planting, how much grain is still in storage, and some questions on cash rent.

Those surveys go directly to the farmers, it takes a few minutes to fill out, and with large farmer participation, producers can see the data. That helps them because they can make changes to what they plant and their marketing strategy.

Thessen says, "It also puts them on a level playing field with other folks that they do business with because a lot of those folks also subscribe or have their own private information gathering network and then, third, I'd say it helps stabilize prices."

There are other reports set to be released soon as well, NASS has already started mailing out the Agricultural Resource Management survey and have started to do personal interviews.

That one shows detailed financial information, like how much farmers put in to run their farm and how it helps local economies.

NASS has also mailed out the cash rent survey, which is normally every other year, but Thessen says it is one of the most requested informational release by farmers. So they're doing it again this year.

Thessen wants to remind farmers that NASS doesn't have any political influence. There are no political appointees in the department. Thessen says when their reports are released, that's the first time even the Secretary of Agriculture sees it.

"I'd just mention that they're all confidential." Thessen says, "They're confidential by law. All of our, the only folks that see anything a farmer reports is actually a NASS employee or one of our representatives."