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NASS Surveys Provide U.S. Agricultural Supply Data for Trade

Posted by Kevin Barnes, Associate Administrator, NASS in Research and Science Trade
May 17, 2018
A grain elevator
Trucks deliver soybeans for inspection and purchase, then the soybeans are loaded onto barges for shipment to New Orleans and overseas customers. The USDA NASS June Grain Stocks report will indicate how much grain is in storage as of June 1 in the United States while the June Acreage report reflects farmer-reported principal crop acreage planted as of June 1, valuable supply insights for domestic and world markets. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

With May being World Trade Month, it is worth noting that the source of data to determine the U.S. supply of crops and livestock is America’s farmers and ranchers who fill out surveys from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). These statistics feed directly into the monthly World Supply and Demand Estimates report (WASDE), which shows how much food, feed, fuel, and fiber are available or expected to be available around the world throughout the year. These data are available free of charge to anyone who wants them and are widely regarded as the gold standard.

Did you know that during the 2017/2018 growing season, farmers and ranchers across the United States produced an estimated 47.4 million metric tons of the world’s estimated 758.4 million metric tons of wheat, according to the May 10, 2018 WASDE report? The same report forecasts world wheat production for the 2018/2019 growing season to be 747.8 million metric tons – 10.6 million metric tons less than last year, of which 49.6 million metric tons is forecast to be U.S. production. NASS collects and reports these U.S. data, and those for dozens of other agricultural products, every month with information gathered directly from farmers and ranchers. Additional information is collected and reported every quarter.

A series of quarterly reports each year – March Prospective Plantings, June Acreage, September Small Grains Summary, and the January Annual Crop Production reports, along with quarterly Grain Stocks reports – give important insights into U.S. crop supply at telling points during the year. Currently, NASS is conducting the June Agricultural and Grain Stocks surveys and asking more than 100,000 farmers, ranchers, and grain storage operators to report actual planted acreage and stocks for use in determining domestic consumption and trade. Survey data, combined with information from geospatial, field level yield surveys, weather, and other sources, form the final NASS estimates.

In addition to producing high quality statistics about U.S. agriculture, NASS has been helping to establish and improve agricultural statistics systems in countries around the world since the end of World War II. Food insecurity, shortfalls in regional food production, and lack of reliable information on the agricultural sector are major concerns in many countries. Improved agricultural data systems can provide more and better information to address these issues.

NASS specialists provide technical assistance and training on a reimbursable basis in all aspects of statistical surveys and data systems. The benefits of such assistance and resulting stronger, consistent statistical organizations extend beyond serving the interests of the various countries. By helping other countries improve their agricultural statistics systems, USDA’s ability to assess world food and fiber production is also improved.

USDA NASS joins in the celebration of World Trade Month. Visit to learn more about the amazing breadth and volume of food, feed, fuel and fiber raised by America’s farmers and ranchers to feed the world.

Category/Topic: Research and Science Trade