In light of funding reductions in fiscal year (FY) 2011 and the likelihood of additional reductions in FY 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) conducted deliberate reviews of all programs against mission- and user-based criteria, aimed at finding cost savings and forward-thinking business efficiencies so that key timely, accurate and useful data remains available in service to agriculture.
As a result, the agency is discontinuing or reducing a wide range of agricultural survey programs. The decision to eliminate or reduce these reports was not made lightly, but it was nevertheless necessary, given the funding situation. Because of the timing of the agency's survey work during the coming year, these decisions are necessary now.
"NASS decided to eliminate the only annual report they provide for the sheep and goat industry," commented Peter Orwick, executive director for the American Sheep Industry Association. "Our requests this fall to continue the report were not met, and we have not been able to identify an alternative vehicle to conduct a national inventory count.
"The department's timing could not have come at a worse time. Because of the drought in Texas, projections indicate that half of the sheep and goats in the nation's largest sheep-goat-producing state have been sold into possibly more than a dozen states around the country. A January 2012 report would have helped analysts document one of the largest shifts in sheep and goat numbers of the past 20 years and allowed companies to make decisions on product marketing and lamb and wool procurement," continued Orwick.
The reports being affected include:
January Sheep and Goat Report - Eliminate
Annual Reports on Farm Numbers, Land in Farms and Livestock Operations - Eliminate
Catfish and Trout Reports - Eliminate
Annual Floriculture Report - Eliminate
Chemical Use Reports - Reduce frequency of commodity coverage
July Cattle Report - Eliminate
Distiller Co-Products for Feed Survey - Cancel
Annual Bee and Honey Report - Eliminate
Annual Hops Production Report - Eliminate
Monthly Potato Stocks Report - Reduce from monthly to quarterly
Annual Mink Report - Eliminate
Fruit and Vegetable in-season forecast and estimates- Reduce from monthly and quarterly to annual report
Nursery Report - Eliminate
Rice Stocks June and September reports - Eliminate but continue January, March and August reports
Recognizing the importance of NASS's data products and services to U.S. agriculture, NASS will make available similar data either less frequently or within the every 5-year Census of Agriculture. The next census will be conducted beginning January 2013 to reflect activities in the 2012 calendar year.