centers for access to confidential data in a protected environment. These new forms of dissemination have increased the need for training, formal mechanisms for communication with users, and tightened procedures for control over the data.
The most ambitious new product is the ERS-managed online ARMS briefing room.1 This website provides summary data as well as extensive ARMS documentation and access to questionnaires. The data available on the website are retrievable in the form of tailored reports and summary tables. The tables provide means and standard error estimates, they can be saved as comma separated value (CSV) or Excel files, and they have a capacity for graphical display of data.
There are several means of accessing less aggregated data. The ERS produces special tabulations, typically for government agencies. ERS has provided data and research support using ARMS directly to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Secretary, the Office of the Chief Economist, Research, Education and Economics, the National Resource Conservation Service (within NASS), the Farm Service Agency, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Risk Management Agency. ERS has also used the data to respond to requests from Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, universities, and international organizations.
The myriad uses of ARMS data require sophisticated access to data in order to depict increasingly complicated relationships. For example, recent analyses of the financial status of farming used ARMS data to prepare outlook information for farms and farm households by type of farm, size of farm, and U.S. region; balance sheets for farms by size of farming operation; a cumulative distribution of farms by economic cost-to-output ratios; and the distribution of key commodity production by production cost level. Other examples abound. ARMS data were used to provide a wide variety of information types:
Distribution of government payments by farm size
Farm household income by farm typology
Impacts of energy price increases on farm businesses
Impacts of seed price increases
Characteristics of U.S. production of biotechnology-derived crops
Crop insurance usage by typology, commodities, and regions
Types of farm management practices