Understanding American Agriculture
Challenges for the Agricultural Resource Management Survey
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by Contract No. 53-3K06-05-1600 between the National Academy of Sciences and the United States Department of Agriculture. Support of the work of the Committee on National Statistics is provided by a consortium of federal agencies through a grant from the National Science Foundation (award number SBR-0453930). Any opinion, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2008). Understanding American Agriculture: Challenges for the Agricultural Resource Management Survey. Panel to Review USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey. Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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PANEL TO REVIEW USDA’S AGRICULTURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT SURVEY
BRUCE GARDNER (Chair),
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland
WALTER J. ARMBRUSTER,
Farm Foundation, Oak Brook, Illinois
Statistics Canada, Ottawa (Retired)
RAY D. BOLLMAN,
Agriculture Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa
CYNTHIA Z.F. CLARK,
Methodology Directorate, Office for National Statistics, United Kingdom
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
ANI L. KATCHOVA,
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Microeconomic Surveys Unit, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System
Department of Economics, Iowa State University
Center for Survey Methodology, Iowa State University
BOBBY R. PHILLS,
Small Fruits Program, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Sociology Department and Joint Program in Survey Methodology, University of Maryland
ROBERT D. TORTORA,
Survey Research Center, The Gallup Organization, Washington, DC
MICHAEL K. WOHLGENANT,
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, North Carolina State University
THOMAS J. PLEWES, Study Director
CARYN KUEBLER, Associate Program Officer
MICHAEL SIRI, Senior Program Assistant
COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS 2007
WILLIAM F. EDDY (Chair),
Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University
Department of Economics, University of Maryland, and Joint Program in Survey Methodology
AT&T Research Laboratories, Florham Park, New Jersey
Lincoln Technologies, Inc., Waltham, Massachusetts
Department of Economics, University of Maryland
V. JOSEPH HOTZ,
Department of Economics, University of California at Los Angeles
Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
Department of Sociology, Princeton University
Department of Statistics and Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan
Division of Health Policy Research and Education, Harvard University
SAMUEL H. PRESTON,
Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania
School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard University
NORA CATE SCHAEFFER,
Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School
CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Director
This report is the result of the work by many individuals, each of whom has contributed their expertise. This section acknowledges some of the central contributions to this extensive undertaking.
First, I acknowledge and thank my fellow panel members, who gave of their time and expertise so generously, participating in seven meetings and countless other activities critical to completing this report. They shared the administrative load in their service as session moderators during the open meetings and in their participation in the lively discussions of the issues at each of those events. Their assistance in drafting this report resulted in a more comprehensive and defensible product and is greatly appreciated.
Major activities of the panel were the four public sessions, three of which were organized and conducted as formal workshops. In developing and conducting these productive workshops, the panel enjoyed outstanding support from the staff of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the Economic Research Service (ERS). Robert Bass, director of the Census and Survey Division of NASS, and Mary Bohman, director of the Resource Economics Division, served as the primary agency liaisons and facilitated our work with admirable patience and perseverance.
Jim MacDonald of ERS provided much advice, counsel, and facilitation support and was instrumental in focusing the attention of the panel on the difficult issues related to tests of inference of the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) data. He spoke before the panel on two occasions and maintained contact with the panel staff as the study emerged. Dania Ferguson of NASS assembled documents requested by the panel,
some quite old and requiring considerable research, and prepared several responses to questions submitted by the panel.
In all, staff of NASS and ERS were of great assistance to us in understanding the complex survey design and implementation that characterizes ARMS. In addition to participating in the panel’s open sessions, both NASS and ERS responded to many questions formally transmitted to the agencies. A summary of the panel’s data-gathering activities appears in Appendix A.
The committee gratefully acknowledges the excellent work of the staff of the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) and the National Research Council for support in developing and organizing the workshops and this report. The experience, wise counsel, and untiring efforts of Tom Plewes, study director for the panel, were indispensable in bringing this report to fruition. He was ably assisted by Caryn Kuebler of the CNSTAT staff, and Michael Siri provided administrative support. Michael Cohen assisted in clarifying and resolving issues related to analysis of complex survey data. William Greene provided sound advice on issues of inference in data analysis in service as an expert consultant to the panel.
We especially appreciate the participation of Constance F. Citro, director of CNSTAT, in the workshops and the preparation of this report. Her sage advice benefited the report in numerous ways.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that assist the institution in making its report as sound as possible, and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
The panel wishes to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Jason Abrevaya, Department of Economics, University of Texas at Austin; Richard N. Boisvert, Department of Agricultural Economics, Cornell University; D. Wade Brorsen, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University; Rachel Harter, National Opinion Research Center, Chicago, IL; Barrett Kirwan, Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland; Virginia Lesser, Survey Research Center, Department of Statistics, Oregon State University; Frank Potter, Statistical Services, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ; and Alan M. Zaslavsky, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Keith F. Rust, Westat,
Inc., Rockville, MD. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that the independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
Bruce Gardner, Chair
Panel to Review USDA’s Agricultural
Resource Management Survey
Acronyms and Abbreviations
AAEA American Agricultural Economics Association
ACS American Community Survey
AEM Association of Equipment Manufacturers
APHIS Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
ARDIS Agricultural and Rural Development Information System
AREI Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators
ARMS Agricultural Resource Management Survey
BEA Bureau of Economic Analysis
BLS Bureau of Labor Statistics
CAI Computer-Assisted Interviewing
CAPI Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing
CAR Commodity Cost and Returns
CASIC Computer-Assisted Survey Information Collection
CBO Congressional Budget Office
CEA Council of Economic Advisers
CEAP Conservation Effects Assessment Project
CPS Current Population Survey
CRP Conservation Reserve Program
CRR Costs and Returns Report
CSP Conservation Security Program
CSV Comma Separated Value
CV Coefficient of Variation
EDI Electronic Data Interchange
EDR Electronic Data Reporting
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
EQIP Environmental Quality Incentive Program
ERS Economic Research Service, USDA
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FAS Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA
FO U.S. Department of Agriculture State Field Office
FSA Farm Service Agency, USDA
FTE Full-Time Equivalent
FVS Farm Value Sales
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GEE Generalized Estimating Equation
GHG Greenhouse Gas
GIS Geographic Information System
GPS Global Positioning System
HEL Highly Erodible Land
IDAS Interactive Data Analysis System
IID Independent and Identically Distributed
IRS Internal Revenue Service
JPSM Joint Program in Survey Methodology
MILC Milk Income Loss Contract
NASDA National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
NASS National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA
NIPA National Income and Product Accounts
NRC National Research Council
NRCS National Resources Conservation Service, USDA
NRI National Resource Inventory
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OEPNU Office of Energy Policy and New Uses
OMB Office of Management and Budget
P-B Perry-Burt Procedure
PDA Personal Digital Assistant
PPCR Production Practices and Costs Report
PPI Producer Price Index
PPR Production Practices Report
PRISM Project to Reengineer and Integrate Statistical Methods
PSM Policy and Standards Memoranda
RDCs Research Data Centers
RMA Risk Management Agency, USDA
SAS Statistical Analysis System Software
SCF Survey of Consumer Finances
SIP Sequential Interval Poisson
TCDO Training and Career Development Office
TMDL Total Maximum Daily Loads
USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture