ARMS survey asks farmers for policy input

Published 12:40 am Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Covington County farmers may soon have the opportunity to voice their input to the federal government on issues important to the agricultural industry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will conduct a national Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) over the next few months. This survey will serve as the primary source for information on production practices, resource use and the economic well-being of America’s farm operations and farm households.

Chuck Simon, county extension coordinator, said surveys like ARMS give farmers a voice to policy makers in Washington, D.C.

“These are important surveys because there is a lot of money that comes out of Washington, and a lot of people look at these surveys to determine appropriations and that sort of thing,” Simon said. “It’s good that we have these surveys because it provides concrete data that can shape policy that would be beneficial to farmers.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) is conducting the survey. Between February and March, NASS field offices will contact 37,000 farmers by either mail or phone to complete the survey. Farmers will be asked to provide data on their operating expenditures, production costs and household characteristics.

“Just about every federal policy and program that affects U.S. farmers and farm families is based on information from ARMS,” said William Weaver, director of the NASS Alabama Field Office. “This information is used not just by USDA and Congress, but also by ALFA, agribusinesses and others who make the decisions that shape the future of Alabama agriculture.

Simon said the survey’s sample size is relatively small, which makes it even more essential for any local farmers to fill out the survey as completely as possible.

“It might just be a small handful in the state that might get this survey,” he said. “If you get one, I would say to fill out as much as you can and as far as you feel comfortable.”

This survey, like all NASS surveys, is completely confidential. No individual producer or operation will be identified and all information provided by respondents is confidential. All NASS reports are available online at