A sample of Lawrence-area farmers and ranchers will receive a phone call, mail questionnaire or personal visit in coming weeks as part of an annual nationwide survey.
Eldon Thiessen, of the Kansas Agricultural Statistics, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture collects information from about 125,000 producers across the country and releases the data in a series of reports June 30. The survey will focus on estimates of crop acreage, grain stocks, livestock inventories, number of farms and farmland area, and other statistics.
"The numbers are combined from all the states to provide information to Kansas and the USDA in Washington (D.C.)," he said.
More than 4,000 Kansas farmers and ranchers will be randomly selected to take part in the survey. Thiessen said KAS maintains a list of farm operators and uses a statistical sampling procedure to compile a representative sample.
"WE GROUP farms by the size of operation and pick a sample of each group," he said. "There's such a large number of small farms in the state that we might talk to 200 of them. We might have only 30 farmers with very large operations and we'd probably talk to all of them, their impact is so great."
KAS officials also designates certain land areas known as segments they visit for personal interviews with the operators, Thiessen said.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture contracts a group of people through the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture to collect data for the survey. The surveyors reside throughout the state, and conduct the legwork for all of the state's surveys.
Thiessen said the information provided by farmers is used exclusively for the state report. "None is ever released as an individual report," he said. "They are kept strictly confidential."
THE JUNE agricultural survey is the largest of several conducted each year by KAS, Thiessen said. Officials also survey producers in September for information on the harvest of wheat and other small grains, in December for details of the harvest of sorghum, soybeans, corn and other summer crops, and in March for a prediction of what and how much acreage farmers intend to plant for the coming year.
The June survey findings will go to government policymakers and farm organizations, which use the results to help develop farm policy positions. But Thiessen said the findings also play a key role in predicting the agriculture production for the state and country.
"We live in a country where we have a free enterprise economy," he said. "It is important to know what the supply is to make the market place function effectively. Whether or not there are statistics, prices will respond to the supply. Statistics help the market respond to supply in favor of producers."