More than 8,000 agricultural landowners throughout the West are receiving surveys this month from the National Agricultural Statistics Service gauging the economic health of their industries.
The lengthy, mandatory questionnaires ask owner-operators and landlords about farm costs, improvements made to farmland and buildings, demographics and other characteristics.
The survey, called Tenure, Ownership and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL), is a follow-up to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, whose results were unveiled earlier this year.
The last TOTAL survey was done about 10 years ago, said Vic Tolomeo, NASS’ Pacific Region director in Sacramento.
“To me it’s one of the more important ones that we do because it does a good job of measuring agricultural industry health,” said Chris Mertz, the agency’s northwest regional director in Olympia, Wash.
“You see a lot of reports that we publish that show income is higher due to prices, but then when you match it with expenses, you get the full story of how agriculture is,” Mertz said.
The agency will send out nearly 3,100 surveys in California, where the Census of Agriculture counted more than 11.6 million acres of land that were rented or leased, Tolomeo.
Nearly 2,100 surveys will be sent to landowners in Washington, more than 2,000 in Idaho and about 850 in Oregon, Mertz said. More than 80,000 farmland owners and producers nationwide will receive the TOTAL forms, according to a news release.
“It provides an up-to-date ... benchmark picture of economics and the resources available to agricultural production,” Tolomeo said. “It looks at the revenue side and the expenses side ... It gives USDA an accurate picture of the entirety of agriculture instead of certain estimates we do, like livestock estimates or crop estimates.”
Landowners should receive their surveys by the end of December, and NASS officials will contact property owners who haven’t responded to answer any questions they may have, Tolomeo said.
Individual responses will be kept confidential, officials said. NASS will publish the results in August on its Quick Stats website, quickstats.nass.usda.gov .