USDA begins ag conservation survey

Survey results will document on-farm conservation accomplishments and help develop solutions to improve environment.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is surveying 16,000 farmers and ranchers across the country through February 2017 about their conservation and production practices on cultivated and non-cultivated farmland.

The results of the 2016 "National Resources Inventory-Conservation Effects Assessment Project" (NRI-CEAP) survey will further document on-farm conservation accomplishments and develop science-based solutions that help farmers and ranchers improve the environment, according to an announcement.

“The survey will measure the environmental benefits associated with installing and using conservation practices on agricultural land,” NASS administrator Hubert Hamer said. “Responses to the survey can directly benefit producers themselves by helping leaders focus on what producers need to install conservation practices that are best for their operations environmentally and financially.”

Over the past several months, NASS contacted 25,000 farmers and ranchers to determine if their land meets the criteria to be included in the survey. Now, NASS representatives are contacting those with eligible agricultural land to schedule in-person interviews.

The survey asks for information on conservation practices installed, nutrients and pesticides applied, cropping history, irrigation and grazing for the 2014-16 production years. USDA said respondents can expect the survey to take about an hour to complete, depending upon the size and scope of the operation and conservation practices. The agency added that having records on hand will help shorten the time needed to complete the questionnaire.

NASS conducts the NRI-CEAP survey under a cooperative agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

NRI-CEAP results help determine the effectiveness of existing conservation practices and what resources farmers may need to further protect the soil, water and related resources in selected watersheds and to document on-farm conservation accomplishments. The results guide USDA conservation policy and program development and help conservationists, farmers and ranchers more efficiently and effectively conserve natural resources.

USDA noted that the privacy of all respondents is safeguarded, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified, as required by federal law. Additional information is available at the Conservation Effects Assessment Project survey webpage.

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