It’s that time of year again, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) prepares to contact producers nationwide to gather final year-end production numbers. Having experienced volatile growing conditions this season – including floods in the Midwest and hurricanes in the South – it’s more important than ever for producers to respond to the December Agricultural Survey.

“The December Agricultural Survey, also known as the Crops/Stocks Survey, is the largest and most critical year-end survey conducted by NASS,” explained Steven Manheimer, director of the NASS Arizona Field Office. “This survey is the basis for the official USDA estimates of production and harvested acres of all major agricultural commodities in the United States.

“With questions still remaining about the final impact of the Midwest floods and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, data from the December Agricultural Survey will benefit farmers by providing timely and accurate information to help them make critical year-end business decisions and begin planning for the next growing season,” added Manheimer.

During the first two weeks of December, NASS will contact selected Arizona producers by mail or telephone and ask them to provide information on their 2008 production and on-farm grain stocks. The information will be compiled and analyzed and then published in a series of USDA reports, including the annual Crop Production summary and quarterly Grain Stocks report, both to be released on Jan.12, 2009.

As with all NASS surveys, information provided by respondents is confidential by law. “NASS safeguards the confidentiality of all responses and publishes only state- and national-level data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified,” stated Manheimer.