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Washington—Beginning next month, representatives of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will visit dairy farms across the US as the agency begins collecting data for the final phase of the 2016 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS).

ARMS is a joint effort between NASS and USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). The survey is an annual program that gathers in-depth information on production practices, costs, and financial well-being of US farm families.

ARMS targets select commodities on a rotating basis. This year, the survey is placing additional focus on corn, and the conventional and organic dairy sectors.

The last time ARMS focused on the dairy sector was in 2010; the focus then was only on the conventional dairy sector. This will be the first time ARMS will include additional focus on the organic dairy production sector.

According to a NASS report released earlier this year, there were 2,282 certified organic farms with milk cows in the US last year (for more details, please see “Farm- Level Organic Milk Sales In 2015: $1.2 Billion, up 8.4% From ‘14,” on page 1 of our Sept. 23, 2016 issue).

Results of the 2016 ARMS will help USDA and other policymakers analyze the impacts of the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), which was created by the 2014 farm bill.

“The structure of dairy farming in the United States has changed dramatically over the last two decades, making these economic data more crucial than ever before,” said Barbara Rater, NASS Census and Survey Division director. “The 2016 ARMS will help determine how recent policy changes have affected American dairy farms.”

All dairy farmers selected to participate in the 2016 Agricultural Resource Management Survey will be notified by a mailed postcard. After that, trained enumerators will make appointments and visit the participating farms to gather the information through personal interviews.

These visits will begin in late January and continue through early April.

Once all the data are in, NASS and ERS will review and analyze the data. NASS plans to publish its summarized data in the Farm Production Expenditures report in August, while ERS plans to put out a report on the ARMS dairy data in late 2017.

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