"This report provides an overview of NASS [National Agricultural Statistics Service]. First, it reviews the origins, legislative authority, and funding for NASS. Then, the report describes the survey methodology used by NASS to generate crop production forecasts and estimates for U.S. crops at both the state and national level. Third, this report describes the systematic evolution that occurs over the course of a growing season for both the survey methodology and the annual sequence of NASS reports that are used to convey the crop production forecasts to the U.S. agricultural sector. Fourth, this report describes how NASS survey methodology is extended to collect county-level crop area and yield estimates. This fourth section also includes a discussion of emergent issues related to low producer response rates to NASS surveys and the subsequent discrepancies in neighboring county yield estimates and farm program payments. Finally, the report discusses how evidence on market price reaction to USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] crop production forecasts indicates that there is no visible pattern of bias or error."
CRS Report for Congress, R44814
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html