By Sarah Hoffman
If you are involved in the agriculture sector, you probably know about USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). NASS is recognized as a world leader in the field of agricultural statistics, and their reliable and timely data show the most accurate picture of agriculture in America and the people powering it.
Something you might not know is NASS has helped establish and improve agricultural statistics systems in countries around the world since the end of World War II. Part of this process is through cooperative agreements and ongoing dialogue with international partners.
In September, the Director General of Japan's Statistics Department within their Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), two of his staff, and two representatives from the Embassy of Japan visited NASS headquarters in Washington, D.C. and NASS’s Illinois field office. The main purpose of the visit was to hold peer-to-peer meetings to exchange information on each other’s survey methodology and share examples of agricultural statistics challenges and successes. The visit was coordinated by NASS’s International Programs Office.
The delegates then took part in a tour of Illinois soybean and corn fields to witness the harvest in person. They met with regional NASS staff who were harvesting corn and soybean Objective Yield survey samples. The guests were able to collect a soybean data sample from the field and watch how large-scale farm equipment operates.
Some observations from the visitors included:
- In Japan, harvest equipment is more commonly rented or shared by several producers. They were amazed that one producer in Illinois would own such large equipment themselves.
- They were specifically interested in boosting corn and soybean as a future commodity that may offset the declining interest in rice in Japan.
- Data collection in Japan in mandatory, while NASS monthly and quarterly surveys are voluntary.
The benefits of these exchanges extend beyond serving the interests of the two countries. By helping other countries improve their agricultural statistics systems, USDA’s ability to assess world food and fiber production is also improved.Source : usda.gov