Kansas Farm Bureau Gives Members Inside Look at USDA Reports, Experience Breaks MythsMon, 17 Aug 2015 20:00:18 CDT
When U.S. crop production numbers come in higher or lower than expectations that often brings criticism by farmers and traders on how the U.S. Department of Agriculture came up with those estimates. That's why Kansas Farm Bureau hosts the annual USDA report trip. Last week, Tom Leffler of Leffler Commodities was one of the nine Farm Bureau members to see how USDA calculates crop yields and the process in releasing monthly crop production estimates. Radio Oklahoma Network's Leslie Smith interviewed Leffler about the whole opportunity. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.
The whole learning experience began in a corn and soybean field outside of Kansas City. There the group meet with National Agricultural Statistics Service officials and field enumerators, where Leffler said they saw the crop sampling process. This allowed the group of farmers to see how the goal of the sampling was not to estimate the yield potential of that individual field, county or state, but rather to collect a sample or data point for the whole U.S. crop. Out of all of the corn in the US, Leffler said less than five acres was used to determine yield potential of the nation's crop and for soybeans it amounts to less than one acre.
"It seems very hard to understand how they come up with yield like that, but that gives them the big picture of the whole United States," Leffler said.
Next, the delegation traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in the lockup for the monthly grain production report that came out on Wednesday, August 12th. Upon arriving to USDA, their credentials and photo identification was checked and verified. Participants also had to hand over their cell phones and other electronic devices. Leffler said they experienced firsthand the tightness of security, multiple times.
"To going through another security, where they once again checked everything on our clothes, to make sure we weren't carrying nothing in and another electronic device that made sure we weren't trying to smuggle any kind of electronic device," Leffler said. "Very, very secure. Very, very organized in how they do it."
The delegation was in the lockup room when the crop production report was signed off and presented to the head USDA official. Overall, Leffler said it was very informative and he encourages anyone to go through this experience.
"Try to be informed, instead of just opinionated," Leffler said. "That's really the way it is about this USDA report. If you are more informed about how it really works, I think it would change some of maybe the negative thoughts that there are about those USDA numbers."
While this experience is not offered in all states, it is offered in many states annually by Farm Bureau.
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