Lawmakers Raise Issue of Streamlining USDA Data, Statistics Collection Efforts

March 22, 2012 03:50 AM
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Clear some farm-state lawmakers don't understand roles of USDA data collecting agencies

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Farm-state lawmakers during a hearing on Wednesday noted constituents complain about taking time away from running farms and ranches to fill out different forms from several USDA agencies that seem to be collecting the same information.

Questions raised. Panel members at a House Appropriations Ag subcommittee hearing raised questions about USDA statistics, including whether there were duplicative efforts done by multiple agencies.

House Appropriator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) said she not only saw duplication of effort in those complaints, but also wasted money. She warned USDA officials to expect language or a floor amendment to streamline data collection. “I’m apt to propose some amendments to the budget that will reduce funding for the collection of ag statistics and consolidate the collection of ag statistics,” Lummis said.

During the hearing, it was clear some lawmakers didn't even understand the roles of USDA data collecting agencies. Revealing a lack of knowledge about USDA data-collection, Lummis asked whether the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) — which conducts the agricultural census and issues estimates on supply of agricultural commodities — should collect crop and farm information, or should the task fall to the Farm Service Agency, which handles farm support programs and loans.

Setting the record straight. But Cynthia Clark, the NASS administrator, said that while several USDA agencies may collect similar information, they use it at different times and for different purposes. Clark said her agency cannot share data it collects for specific programs and regulations with other agencies because the information is confidential. But she said her agency is working to reduce the number of times it requests information. Lummis said, “I appreciate your superior knowledge on this,” Lummis said. “I need it. I need to understand it so I don’t mess this up.”

Undersecretary Catherine Woteki said her agencies would work with lawmakers on the matter.

Comments: At least Rep. Lummis admitted she needed information so she would not “mess this up.” How refreshing. There are way too many other lawmakers, including senators, who simply do not understand things they should.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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Spell Check

3/22/2012 06:15 AM

  It has and still is nothing more than a job security program employing MORE government workers to make which ever party is in control look good for number of employed... and from my point of view as a producer, the numbers have been used against farmers, buy attempting to have to use more middle men to market our own products. IF they don't know what is out there, then actual supply and demand would work...even with the eye in the sky watching the progress of crops...


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