The branch of economic statistics that deals with agriculture and is an important tool for state management and planned guidance of socialist agricultural enterprises is agricultural statistics.
The principal tasks involved in agricultural statistics are the collection, processing, and analysis of statistical data that characterize the current status and development of agriculture and the fulfillment of production plans. Such data are used to draw up yearly and long-range plans for agricultural production.
The sources of information employed in agricultural statistics are censuses, sample surveys, and the periodic and annual reports submitted by Kolkhozes, Sovkhozes, and other state and cooperative agricultural enterprises, reports based on the data obtained from basic bookkeeping procedures and production accounting at such farms.
In the capitalist countries, national agricultural statistics are published in statistical collections, yearbooks, and special journals, all of which provide information on various topics, such as the extent of sown area, the production and yield of agricultural crops, the number of livestock and livestock productivity, the use of mineral fertilizers, the mechanization of agriculture, the prices of agricultural products, land prices, and the volume and structure of production costs.
Agricultural statistics for all countries are given in the annual and monthly reference works published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
F.A.O. develops methods and standards for food and agriculture statistics, provides technical assistance services and disseminates data for global monitoring. Statistical activities at F.A.O. include the development and implementation of methodologies and standards for data collection, validation, processing and analysis. F.A.O. also plays a vital part in the global compilation, processing and dissemination of food and agriculture statistics, and provides essential statistical capacity development to member countries.
F.A.O. has a decentralized statistical system and statistical activities cover the areas of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, land and water resources and use, climate, environment, population, gender, nutrition, poverty, rural development, education and health as well as many others.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (N.A.S.S.) is the statistical branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System. N.A.S.S. conducts hundreds of surveys and issues nearly 500 national reports each year on issues including agricultural production, economics, demographics and the environment. N.A.S.S. also conducts the United States Census of Agriculture every five years.
The primary sources of information for N.A.S.S. reports are farmers, ranchers, livestock feeders, slaughterhouse managers, grain elevator operators and other agribusinesses. N.A.S.S. relies on these survey respondents to voluntarily supply data for most reports.
N.A.S.S. surveys are conducted in a variety of ways, including mail surveys, telephone interviews, online response, face-to-face interviews and field observations. Once the information is gathered and interpreted, N.A.S.S. issues estimates and forecasts for crops and livestock and publishes reports on a variety of topics including production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm income and finances, and agricultural chemical use. N.A.S.S.’s field offices publish local data about many of the same topics.