Land Use Information: A Critical Survey of U.S. Statistics Including Possibilities for Greater Uniformity

By Marion Clawson; Charles L. Stewart et al. | Go to book overview

APPENDIX F.

Utilization of Land in Farms: The Program of the Statistical Reporting Service, USDA1

The Statistical Reporting Service is responsible for the collection, compilation, and analysis of a large volume of basic facts depicting the current status of agriculture in the United States. These data relate to the use of, or activity on, land in farms which is approximately half of the land area of the United States, or nearly 60 percent for the forty-eight conterminous states. Numerous reports each year are regularly released to growers, dealers, processors, and others who have an interest in agricultural commodities. Generally speaking, the statistical program is oriented on a state basis. County estimates of acreage are made for several crops.

In recent years, the statistical reports and services have been expanding to meet additional needs for information. As part of a long-range program to provide more accurate data, as well as survey facilities for obtaining additional needed data, two enumerative surveys based on probability area sampling are conducted each year. These surveys offer considerable potential for the improvement of land use statistics. One is made in June to give dependable bases for estimates of numbers of farms, land in farms, acreage planted or to be planted, and livestock numbers. The second is in the late fall, for harvested acreages, production, and livestock. These surveys began developing on a pilot basis in 1954 and reached operating levels in thirty-nine states in 1965. When operational in all states there will be about 17,000 segments, area sampling units, in the sample. These segments usually contain from one to four farms, with an average of about two farms.

All land within each sample segment is accounted for by tracts, a tract being a contiguous piece of land under the same ownership or management. Within each tract all fields in which crops are grown are identified on aerial photographs and the acreages by crops are recorded. In addition, acreage devoted to "other uses" (farmsteads, woods, roads, Conservation Reserve, idle, residential, etc.) is recorded in order to have an accounting of all lands in each sample area as a control on the accuracy of the field work. At the present time the data on "other uses" of land are not tabulated.

____________________
1
A statement prepared for this book, by the Statistical Reporting Service.

-234-

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