USDA to gather data about farm labor

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is conductings its biannual Agricultural Labor Survey in October. The survey will collect information about hired labor from more than 600 Hawaii farmers and ranchers. NASS will compile, analyze, and publish survey results Nov. 24 in the Farm Labor report on the NASS website.

“Agricultural labor data are critical in helping producers when hiring workers and estimate expenses,” said NASS Hawaii State Statistician Shawn Clark. “The data that farm operators provide through NASS’s Agricultural Labor Survey also allow federal policymakers to base farm labor policies on accurate information.”

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USDA and the U.S. Department of Labor use the results of this survey to estimate the demand for, and availability of seasonal agricultural workers, establish minimum wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs, and assist legislators in determining labor policies.

In the survey, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about hired farm labor on their operations, including total number of hired farm workers, the total hours worked, and total gross wages paid for the weeks of July 11-17 and Oct. 10-16. Survey participants can respond online at agcounts.usda.gov or by mail.

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“By asking about two separate time periods each time we collect data during the year, we are able to publish quarterly data and capture seasonal variation,” Clark said. “This approach reduces the number of times we survey farm businesses while ensuring that accurate and timely data are available.”

For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Hawaii Field Office at (808) 522-8080.

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