The reports issued by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) are utilized by many agencies within USDA in developing production, harvest, yield, and other agriculturally related estimates for policymaking decisions, as well as by the industry as an indicator of the current status of the crop. As a result, these reports also have a strong impact on the marketplace.
For grapes, NASS publishes an annual grape production and forecast in the agency’s August Crop Production report. The report looks at grape production in 13 states including Arkansas, California, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington. In addition to these state statistics, a forecast narrative is published for the largest grape producing state, California. Additionally, NASS publishes annually a non-citrus fruits and nuts summary that overviews grape bearing acreage, yield, production, price and value for the prior three years. NASS used to have a preliminary non-citrus summary in January but for budget reasons has not been able to conduct that survey in a number of years.
It is important for winegrape producers to provide the most accurate data possible to government surveys. surveys ensure that NASS has the tools required to make a healthier industry. Winegrape Growers of America looks forward to working with NASS to facilitate more accurate reporting in order to benefit the U.S. winegrape grower and the industry as a whole.
The success of NASS reports in helping to provide timely market information has inspired producers in other regions to press for reports – along the lines of the California acreage and crush reports – that cover broader geographic regions. Such reports would provide critical information for those growers in other regions whose harvest begins at a later date.
Additional funding would be necessary to provide NASS with the ability to continue making positive contributions to the winegrape industry through additional reports. The cost of a national non-citrus survey could reach approximately $3 million, yet budget cuts are likely to continue, leading to a reduction in programs at USDA that compile agricultural statistics. In light of the President’s recent budget proposal calling for major savings within USDA budget lines, winegrape industry stakeholders urge a renewed commitment to funding NASS and to support the collection and reporting of key market data.