The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will survey approximately 1,700 cattle operations across several states — including in Montana — during the first two weeks of July.
The information gathered for the July Cattle Survey by USDA helps ranchers make timely, informed business decisions and plan for herd expansion or reduction. It also helps packers and government leaders evaluate the future of supply.
Eric Sommer, The state statistician for Montana, said the survey provides an up-to-date measurement of the United States cattle inventory.
“It gives us a baseline see how our cattle industry winter and see how everybody’s doing this year,” said Sommer. “Certainly, there’s going to be a lot of eyes on that with all the flooding we have in Nebraska and South Dakota. It will be a well looked at report.”
The unbiased numbers are also used by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency for livestock loss programs like the Livestock Indemnity Program.
“When the NASS report comes out FSA takes those numbers and puts it into their formulas to determine what, who and which areas need help,” said Sommer. “So, it’s very important that we receive good reports from producers because that’s the numbers that their payments are based off.”
The information gathered by the USDA is also kept confidential.
“Most of our surveys are voluntary,” Sommer added. “Montana producers understand the importance and that it shares their story and the quality of Montana agriculture. It also shows how well we’re doing or how horribly we’re doing. It tells a story.”
Participating ranchers can respond to the surveys online, by mail, on the phone or in person. The confidential survey results will be published in the July Cattle Inventory report on July 19.
-Lane Nordlund reporting for MTN News