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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Ag data jeopardized by low survey return, loss of statistician positions

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  • Area agriculture producers may be throwing away a chance to get some valuable information for their operation.
    Kansas State Extension sent out surveys to producers starting back in October. But some producers just pitched the surveys in the trash.
    The extension offices wanted the surveys returned by the first of December but they just haven't been getting any back. The poor response may be due to a lack of trust in the government and the surveys are seen as more government interference.
    However, the information from the surveys is vital to good farm operations.
    The data those surveys produced is beneficial to producers in the long run. It provides data that improves farming practices.
    "The more data you have, the more accurate you will be," said Mark Ploger, Pratt County Extension agent.
    When the state legislature was looking for places to cut the budget, they took a big swing at the Kansas Agriculture Statistics offices. The ag statistics office personnel were cut from 39 to two. When the state was making budget cuts, some people just got the short end of the straw.
    That meant that a great deal of agriculture data was no longer being processed and not available for producers.
    Information like the cost to work a field, the cost to harvest wheat, what it cost to plant, swath and bale a crop was just simply no available, Ploger said.
    All this data went into the weekly county extension crop reports that provides year round estimates to the farmer.
    And it's not just farmers that benefit from this lost data. Railroads use the data to determine how many cars are needed and where to haul wheat.
    Flour mills use the information to determine where they can place orders for wheat for their plants.
    "A lot of people benefit from this," Ploger said.
    The lack of ag statistics is not limited to Kansas. Other states that have cut their ag statistics services include Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.
    State ag statistics are part of the national ag statistics system. Regional information from the various states is fed into the national ag statistics system where the facts and figures are compiled and made available for the industry.
    They also determined where the top producers were across the country.
    When the various state ag statistics offices were cut, it greatly reduced the amount of available information.
    That is why the surveys are so important to not only Kansas producers but to producers across the state.
    One of the important pieces of information lacking is fuel consumption. That was one of the most requested sets of data through the extension offices.
    Page 2 of 2 - The fuel data is based off previous years and it can vary greatly from year to year. That is one particular area the extension offices hopes will be available again.
    So farmers need to take the time to fill out the forms and not toss them away. It can help put more money in the producers pocket fill the ag statistics gap.
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