Summary: I wanted to give listeners a heads up about two things going on now. First, growers will soon be receiving a planting intentions survey from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. It is important growers fill out that survey. Also, this week is National Weights and Measures Week and our Standards Division is working hard on behalf of consumers to ensure fairness and accuracy of measurement devices used in trade.
Summary of Talking Points:
It’s a busy time of year as many farmers finalize their plans for planting and work on their equipment in anticipation of the upcoming growing season.
In February, farmers were sent the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s March Agricultural Survey. This survey asks about what crops they intend to plant, how many acres of each crop, and the amount of grains and oilseed stored on the farm.
The information collected through this survey will form the basis for the annual planting intentions report, which is one of the most important reports released each year.
It will be interesting to see what planting intentions will be this year. We have seen grain, cotton and peanut prices on the rise, which hopefully will help spread production out across commodities.
For example, most Virginia-type peanut contracts are in the $520 per ton range, a rise of close to $100 per ton over the previous several years.
I don’t have to tell you that farmers welcome better prices for their commodities.
The survey can be submitted online or by mail. And responder information is confidential. Only aggregate data is reported, so individual farm information is not shared.
The results are expected to be released in the March 31 Prospective Plantings report. I expect we will talk about those some more when they come out at the end of the month.
I also wanted to mention that we are in the midst of National Weights and Measures Week.
This week brings attention to the work of our Standards Division, which check the accuracy of gas pumps, commercial scales, price scanners, as well as packaged goods such as bagged fertilizers and mulch.
Their job is making sure of fairness in trade.
So, if you pump a gallon of gas, you can be sure you are getting a gallon of gas. Or if you want to buy a pound of sliced ham in the deli section of your grocery store, or a pound and a half of apples, that those scales used for commerce are accurate.
It’s important work, because if those devices are off just a little either way, it can cost consumers or a business a lot of money.
We also inspect grain moisture meters to be sure they are accurate in assessing moisture readings in grain. This can have a big impact financially for farmers selling grain.
In 2019, which represents a more normal year than 2020, the Standards Division:
inspected nearly 122,000 retail motor fuel devices;
inspected over 27,000 small and medium scales;
audited over 2.46 million packages for net content;
inspected 2,134 price scanning systems
and inspected 1,870 fuel meters.
Every time you go to pump gas, look for the sticker on the pump that let’s you know our inspector has been there to check its accuracy. You can also find an NCDA&CS sticker on commercial scales in grocery stores.
I am proud of the work our Standards Division does to ensure accuracy and fairness in trade. I’m glad we get to mention a little of the work that division does.