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HomeAg NewsRFA to NASS: County-Level Data Critical to Climate-Smart Ag, Biofuel Programs

RFA to NASS: County-Level Data Critical to Climate-Smart Ag, Biofuel Programs

The Renewable Fuels Association today urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service to reconsider its plan to stop reporting farm acreage, yield and production estimates at the county level.

“With the rapid emergence of state and federal climate policies that will compel ethanol producers to carefully track certain feedstock characteristics, the availability of robust county-level data has never been more important,” RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper writes.

In particular, with several federal agencies working to develop a version of the GREET life cycle analysis model that will be used to estimate sustainable aviation fuel emissions, the availability of granular, county-level data is crucial. Cooper writes, “It is anticipated that climate-smart farming practices will be recognized in this version of GREET. Moreover, some expect that county-level, or even farm-specific, carbon intensity scoring could be allowed under the IRA tax credit programs at some point in the future. For the USDA to discontinue reporting of high-resolution, annual crop yield data at a time when those data are needed for incorporation into the GREET model array and/or for use in the verification of farm-specific estimates would be regrettable.”

While NASS said its decision was based on budget levels, the agency’s budget had recently been increased—from $211 million in 2023 to $241 million in 2024, Cooper noted.

The RFA letter concludes: “The quality and robustness of NASS data is incomparable, and the existing agricultural statistics reporting system is a unique strength that helps U.S. farmers and biofuel producers position themselves competitively in domestic and world markets. NASS data will be relied upon in new and important ways as climate-smart farming practices are adopted. Accordingly, we urge you to continue reporting county-level crop estimates.”

Click here for the RFA letter to NASS.

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