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USDA Gathers Data About Farm Labor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct its biannual Agricultural Labor Survey during the second half of April. The survey will collect information about hired labor from more than 1,300 Iowa farmers and ranchers.
“The beginning of the year is the time when agricultural producers plan out the rest of their growing season and it is a great time to assess on-farm labor needs,” said Greg Thessen, Director of the NASS Upper Midwest Regional Field Office. “The data that farm operators provide through NASS’s Agricultural Labor Survey allow federal policymakers to base farm labor policies on accurate information.”
USDA and the U.S. Department of Labor use statistics gathered in the Agricultural Labor Survey to establish minimum wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs, and assist legislators in determining labor policies.
In the survey, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about hired farm labor on their operations, including total number of hired farm workers, the total hours worked, and total base and gross wages paid for the weeks of January 10-16 and April 11-17. Survey participants can respond online at or by mail. Those producers who do not respond by the deadline will be contacted for a telephone interview.
“By asking about two separate time periods each time we collect data during the year, we are able to publish quarterly data and capture seasonal variation,” said Thessen. “This approach reduces the number of times we survey farm businesses while ensuring that accurate and timely data are available.”
NASS will compile, analyze, and publish survey results in the May 26 Farm Labor report. All previous Farm Labor publications are available online at For more information on NASS
surveys and reports, call the NASS Upper Midwest Regional Field Office at (800) 772-0825.


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