The government is currently collecting important data that helps industry members and federal agencies plan for the future — and growers need to respond soon. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) mailed survey codes to more than 40,000 horticulture producers for its 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties.
Collected just once every five years, the Census of Horticultural Specialties is the only source of detailed production and sales data for U.S. floriculture, nursery, and specialty crop industries, including greenhouse food crops. Federal law requires producers who receive the Census to respond. The same federal law requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.
The Census is “something everyone in the industry should embrace, for it is from this survey that every agency from the USDA to state departments of agriculture to university administrators (think: teaching programs, research appropriations and Extension funding) can compare horticulture’s contributions to the economy and how those compare with other segments of agriculture,” said Dr. Marvin Miller, AAF, market research manager at Ball Horticultural Company in West Chicago, Illinois, a longtime volunteer member of the Society of American Florists and a member of the NASS advisory committee.
SAF uses the data from the Census to advocate on Capitol Hill, Miller added. In addition, many industry firms use the information “to plan, to forecast trends, to determine sales coverages and to gauge inventories,” he explained.