Farm Accounts Data Network

The Farm Accounts Data Network (FADN) is a specific EU instrument, developed and managed by the Directorate-General for Agriculture. The FADN is an important source for micro-economic data relating to commercial holdings. For purposes of aggregation, the FADN sample results are linked to population results derived from the FSS using groupings based on the community typology. The creation of unique identifiers in the context of the agricultural register would enhance this linkage and, if privacy and confidentiality concerns could be dealt with satisfactorily, would permit more complex analysis, at least if the FADN were a subsample of the FSSs. The current status of confidentiality in both the FSS and the FADN does not, however, allow the combination of these two very rich surveys.

For the USA, a similar situation obtains for the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). Policy issues facing agriculture have also become increasingly complex in the USA. In the past 20 years, government support for farmers has changed from being based primarily on supporting market prices to policies that include direct payments to farmers, government support for crop and revenue insurance, payments for environmental practices on working farm lands, and payments for not farming environmentally sensitive land. Increasingly complex agricultural policies require new types of data and at lower geographical scales. For example, land conservation programmes require information about land qualities or services provided as well as the value of alternative uses of land. In the USA, statistics on rental rates have been mandated in the recent Farm Bill for very small geographical areas. In addition, government support for risk management requires information to determine farmers' eligibility for insurance payments. The types of statistics required to support economic analysis of the new suite of farm programmes extend beyond those required for programme management. Farmers participate voluntarily in US government programmes, and data required to analyse the effects of programmes start with information that affects programme participation, including participation in off-farm employment and demographic characteristics. Other information needs include statistics on production decisions, technology choices, and farm financial outcomes. The ARMS provides the main source of farm business and farm finance data for US agriculture and is jointly conducted by the NASS and ERS. ARMS data support indicators of farm sector health such as income and expenditures. Equally important, the micro-data from the ARMS serves as the basis for research on programme outcomes, including informing ongoing international policy debates about the degree to which different types of payments are linked to distortions in agricultural markets.

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