Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Mr. Scuse sees FSA getting acreage reports directly from the farmer's precision agriculture equipment, according to this post. The lede:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative Project (ACRSIP) may well be the “most important thing that USDA has ever done,” according to Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse.
 In the interview (at the link) he says the idea is first to allow producers to report acreage once from home with the data supplied to crop insurance (also NRCS and NASS as applicable I assume) and FSA.  The "ultimate" step is to get the data from the precision equipment.  Timing: a pilot this fall, partial implementation in 2012, fuller later.

My comments:
  • the interviewer said he'd called it the most important initiative USDA had ever done.  Scuse didn't quite agree with that.  I'd comment again that the prerequisite for such reporting is GIS and the common land unit. (For those not affiliated with USDA, the common land unit is an attempt to identify the lowest common denominator of land/land usage recognized by everyone in USDA.  It's necessary so you can provide different totals for different purposes.)  And I'd again recognize Kevin Wickey and Carol Ernst for that.
  • as usual, management plans are over-optimistic.As far as I know there's little or no existing infrastructure for developing and testing software which spans the agencies. That was being developed in the late 1990's, when I retired, but I think it became a NIH item when the Bushies came in.  Once again, the Harshaw rule: you don't do things right the first time. While the agencies have a little experience in developing software for farmer usage, I've not seen anything impressive nor have I seen evidence of an active feedback system where farmers are suggesting improvements.
  • a fall pilot presumably would cover the fall-seeded small grains.  That's a good starting point, representing  the easiest and simplest set of situations to handle, no double cropping, little land tenure complexities.  But I'd question whether the experience with such reports is an adequate basis for expanding in crops and scope by spring of 2012.  Maybe it can be done, but I'm a bit leery.  (Then, when the System/36's were rolled out, I was leery then too.)
  • because the acronym is new, at least to Google, I wonder how well management has laid the basis for the changes in FSA and the other agencies which will likely follow.  
It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

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