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The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) surveys agricultural operations to provide timely, accurate, and useful statistics on the United States and Puerto Rico agriculture. The Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) program is composed of three phases. Phase I is the screening phase. Phase II focuses on chemical use and production practices on the targeted commodities. Phase III is the most complex and detailed sample survey data collections and pertains to the financial condition of the farm, including income, expenses, assets, and debt. Operator characteristics are also collected. This information is then compiled to obtain an overview of the financial well-being of the agricultural sector. ARMS Phase III (ARMS III) is the only phase with response rates lower than 80 percent and so is the focus of this study. The 2009 ARMS III sample was comprised of agricultural operations, across 48 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). Data collection was a mixture of mail, web, and personal field enumeration. For those operations failing to complete a questionnaire, personal enumeration was attempted. Upon a nonresponse occurrence, field enumerators were instructed to review a supplemental handout listing various nonresponse reasons and record the reason on the questionnaire that best fit the situation using a particular coding process. The results showed that the top three reasons for operations being coded as refusals are “Would not take time/too busy”, “Information too personal/intrusive, confidentiality concerns”, and “Respondent refuses on all surveys, and refused on this one”. The top three reasons for operations being coded as inaccessible are “Tried several times; could not reach anyone for an appointment.”, “The operator is away on vacation or business.”, and “No operation or respondent, as listed on the label, could be found. No structure exists.”


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