The Potential Implications of 'Big Ag Data' for USDA Forecasts

33 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2017

See all articles by Jesse Tack

Jesse Tack

Kansas State University

Keith H. Coble

Mississippi State University - Department of Agricultural Economics

Robert Johansson

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Ardian Harri

Mississippi State University - Department of Agricultural Economics

Barry Barnett

Mississippi State University

Date Written: January 31, 2017

Abstract

Recent advances in precision agriculture technology have increased the potential to capture near-real time data such as planting and yield information. It is well established that information on crop acreage and yield can have value in commodity markets. That is why the USDA conducts farm surveys and freely reports such information. In this study we use a large sample (just over 1.5 million observations) of farm-level corn yield data to consider if it is possible to use non-random farm yield data (such as might be available to providers of precision agriculture services) to accurately predict the national corn yield. Specifically, we examine scenarios where a forecasting agent has data that is not representative either because it is from a limited region or because it consists primarily of large farms. In general, we conclude that large volumes of data can, to some degree, overcome forecasting bias caused by non-representative samples. Moreover, if the forecaster can benchmark against an unbiased estimator, it may be possible to remove much of the bias from estimates generated by non-representative samples.

Keywords: Big Data, Market Information, Precision Agriculture, USDA Reports

JEL Classification: Q12, Q14, Q18

Suggested Citation

Tack, Jesse and Coble, Keith H. and Johansson, Robert and Harri, Ardian and Barnett, Barry, The Potential Implications of 'Big Ag Data' for USDA Forecasts (January 31, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2909215 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2909215

Jesse Tack (Contact Author)

Kansas State University ( email )

Manhatten, KS 66506-4001
United States

Keith H. Coble

Mississippi State University - Department of Agricultural Economics ( email )

Box 5187
Mississippi State, MS 39762
United States

Robert Johansson

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
202-694-5485 (Phone)

Ardian Harri

Mississippi State University - Department of Agricultural Economics ( email )

Box 5187
Mississippi State, MS 39762
United States

Barry Barnett

Mississippi State University ( email )

Mississippi State, MS 39762
United States

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