Agriculture Weather Information Is Not Effectively Communicated to Users

CED-79-110: Published: Aug 7, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 7, 1979.

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A questionnaire was developed and sent to agricultural weather service users to review certain aspects of the Agricultural Weather Service Program. Although the response rate from farmers and ranchers was low, the information obtained indicates a need for strengthening the program. The Agricultural Weather Service Program began in 1958 as a result of a Senate resolution requesting the Secretaries of Commerce and Agriculture to cooperate in identifying the agricultural community's weather information needs and jointly develop a program to meet those needs. Each year the National Weather Service (NWS) spends an estimated $3 million on the program, and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) allocates approximately $1 million annually for it.

The agricultural weather program and specific weather information have not been effectively communicated to program users and potential users. Basically the program provides forecasts and advisories, but about one-third of the respondents could not recall hearing forecasts, and about one-half could not recall hearing of the advisories. Of the users of weather program information, farmers and ranchers preferred weather advisories, and agricultural businesses preferred forecasts. Although the need for improvements in the program has been noted by both USDA and the Department of Commerce, the roles, responsibilities and goals of the program need to be clarified, and the methods used to communicate the information to users could be improved.

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