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Designing Tailored Data Collection for Navajo Farm Operators in the 2012 Census of Agriculture
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*Jaki S. McCarthy, USDA/Nat'l Ag. Statistics Service 
Steven Manheimer, USDA/ Nat'l Ag. Statistics Service 

Keywords: nonresponse, Navajo, data collection

The Native American subpopulation of US agricultural operations is important for the COA for the reasons outlined elsewhere in this session. Efforts to obtain the best data from these operations include outreach, but also extend to the data collection. Navajo operators are the largest group of American Indian farm operators, so specific efforts have begun with them. There was no special American Indian report form in the 2007 COA and it was clear that the standard census report form was not optimal for them. The 24 page form appeared burdensome to smaller Navajo operations, even though they did not have to complete many of the sections. In addition, these operators may also have had a more difficult time due to terminology unfamiliar to them. In order to maximize both the quality and quantity of data obtained from these operations, NASS included development of a form tailored to Navajo operations in the content testing prior to the 2012 COA. Based on a review of data from the 2007 COA, sections of the form where few or no commodities were reported were replaced with simple presence/absence screening questions. This eliminated several pages of the form. The modified sections of the form were also re-ordered to placing the most pertinent sections at the beginning of the form. In addition, terminology used in the form was revised to use terms in common usage with Navajo operators and the make-up of a donor pool for nonresponse was modified for this unique population. Changes to the forms were tested in several rounds of pre-tests. In addition, a subsample of Navajo operations was included in larger field test mailings. Going forward, NASS plans to continue efforts to tailor COA data collection for this unique subpopulation to increase both the quality and quantity of the data collected.

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