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Contact an ARMS Expert

Contact the ERS ARMS Team and a subject matter expert will respond to your inquiry.

Request ARMS Special Tabulations

ARMS estimates are created by USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) analysts and may be part of their research or in response to an outside request.

Both ERS and USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) provide a procedure for requesting special tabulations of ARMS data. Requests for tabulations are reviewed and completed when the requested estimates are not published elsewhere and the following criteria are met.

Requests from non-Government sources must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Output is topical and of interest to a wide range of ARMS customers.
  • Request is reasonable and best fulfilled with ARMS data. ERS managers will review each request to make that determination.
  • Resources are available to complete the tabulations without disturbing regular work duties.
  • Costs for tabulations vary with the complexity of the request. Simple tabulations may be done free of charge. Fees for larger and more complex, special tabulations are $500 per staff day for the required number of days to complete the tabulation and disclosure review.
  • ARMS is collected under a pledge of confidentiality and estimates that might reveal a farm operator's response will be suppressed. ARMS tabulations and statistical estimates based on collected sample sizes have confidence limits surrounding the estimate. Information provided will be screened for disclosure violations and estimates with statistical reliability concerns will be identified.
  • Tables will be provided directly to the requester and, at the same time, will be publicly identified and made available for request by all others.

ERS provides special tabulations on the full range of ARMS data subjects. Examples include income, expenditures, and farm operator/household demographics. To request an unpublished ARMS tabulation from ERS, please contact the ARMS Team

NASS provides special tabulations of ARMS centered on farm expenditures data. The Special tabulations webpage explains the NASS process and provides a list of current requests, many of which are not related to ARMS data.

Tables prepared by ERS in response to requests for special tabulations and are available upon request at no cost. To receive a copy of the listed analyses, contact the ERS ARMS Team.

Procedures for Requesting Access to ARMS Microdata

Qualified researchers at U.S. universities or Government agencies can have access granted to ARMS data for specific research projects. The mechanism for formally requesting data access is via the Standard Application Portal (SAP). ERS and NASS will review access requests and the proposed projects to determine if ARMS data are suitable for the hypotheses and if the available sample size is adequate to support the proposed analysis.

The application process using SAP is new and emerged from the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act). The Evidence Act calls for the Federal Government to establish a standard application process through which agencies, the Congressional Budget Office, State, local, and Tribal governments, researchers, and other individuals, as appropriate, may apply for access to confidential microdata. In response, the Federal statistical system developed SAP, available at SAP is a web-based data catalog and common application that will serve as a "front door" to apply for confidential data from any of the 16 principal Federal statistical agencies and units for evidence-building purposes.

To learn more about SAP, please visit the Standard Application Process Overview web page.

Working with ARMS Microdata

ARMS data may be used for statistical purposes only; they may not be used for non-statistical purposes, such as regulatory or enforcement purposes or release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In addition, all estimates must pass strict nondisclosure reviews. Entities and individuals outside USDA with access to this confidential survey data are subject to the same Federal statutes that apply to USDA and its employees. Under these statutes, individuals who unlawfully disclose confidential data are subject to fines and other penalties.

The following steps are required to get approval for accessing ARMS data:

  • In SAP, the researcher will provide information about their proposed project and they should include what specific datasets they wish to access (ARMS phase II and/or phase III, which years and which commodities), what products they are hoping to calculate and at what geography (national, regional, State-level), what research objectives they have, what research questions they are hoping to answer, and the planned outputs. Please also include details about the proposed research and analysis methodology and any additional datasets the researchers plan to use or link to the ARMS data.
  • In SAP, the researcher’s organization will complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ERS, NASS, and the researcher’s organization. The MOU must be signed by someone with signature authority at the university. The MOU includes legal data protection language from the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) that the researcher(s) must adhere to.
  • A security briefing regarding safe handling of confidential microdata will be scheduled for the researcher. Once all of the paperwork is signed, NASS and ERS staff can help arrange access to the data in the Data Enclave.
  • Once access agreements are approved and the security documents have been signed, access to ARMS data is provided through an online data enclave for a fee. There is a one-time fee for setting up the project in the data enclave as well as an annual fee for each researcher accessing the date in the data enclave. Currently the fees are $600 for the project set-up and $1,550–$1,900 per researcher/per year.
  • After the researcher has finished their research, ERS will review and approve the data outputs and manuscript to make sure the data are compliant with ERS disclosure rules.
  • For more information about working with ARMS microdata or the SAP process, contact the ERS ARMS Team.