The primary purposes of the NAWS are to monitor the terms and conditions of agricultural employment and describe the demographic characteristics of hired crop workers.

The survey also generates information for various Federal agencies that oversee farm worker programs. NAWS findings have been used for occupational injury and health surveillance, estimating the number and characteristics of crop workers and their dependents, and program planning. Additional information on how NAWS findings are used is available in Justification for the National Agricultural Workers Survey, an extract of the Paperwork Reduction Act Supporting Statement Part A for this survey.

The NAWS is unique for its broad coverage of the characteristics of hired crop workers and their dependents and its nearly year-round interviewing schedule. Data are collected throughout the year, over three cycles, to reflect the seasonality of agricultural production and employment. The NAWS differs from other Federal worker surveys in that:

  1. Crop Workers are interviewed at their workplaces rather than at home;
  2. Only currently employed persons are sampled; and
  3. Data is collected directly from crop workers.