WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2013—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week continued to remind producers to complete forms for the Census of Agriculture—the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation.
According to USDA, all farmers and ranchers should have received a Census form in the mail by early January. Completed forms are due by Feb. 4, 2013 and farmers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.
Currently underway by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census collects detailed data on U.S. agriculture, including land use and ownership, production practices and expenditures.
“It’s important for farmers and ranchers in America today to stand up and be counted by participating in the Census of Agriculture,” said Vilsack. “By participating in this survey, producers help provide a snapshot of the current state of agriculture in our country, which helps policymakers make better decisions about farm safety net programs and policies.”
According to the latest Census of Agriculture in 2007, the number of farms that produced 75 percent of production declined from 144,000 in 2002 to 125,000. At the same time, the number of small farms counted in the 2007 Census represented 91 percent of all farms. Overall small farms increased one percent from 2002 to 2007.
The Census also reported the average age of a farmer continued to increase from 50.3 in 1978 to 57.1 in 2007. And, while the majority of farm operators are between the age of 45 and 64, the fastest growing group of farm operators is those 65 years and older.
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