WASHINGTON, April 17, 2017 – “Make sure you are counted.”
That’s the message USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is trying to get across to America’s farmers and ranchers as NASS prepares for the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years, the Census aims to get a complete count of all U.S. farms and ranches and those who operate them.
New producers who did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 report form by visiting www.agcensus.usda.gov and clicking on the “Make Sure You Are Counted” button through June. NASS defines a farm as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year (2017).
“The Census of Agriculture remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “As such, census results are relied upon heavily by those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, and farmers and ranchers themselves.”
Data from the census are used by federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations and just about any organization which serve farmers and rural communities. Producers can use census date to help make informed decisions about the future of their own operations, NASS says on its website. Companies and co-ops can use the facts and figures to help find the right location for facilities serving ag producers. Community planners use the information to target services needed for rural residents. And lawmakers use information from the census to help shape farm policies and programs.
NASS will mail questionnaires for the 2017 census to farm and ranch operators in December to collect data for the 2017 calendar year. Completed forms are due by February. Respondents can complete the Census online at www.agcensus.usda.gov or return their forms by mail. NASS plans to release Census of Agriculture data, in both electronic and print formats, beginning in February 2019. Detailed reports will be published for all counties, states and the nation.
“Today, when data are so important, there is strength in numbers,” said Hamer. “For farmers and ranchers, participation in the 2017 Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity to shape American agriculture – its policies, services, and assistance programs – for years to come.”
The Census of Agriculture highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and other topics. The 2012 Census revealed that over 3 million farmers operated more than 2 million farms, spanning over 914 million acres. This was a 4 percent decrease in the number of U.S. farms from the previous census in 2007. However, agriculture sales, income, and expenses increased between 2007 and 2012. NASS says this information and thousands of other agriculture statistics are a direct result of responses to the Census of Agriculture.
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