2018-01-24 / News

Local farmers urged to complete 2017 Agriculture Census

by Kate Evans

Area farmers and ranchers are being encouraged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to complete their 2017 Census of Agriculture questionnaires before a February 5 deadline. Farm operations of all sizes which produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural product in 2017 are included in the census.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service mailed the 2017 Census of Agriculture to the nation's producers in December, according to a USDA press release.

Conducted once every five years, the goal of the census is to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture. It is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial information on farms in every state and county in the nation.

Census data is relied on by farmers, ranchers, trade associations, researchers, policymakers and many officials to determine policy and farm legislation and to make decisions on farm assistance programs, disaster relief, technology development and community planning. It’s also used for farm advocacy, agribusiness setup, rural development and initiatives for new farmers, women, veteran and minority farmers and for helping farmers diversify into new markets.

The census includes information like farm size, types of crops and livestock, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. The updated 2017 census tracks changes and emerging trends in the industry and has new questions on military veteran status, food marketing practices and on-farm decision-making.

Federal law requires all those who receive a Census of Agriculture report form to respond even if they did not operate a farm or ranch in 2017.

Local impact

“Completing the Census of Agriculture is important for Morgan County. Accurate data will help organizations such as the Farm Bureau, Morgan County Association for Food and Farms, and Extension when applying for grants. When farmers don’t report, they don’t get counted and their hard work becomes invisible to organizations that could help,” said Morgan County Extension Agent Cindy Smalley.

Every response matters

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said that “the census gives every producer the opportunity to be represented so that informed decisions can support their efforts to provide the world with food, fuel, feed, and fiber. Every response matters."

Producers can respond to the census online or by mail. The online questionnaire has automatic calculations and is accessible on mobile and desktop devices.

For more information

If farmers didn’t receive a census form or misplaced it, or need more information or help completing the Census of Agriculture form, call tollfree (888) 424-7828 or go to www.agcensus.usda.gov.

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