U.S. ag census begins in January; will your data count?
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Farmers and ranchers across the country will soon have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities by taking part in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them.
“The Census remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation,” said Kevin Pautler, director of NASS’s Pennsylvania Field Office. “It’s a critical tool that gives farmers a voice to influence decisions that will shape the future of their community, industry and operation.”
The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and other topics. This information is used by all those who serve farmers and rural communities from federal, state and local governments to agribusinesses and trade associations. For example, legislators use the data when shaping farm policy and agribusinesses factor it into their planning efforts.
For the first time, the 2012 Census contains questions asking for the number of acres under conservation tillage practices, acres planted to cover crops and acres under conservation easements. This information will be critical in documenting the work farmers are doing collectively to be good stewards of the environment. Through the Census, producers can show the nation the value and importance of agriculture both environmentally and economically. By responding to the Census, producers are helping themselves, their communities and all of U.S. agriculture.
“Your answers to the Census impact farm programs and rural services that support your community,” Pautler said. “So do your part and be counted when you receive your form, because there’s strength in numbers that only the Census can reveal.”
NASS will mail out Census forms in late December, to collect data for the 2012 calendar year. Completed forms are due by February 4, 2013. Producers can fill out the Census online via a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov, or return their form by mail. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.
For more information, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov. The Census of Agriculture is your voice, your future, your responsibility.