It’s that time again…time for the Ag Census!
If you’re in agriculture, a 2017 Ag Census is hitting your mailbox this month, if it hasn’t already. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) began mailing questionnaires the last week in November, and they are meant to collect data about the nation’s farms and ranches. The USDA reports they are sending out over 3 million Ag Census questionnaires for those in the ag industry to be counted and tell their stories. Find out more on the 2017 Ag Census below.
The History of Keeping the Nation’s Agriculture data
The first Ag Census was taken in 1840 by the U.S. Department of Commerce as part of the Sixth Decennial Census of Population, and it was done this way for over 150 years. In 1997, the USDA took over the role of keeping the nation’s agriculture data. The census is taken every 5 years, and it looks at ag data concerning characteristics of the land, the crops or livestock raised, the owners and operators working the farms and ranches, and more.
The data from the Ag Census is compiled over two years and the data collected from the 2017 census will be released in February 2019. It is used by farmers and ranchers, companies, government organizations, community leaders, and others to make informed decisions about agriculture and the future. When AgAmerica conducted a research study into how farmers make decisions, nearly 35% of respondents replied they conduct research themselves when planning for their operation; data from the latest Ag Census is a likely source for such research.
Completing the USDA Census of Agriculture
The census questionnaire is mailed out to all farmers and ranchers that are known to the USDA to grow or raise over $1,000 a year in crops or produce. Respondents have until February 5th, 2018, to return their forms, either by U.S. mail or online, here. Responses are required by law.
The reasons to complete the Ag Census are many. For one, according to the USDA, the census “provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation.” The data collected shows trends and changes, and it is used to make decisions by many different groups, entities, and organizations.
It’s also a chance for the nation’s ag industry to tell their stories and show their worth. It gives farmers and ranchers the opportunity to put the value of agriculture into concrete numbers and statistics for all to see.
The USDA’s NASS is ready to answer any questions you may have; find the contact form at the bottom of the page, here.