Farmers and Ranchers Please Complete the 2017 Census of Agriculture

— Written By

Farmers and ranchers will soon be receiving the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Producers can mail in their completed census form, or respond online via the improved web questionnaire.

Many producers don’t realize how answering, or not answering, NASS surveys and questionnaires directly impacts them, their communities, and industries. Even if producers do not use the results themselves or take advantage of USDA or other ag programs and services that rely on the data, everyone is affected by rural development (e.g. the paving of roads, internet access, veteran health clinic and agribusiness set-up), disaster relief (census data can used to determine how much and what kind of aid may be needed in affected areas), etc. Beyond being used by policymakers, the data also justifies research and the development of new technologies. Census data are also used to determine where there should be ag education in schools and to simply promote the importance of agriculture among non-agricultural neighbors. The list is long, one that you can add to by sharing your own use of the data, but the takeaway is that every producer’s voice is important to the future of U.S. agriculture.

 Don’t miss the three testimonial videos linked on the partner tools page – How you use NASS data, Why you use NASS data, and Why respond to NASS surveys.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has extensively revised the online questionnaire to make it more convenient for producers.

“The updated online questionnaire is very user-friendly – it can now be used on any electronic device, and can be saved and revisited as the producer’s schedule allows,” said NASS Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater. “Responding online saves time and protects data quality. That’s our mission at NASS – to provide timely, accurate, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. Better data mean informed decisions, and that’s why it is so important that every producer respond and be represented.”

New time-saving features of the online questionnaire include automatically calculating totals, skipping sections that do not pertain to the operation, and providing drop-down menus of frequent responses. Producers still have one week to try the online questionnaire demo on the census of agriculture website (www.agcensus.usda.gov).

The census website will continue to be updated with new information through the census response deadline of February 5, 2018. One recently added feature is a new video from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue reminding all producers to respond when they receive their 2017 Census of Agriculture in the mail later this year.

Revisions and additions to the 2017 Census of Agriculture aim to capture a more detailed account of the industry. Producers will see a new question about military veteran status, expanded questions about food marketing practices, and questions about on-farm decision-making to better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers, and others involved in running the business.

Response to the census of agriculture is required by law under Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113. The same law requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and only in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any producer. The time required to complete the questionnaire is estimated at 50 minutes. In October, NASS will make a census preparation checklist available on the census website to help producers gather necessary information in advance.

Conducted once every five years, the census of agriculture is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches, and those who operate them; it is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the country. Farmers and ranchers, trade associations, government, extension educators, researchers, and many others rely on census of agriculture data when making decisions that shape American agriculture – from creating and funding farm programs to boosting services for communities and the industry. The census of agriculture is a producer’s voice, future, and opportunity.

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call (800) 727-9540.

Written By

Photo of Deb FullerDeb FullerCounty Extension Administrative Assistant (336) 641-2433 debra_fuller@ncsu.eduGuilford County, North Carolina
Updated on Dec 4, 2017
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