Not too late for the Agriculture Census
The extended deadline for the 2012 Agricultural Census is coming due at the end of May. Producers should have already received and returned their census forms, but if you haven’t, there is still time.
Bill Meyer, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Mountain Region field director, stressed the importance of the Ag Census.
“It’s the most complete set of data for agriculture, from the local level to the county to the state level.”
Meyer explained that the Ag Census, which is conducted every five years, gathers invaluable information on the state of U.S. agriculture. Things like farmer and rancher populations, demographic information including age, the size of farms, and many other types of data aid so many organizations, communities and businesses in their efforts.
“Information from the Census of Agriculture helps USDA monitor trends and better understand the needs in agriculture,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a NASS announcement. “Providing industry stakeholders, community leaders, lawmakers and individual farm operators with the most comprehensive and accurate U.S. agricultural reports, we all help ensure the tools are available to make informed, sound decisions to protect the future of American agriculture.”
Meyer echoed the words of the secretary, commenting at one point that he didn’t think farmers and ranchers know how widely used and how intensely valuable the Ag Census data is to the community at large. Not only does the information directly influence agricultural program considerations which benefit agriculture, other entities such as academic institutions, research institutions, media, and many more rely on it to get an accurate image of agriculture in America.
“They get used a lot,” said Meyer of the data, with a chuckle.
Even though the original deadline for returning the Census forms was Feb. 4, producers can still turn them in through the end of May. “We want everyone to be able to participate,” Meyer explained.
You should have received a form in the mail and likely even a few mailed reminders. If you have not, or your form has been lost before you were able to send it, there are some other options.
The Ag Census can be completed online at www.agcensus.usda.gov/Online_Response/ or by phone at 1-888-424-7828. If you experience difficulty in filling out your online form, you can call the NASS customer support line at 1-800-727-9540. Both the website and the call are secure. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor