USDA prepares for 2017 census of agriculture

Nearly one million farmers and ranchers – or possible farmers and ranchers – received the National Agricultural Classification Survey in December.

The survey will help the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepare for the 2017 census of agriculture. Its purpose is to identify active farms and ranches in the United States and help determine who receives a census of agriculture questionnaire next December.

The survey is one of the ways the National Agricultural Statistics Service collects the names of farmers who should be included in the ag census, noted Sue King, NASS’s public affairs director.

Conducted every five years by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the census of agriculture is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation. Through the ag census, producers are able to demonstrate the value and importance of agriculture and influence decisions that will shape the future of the industry in this country, the USDA said in a news release.

The classification survey “plays an integral role in getting a complete count of U.S. agriculture,” said Barbara Rater, NASS census and survey division director.

While the directions sent with the survey ask that it be returned by Jan. 30, surveys are still being accepted, King said.

“It’s not too late,” she explained.

“This is an important opportunity,” Rater said. “The census of agriculture is the leading source of facts about American agriculture. Farm organizations, businesses, government decision-makers, commodity market analysts, news media, researchers and so many others use census of agriculture data. We are ensuring that every farm and ranch has a voice.”

To be included in the census of agriculture, farmers can take the survey on paper or online. Farmers who didn’t receive the survey through the mail can still go online, King said.

The survey is required by law as part of the census of agriculture. By this same law, all information reported by individuals is protected.

NASS will begin data collection for the 2017 census of agriculture in late 2017. Visit the ag census website for more.

The census of agriculture, USDA added in the release, is “Your Voice, Your Future, Your Opportunity."