Just about everyone knows about the United States census, which is conducted every 10 years by the United States government to try to get an accurate count of citizens in the United States. But there is another census that is very important to those in the agricultural community. The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of America’s farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Conducted every five years by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service, the census provides valuable information used at the local, state, and national level to plan for the future.
In late December, NASS will mail the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The Census of Agriculture defines a farm as any place that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the year. The information collected helps the USDA work with other organizations and rural communities to develop short-term and long-term improvements, strategies, and safeguards to better serve you. The census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county. By participating in the census, you help show the value and importance of U.S. agriculture.
Census data is used by all those who serve farmers and rural communities from federal, state, and local governments to agribusinesses and trade associations. Companies and cooperatives can use the information to determine the locations of facilities that will serve agricultural producers. Often, legislators use the information when shaping farm policies and programs. And, of course, North Carolina Cooperative Extension uses census data to help make informed decisions about developing future programs.
The information you supply through your census response, regardless of how large or small your operation, is important. Some of the information you provide is not collected by any other means and helps to provide new tools and reports. You can respond to the census either online via the secure website www.agcensus.usda.gov or return your form by mail. Completed forms are due by Feb. 5.
Make a difference for the future of U.S. agriculture. Participate with the rest of America’s farmers and ranchers. The census is your voice, your future, and your responsibility.
For information, contact Nelson Brownlee at 910-671-3276, by email at Nelson_Brownlee@ncsu.edu, or visit the Cooperative Extension Service website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.
Nelson Brownlee is an Area Farm Management agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center.