2017 Census of Agriculture: Make Your Farm Count!

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Every five years, the USDA conducts a complete Census of Agriculture. This Census is a count of U.S. farms and ranches and their operators. It looks at land use and ownership, farm operator characteristics, production practices, and farm income and expenditures for all sizes of farms and ranches. It’s the only source of comprehensive data for every county in every state. The Census reveals the value and importance of agriculture, and Census data is used by farmers, companies, local governments, and legislators to make decisions, shape agricultural policies, and target programs and services.

2017 is a Census year. If you produce or grow at least $1,000 of any agricultural product (including field crops, vegetables, fruits, flowers and other ornamentals, and/or livestock) during the census year, you are required by law to complete the Census.

How do farms complete the census?

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will mail questionnaires for the 2017 Census of Agriculture to farm and ranch operators in December 2017 to collect data for the 2017 calendar year. Completed forms will be due by February 8, 2018. Farmers can either complete the Census on-line or mail in a completed form.

Even though the forms will not be mailed out until the end of this year, now is the time to make sure you are on the NASS list to receive a form. All you have to do is sign up on-line to receive your form:

Sign up on-line to receive a 2017 Census of Agriculture form

The information farmers provide to the Census of Agriculture is kept confidential and by law cannot be disclosed to any other government or private entity.

It is my hope that all of our farmers will participate in the Census. I’ve been an Agriculture Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension for 18 years and I have been involved with many grants and committees that relied on Census data to be able to show the importance of agriculture to funding organizations, local and state governments, and other decision makers in order to help farmers. We are at a disadvantage when the Census data vastly under reports certain agriculture sectors, usually direct marketed vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Please help yourself by making your farm count!

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