In just a few weeks, America’s farmers and ranchers will have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities by taking part in the Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census captures a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them.
America’s producers have a story to tell, and the Census gives them a voice to tell it with. NASS recently launched “Share My Story” on the Census website to ask farmers how the Census impacts their lives, operations and communities. A row crop and hog farmer from Indiana posted a story telling us the data is a tool to track, “how our herd numbers, acreage, technology use and practices…compare to other local farmers, farmers across the state of Indiana and farmers across the country.”
The Census also helps tell the whole story of U.S. agriculture. Without the information collected we wouldn’t know that 3 million farmers in the United States, only one percent of our total population, provide feed, fuel, and fiber to the other 99 percent. While that seems like a huge task, we know that farmers are stepping up to the challenge because the data tell us that U.S. agriculture is growing.
The last Census counted more than 2 million farms and ranches in the United States spanning more than 922 million acres. That’s nearly a 4 percent increase in the number of farms from the previous Census in 2002. Those farms produced more than 2 billion bushels of soybeans, 18 million bales of cotton, and $37 billion in egg and poultry sales. And, working on those farms were more than one million women farmers, a 19 percent increase from 2002.
As preparations continue for this year’s Census of Agriculture, we call on farmers and ranchers to share their stories, ask questions and talk to their fellow producers about this critical effort. Your answers to the Census help grow your farm future; shape farm programs; and boost services for your, your community and your industry.
Census forms will be mailed out in late December, and responses are due by February 4th, 2013. Producers also have the option to complete their forms online. After all, the Census is your voice, your future and your responsibility. For more information about the Census, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828).
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