What is the Census of Agriculture?
Every five years (in years ending in 2 and 7), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducts a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches, and the people who operate them. The Census of Agriculture began in 1820 when the federal government was interested in learning how many people within each household were engaged in agricultural pursuits. Since that time, it has grown into an important tool for the USDA. The data collected helps them examine land use and ownership, producer characteristics, production practices, farm income, and expenditures.
The 2022 Census of Agriculture will include questions about new trends and technologies in agriculture. Precision agriculture, internet usage, hemp production, and hair sheep are all new areas of interest for the USDA this year.
Who participates in the Census of Agriculture?
All farmers and ranchers operating in the United States should answer the questions as required by federal law. And while many of us might imagine all farms or ranches to be giant enterprises with thousands of acres of crops or hundreds of head of livestock, a farm is defined in many ways.
The USDA defines a farm as any place from which $1,000 or more of agriculture products will be sold (or is normally sold) within any given year. A farm is therefore not determined by its size. A farm might consist of a few rows of fruits and vegetables, a city garden used to house bees for honey production, or a small plot of land where you keep your chickens. It doesn’t matter how big it is – if you sell $1,000 or more of products from it, it counts as a farm.
How do farmers and ranchers sign up to take part in the Census of Agriculture?
If you currently receive National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports, you will receive a questionnaire packet of information from the USDA to complete in November of 2022. If you do not currently receive NASS surveys, you have until June 30, 2022 to sign up. Click here to register with NASS.
Once received, producers may respond to census questions online or return their packets by mail. Responses are due by February 6, 2023. NASS will send reminder notices to those that do not respond.
Why is the Census of Agriculture important?
Gathering data from farmers and ranchers all over the country is useful for many reasons. Producers can use the data to help make more informed decisions about their operations. Agricultural companies might use the data to determine where to build their next grain elevator or barge operation. Legislators use the information to help develop farming policies and programs that can help current and future generations of growers. The uses are many and the need for your contribution is great.
By participating in the 2022 Census of Agriculture, your voice, combined with millions of other producers’, becomes a force of good for the entire agricultural community. Since 1820, the Census of Agriculture has provided a historical legacy for this important community. Knowing where we are as an industry is vital in deciding how we move forward. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to be a part of history. Register today.