February 4 is deadline for submitting your information to the USDA Census of Agriculture — the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation.
Conducted once every five years, the Census plays a pivotal role the development of US agricultural policy and allocation of resources to farm and ranch programs.
Here at WAgN, we use Census numbers in many ways — to write grant proposals, in talking with legislators, journalists and sponsors, to identify research topics and to design programs that make a difference.
In order to have the data we need to support women farmers, we need every woman farmer to participate. A farm is defined as any place that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the Census year (2012).
All farmers and ranchers should have received a Census form in the mail by early January. Farmers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) also has tips and guidelines to help with online filing at http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Help/FAQs/General_FAQs/
By law, the information you provide to the Census is kept confidential and will not be disclosed to any other government or private entity.
NASS is seeking information from all producers, regardless of size or enterprise. ”By participating in this survey, producers help provide a snapshot of the current state of agriculture in our country, which helps policymakers make better decisions about farm safety net programs and policies,” says Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The Census collects detailed data covering nearly every facet of U.S. agriculture. It looks at land use and ownership, production practices, expenditures and other factors that affect the way farmers do business and succeed in the 21st Century. Census information helps USDA monitor trends and understand the needs in agriculture to better align its products and services. Ways the department used Census data in the past include:
- Helping to ensure the future of the agriculture industry in America, by developing programs and priorities to help new and beginning farmers get started and stay in business. This was supported after the Census reported the average age of a farmer continued to increase from 50.3 in 1978 to 57.1 in 2007. And, while the majority of farm operators are between the age of 45 and 64, the fastest growing group of farm operators is those 65 years and older.
- Looking at where and how to provide expanded and improved Internet access and services to rural America. The Census provided comprehensive county-level data on Internet access and revealed that 57 percent of all farmers had Internet access in 2007, up from 50 percent in 2002. Of those producers accessing the Internet, 58 percent reported having a high-speed connection.
If you’re a farmer and you haven’t filed yet, please do it today. And please forward this message to friends and colleagues.