2017 is a census year for the Census of Agriculture, and for the first time farmers and ranchers can fill-out the questionnaire online! For more information, go to www.agcensus.usda.gov.
What is the Census of Agriculture?
The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It is conducted every five years by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and provides uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation.
Who should fill out the census?
Any farmer or rancher who produced and sold $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the census year. NASS maintains a master list of farmers and ranchers and mails out questionnaires at the end of each census year. If you are not yet on the list, it may be too late to be counted in this year’s census, but contact Teresa White, (202) 690-8123, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or sign up here to be counted in future NASS surveys and censuses.
How do farmers/ranchers fill out the census?
In December, farmers/ranchers will receive a paper questionnaire in the mail. They have through February to complete it either by hand on the paper copy or online. Each questionnaire will have a unique 17-digit survey code that will allow farmers/ranchers to access the online survey at https://www.agcounts.usda.gov/cawi. The online option will streamline the process for farmers by calculating totals as they go, allowing them to automatically skip over questions that don’t apply to their operation, and by offering drop-down menus for common answers.
Is the information farmers/ranchers provide to the census data confidential?
Census data is collected for statistical purposes only. After collection, all identifying information is removed and destroyed. Any summary data that would identify a person or their operation will be not be published. For example, if only one farm in a county grew a particular crop, that data would be withheld or combined with data from other counties.
More information about confidentiality requirements of the census can be found here
How does ASAP use Census data?
The Census of Agriculture is a valuable data source for ASAP’s Local Food Research Center. Although we conduct our own research with farmers, the census provides a more complete picture of agriculture in the region and the changes taking place in our local food and farming economy. Data from past censuses demonstrate the impact of ASAP’s work and the work of others to build an economy around local food and farms in our region. For example, data from the census shows the value of direct sales for locally produced goods increased nearly 70% from under $5 million in 2007 to over $8 million in 2012. When our work is backed by hard numbers like this we are better able to secure funding to continue to support the viability of farms in our region.
Why is the census important?
The census provides the most accurate picture of our local and national food systems. Beyond the work that we at ASAP do, agricultural census data is used to make decisions that will shape the future of agriculture. It communicates the value of agriculture, and helps federal and local government agencies determine which programs should receive funding and support services like beginning farmer programs, conservation programs, and rural infrastructure improvements.
For more information about this year’s census, go to agcensus.usda.gov.