Farmers are urged to complete the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census of Agriculture, which should be arriving in their mailboxes in December. The census can be returned by mail or securely submitted online.
University of Missouri Extension economist Ryan Milhollin says federal, state and local governments as well as agribusinesses, researchers, trade associations and others use the data to serve farmers and rural communities.
USDA conducts the survey every five years. It is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial data for every county in the United States, Milhollin said in a news release. Law requires a response.
“Even if you are no longer farming, please return the census form,” says Robert Garino, Missouri state statistician for USDA in Columbia. Otherwise, USDA continues to follow up with mailed questionnaires, phone calls or visits from a USDA enumerator.
Milhollin says information from the Census of Agriculture shapes programs, including MU Extension programs, that benefit farm groups. It gives a picture of the economic impact of agriculture in the country.
Data also help policymakers see emerging trends, such as young and beginning farmers and ranchers; women, veteran and minority farmers and ranchers; specialty crops; and organic production. This helps legislators make decisions that protect the future of agriculture, he says.
Find the survey online at agcensus.usda.gov. For more information, call 888-424-7828 (toll free).