Farmers urged to complete Census of Agriculture
WASHINGTON — The deadline to respond to the 2022 Census of Agriculture is quickly approaching for all farmers and ranchers.
Feb. 6, is the date on which farmers and ranchers have to return their completed United States 2022 Census of Agriculture.
Producers are able to complete their census questionnaire through the USDA website or by filling out the paper documents that were mailed to them. The USDA reported that survey codes — needed to complete the census questionnaire online — were already provided to producers.
If you did not receive a 12-digit survey code — or misplaced it — the USDA stated that producers should contact the federal agency by calling 888-424-7828.
“We need to hear every producer’s story,” said Shareefah Williams, state statistician at the Maryland Field Office of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. “Their information matters and every response allows us to accurately tell a comprehensive story about the health and welfare of U.S. agriculture.”
“Every response is a farmer’s or rancher’s right and opportunity to be heard and counted,” Williams continued. “They help us by sharing their story.”
Herman Ellison, state statistician at the Virginia Field Office of the USDA-NASS, said the “combined responses show the value and importance of U.S. agriculture; census data inform decisions about policy, farm and conservation programs, infrastructure and rural development, research, education, beginning farmer programs, and more; and the Census of Agriculture is your opportunity to have a voice in the future of U.S. agriculture.”
The USDA noted that “the Census of Agriculture remains the nation’s only comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state, county, and U.S. territory.
Farm operations of all sizes, urban and rural, which produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products in 2022, are included in the ag census.
The data inform decisions about policy, programs, rural development, research and more. The Census of Agriculture is the producer’s voice in the future of American agriculture.”
The first Census of Agriculture was conducted in 1840, according to the USDA. Participants included farmers and ranchers in 26 states and the District of Columbia. In recent decades, the ag census has been conducted every five years by the USDA.
For this most recent census, participants will capture data from farmers and ranchers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.
New items in the 2022 Census of Agriculture “include new questions about the use of precision agriculture, hemp production, hair sheep and updates to internet access questions,” according to the USDA.
While farmers and ranchers throughout the United States are included in the 2022 Census of Agriculture, separate questionnaires are sent by the USDA to farmers and ranchers in Hawaii and Puerto Rico as well as to farmers and ranchers operating within lands in Native American nations.
Among subjects included in the general questionnaire are ones focused on acreage, land use, ownership, ag practices and techniques, irrigation, participation in governmental programs (for example, crop insurance and conservation reserve programs), business structure, demographics, and specific crops.
In addition, the general questionnaire also asks for detailed information on production expenses as well as sources of income.
For example, how much money a respondent spent on fuel during 2022 to operate the farm business; also, for example, how much income was earned from agritourism activities.
Farmers are mandated, according to the USDA, to participate in the 2022 Census of Agriculture.
“Responding to the Census of Agriculture is required by law under Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113,” according to a statement from the USDA. “The same law requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation.”
The results of the 2022 Census of Agriculture are scheduled to be released to the general public by the USDA in the Spring or Summer of 2024.
Not all data will be included in the results published in 2024.
The USDA indicated that “if publishing a particular data item would identify an operation (for example, if there is only one producer of a particular commodity in a county), NASS does not publish the information.
In such cases, the data are suppressed and shown as (D), meaning ‘withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual operations.’”
The information included in the census, is “used by those who serve farmers and rural communities — Federal, state and local governments; agribusinesses; researchers; trade associations; and many others.” the USDA said.
In addition, the USDA cited some examples of how the data is utilized by others: “Ag producers can use Census of Agriculture data to make informed decisions about their own operations, from production practices to marketing; companies and cooperatives use the data to determine where to locate facilities that will serve agricultural producers; community planners use the information to target needed services to rural residents; legislators use census data when shaping farm policies and programs; [and] students, educators, and researchers use the data as part of their ongoing studies, education, and research initiatives.”
Additional information on the U.S. 2022 Census of Agriculture can be found at https://www.nass.usda.gov/agcensus.