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Published March 26, 2013, 01:25 PM

USDA still seeking Census of Ag data

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making one final push to collect information for the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making one final push to collect information for the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

“We’re still trying to get people to respond, says Sue King with USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Farmers and ranchers should have received their 2012 Census forms by early January, with completed forms due by Feb. 4. But USDA, which wants the Census to be as complete as possible, continues to accept information, King says.

The agency is doing one last mailing to people who haven’t completed their Census forms. If the mailing isn’t answered, USDA will follow up with a phone call or even a personal visit in some cases.

Farmers and ranchers who haven’t completed their form also can do so online.

The Census, conducted every five years, helps USDA officials administer federal farm programs and also helps collect information on agricultural products such as bison, for which statistics aren’t gathered annually.

Federal law requires the National Ag Statistics Service to keep all individual information confidential. County-level data isn’t released publicly if disclosure would compromise individual information.

Some farmers and ranchers may not see the value of completing the Census form, King says.

But even if producers won’t use data from the census personally, commodity groups and trade associations to which they belong will benefit from the information, she says.

USDA will begin tabulating the forms this summer. The 2012 Census is scheduled to be released in February 2014.

“I urge those who have not yet responded to seize this opportunity,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says in a news release. “There is still time to be counted if you respond today.”

For more information about the census or completing it, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-888-424-7827 or your state NASS office.

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