Census of Ag time again
Farmers and ranchers generally have no enthusiasm for surveys and questionnaires, especially ones from the U.S. government. But Darin Jantzi hopes ag producers will take a few minutes to complete the 2017 Census of Agriculture form, which they al...
Farmers and ranchers generally have no enthusiasm for surveys and questionnaires, especially ones from the U.S. government. But Darin Jantzi hopes ag producers will take a few minutes to complete the 2017 Census of Agriculture form, which they already have received or soon will.
"It's the most complete, in-depth survey we do," says Jantzi, North Dakota state statistician with the National Agricultural Statistics Service, or NASS, the arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that conducts the census. "It's used for a lot of policy-making decisions at the local and national level."
The census, conducted every five years (in years ending in 2 and 7), provides data for every county in the nation. It's often the best - and sometimes only - source of information on key topics such as land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices and income and expenditures.
More than 3 million U.S. ag producers have received the 2017 questionnaire. Farm operations of all sizes that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, at least $1,000 of ag products in 2017 are included in the census.
U.S. law requires everyone who receives a Census of Agriculture report form to respond even if they didn't operate a farm or ranch in 2017, NASS says.
The new census form was revised to better document changes and emerging trends, NASS says.
Policymakers aren't the only ones who benefit from the survey, says Juli Obudzinski, deputy policy director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
The census also "can help producers to better understand the state of the market in their particular county, state or region, and can give them information that they can use to improve their businesses," she says.
USDA estimates most producers will need 45 to 50 minutes to complete the survey. Some producers will need more time and others less, depending on their particular situation, Jantzi says.
The census response deadline is Feb. 5. But NASS officials will continue to collect information after that, Jantzi says.
NASS will release survey results in February 2019.
To learn more about the 2017 census: https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Partners/index.php .