Millions of Hoosier and American farmers are getting something in the mail other than Christmas cards this month. The 2012 Census of Agriculture surveys are being mailed soon and the National Agricultural Statistics Service would like you to treat that like the very important mail piece it is.
“The questionnaires will go in the mail the last week of December,” Bob Bass at the NASS office in St. Louis told HAT, “and so they should arrive in farmers and ranchers mailboxes either late December or early January. And it’s very important that every farmer respond because that’s the opportunity to get a measure of agriculture on the lowest level, down to the county and down to the township within the county. We county the farms and measure agriculture completely every five years, and that’s why it’s so important that we get a true and accurate picture.”
Five years ago 2.2 million farmers were counted so agriculture won’t see the new picture until February of 2014 since it will take all of next year to mine the new data. Farmer response is required by law and Bass says the ideal scenario is that all responses are received by this coming February 4th, about a 30-day window for filling out the form.
“Not everybody gets theirs in in February so they have the opportunity to go online and report the information. They can fax it back and they can also complete it by mail and send it in. We do telephone follow-up for those that we don’t hear from and we try to make sure that every farm and ranch is counted.”
The detailed Census data covers nearly every facet of U.S. agriculture including land use and ownership, production practices, expenditures and other factors that affect the way farmers do business.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/12/2012-Census-of-Ag.mp3|titles=2012 Census of Ag]
“The 2012 Census of Agriculture provides farmers with a powerful voice. The information gathered through the Census influences policy decisions that can have a tremendous impact on farmers and their communities for years to come,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I strongly encourage all farmers, no matter how large or small their operation, to promptly complete and return their Census, so they can voice to the nation the value and importance of agriculture.”
Vilsack added that in addition to affecting policy decisions, Census information also influences community growth and development. Many companies review Census data when determining where to establish or expand their businesses, as well as where they can go for supplies of locally-produced food and agricultural products, which further emphasizes the importance of supplying accurate information. Information from the Census also is valuable to explain the many ways farming is important to urban or non-farming residents and decision-makers.
“Along with their accomplishments as business men and women, farmers know about the challenges they face in their local areas,” said Vilsack. “Taking part in the Census is increasingly important to farmers and every community in America because it provides important information and helps tell the true story about the state of agriculture in the United States today.”
All farmers and ranchers should receive a Census form in the mail by early January. Completed forms are due by February 4, 2013. Farmers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.
For more information about the Census, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828). The Census of Agriculture is your voice, your future, your responsibility.