By Hubert Hamer, Administrator – USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
The USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture is officially underway across the United States and Puerto Rico. It is important for every farmer, rancher, and producer to make sure they respond by the deadline on Feb. 6.
Every five years, America’s producers have the opportunity to take part in the nation’s only, most comprehensive, and impartial data collection for agriculture. Since 1840, the ag census has played a significant role in showing the value of agriculture and informs decision-makers on how and where to allocate resources. The data collected impact everything from farm programs and funding, crop insurance rates, rural development, disaster assistance, the Farm Bill, and more.
Producers, your voice needs to be represented in these important data. Who better to tell the story of American agriculture than the producers themselves? These statistics will directly impact our farming and ranching communities for years to come and without your input, your hard work to provide safe and abundant agricultural products to the world risks being underserved.
For instance, understanding farm economics like value of production and income can help guide loan and grant assistance. Another example is that this year’s ag census includes updates to internet access questions. Decision-makers can use NASS data to determine service gaps such as the case for investment in broadband access and infrastructure. Also, because the ag census has been conducted for over 160 years, the data can help identify trends. The ability to see how U.S. agriculture has changed over time aids our nation as we plan for the future.
If you are a crop, livestock or forestry grower with sales of $1,000 or more, you are eligible and welcomed to participate in the Census of Agriculture. If you did not receive a census form, contact: nass.usda.gov/AgCensus or call 800-727-9540.
The questionnaire may look long, but the good news is that producers only fill out the information that pertains to their operation. We have also looked for opportunities to make responding more convenient than ever before, including launching our new online Respondent Portal. Answering the questionnaire online is fast and secure. Just go to agcounts.usda.gov and enter your unique survey code. But whether producers respond online, or by mail, it is important to be counted. Better data can lead to better decisions and better policies.
We also want our producers to know that, by law, USDA keeps all personally identifiable information confidential and uses the data collected for statistical purposes only, publishing it in aggregate form to prevent farmers or farm operations from being disclosed. So, though producers are sharing information about their agricultural operation, they remain anonymous in the data.
We recognize how incredibly busy our producers are, so I want to thank them in advance for taking the time to respond by Feb. 6, and for all they do in support of U.S. agriculture.
USDA NASS will release the results from the ag census in 2024. For questions or to learn more about the Census of Agriculture, visit nass.usda.gov/AgCensus or call 800-727-9540.
Hubert Hamer is the Administrator of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.