Ag Census

Gov. Mark Warner is asking farm families to help the state determine agriculture funding.

The governor is asking farm households to respond to the Census of the Agriculture, and has proclaimed January as the month of the same name.

Warner says that farm organizations, businesses, government officials and schools will use information from the 2002 Census of Agriculture to evaluate policies and programs and to develop production and market strategies.

State Statistician Steve Manheimer says that anyone who gets a census form is required by law to respond.

Farmers who produced or sold $1,000 or more of agriculture products this year received census reporting forms.

Federal law guarantees confidentiality of the information that farmers provide.

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Census of Agriculture FAQ’s

  • Why is the Census of Agriculture important?
    The Census of Agriculture is the most comprehensive source of data portraying our Nation's agriculture. It is the only source of uniform data on agricultural production and operator characteristics for each county, State, and the United States. It is a measurement of where farmers and ranchers stand, their production costs and cropping systems, their farm supply needs, and how trends are changing. Because of the importance of this information, Congress requires USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to conduct the Census of Agriculture (Title 7, U.S. Code) every five years. From 1840 to 1920 the Census of Agriculture was taken every 10 years. Since 1925 the census has been taken about every 5 years. The 2002 Census of Agriculture is the Nation's 26th census.

  • Is the information on individual operations kept confidential?
    Yes. Farmers and ranchers are guaranteed by law (Title 7, US Code) that their individual information will be kept confidential. NASS uses the information only for statistical purposes and publishes data only in tabulated totals. Your report cannot be used for purposes of taxation, investigation, or regulation. The law also provided that copies retained in your files are immune from legal process. The privacy of individual census records is also protected from disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act. Under this same law, NASS employees are subject to severe penalties if they release data on individual operations. NASS safeguards the privacy of operators' responses and will not disclose any data about an individual farm or ranch operation.

  • Who uses the Census of Agriculture data?
    Farm and ranch organizations use the census data to evaluate and propose policies and programs that help the agricultural producer. Farm and ranch cooperatives, commodity and trade associations, and agribusinesses use the data to develop market strategies and to determine locations of facilities that will serve agricultural producers. Federal Government policymakers use the Census of Agriculture data in drafting legislation to help resolve agricultural problems. State and local governments use the data for planning rural development, agricultural research, and extension programs. For planners and economists, the Census of Agriculture provides benchmark data for current statistical series such as the Gross Domestic Product, Producer Price Index, and Farm Income Accounts that are produced by the US Department of Agriculture and other organizations, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis.

  • How is the Census conducted?
    To minimize respondent burden, NASS limits the items asked on the report forms for all farms to just these basic subjects: land use and ownership, acres irrigated, crop acreage and quantities harvested, livestock and poultry inventories, value of products sold, payments for participation in Federal farm programs, amounts received from Commodity Credit Corporation loans, number of hired farm workers, and operator characteristics. Additionally, 25 percent of the farms are asked additional questions on production expenses, fertilizer and chemicals used, machinery and equipment inventories, market value of land and buildings, and income from farm-related sources. Report forms are tailored for various regions of the country and are specific to the crops grown in a particular area.

  • What questions are asked in the 2002 Census?
    To minimize respondent burden, NASS limits the items asked on the report forms for all farms to just these basic subjects: land use and ownership, acres irrigated, crop acreage and quantities harvested, livestock and poultry inventories, value of products sold, payments for participation in Federal farm programs, amounts received from Commodity Credit Corporation loans, number of hired farm workers, and operator characteristics. Additionally, 25 percent of the farms are asked additional questions on production expenses, fertilizer and chemicals used, machinery and equipment inventories, market value of land and buildings, and income from farm-related sources. Report forms are tailored for various regions of the country and are specific to the crops grown in a particular area.

  • What changes were made to the report forms since the 1997 Census?
    New information will be collected from farms with multiple operators (up to 3 operators), computer/Internet use, production contracts/landlord shares, certified organic production commodities, aquatic plants, acres treated with manure, grain storage capacity, new commodities (bison, deer, elk, llama, emus, and ostriches) and more detailed farm-related income. Wording changes were made to various questions in order to maintain consistency among the census and other NASS surveys.

  • Must a farmer or rancher answer the Census?
    Yes. United States law (Title 7, US Code) requires all those who receive a census report form to respond even if they did not operate a farm or ranch in 2002. Completed report forms are due Feb. 3, 2003. High quality census data depend on a complete response from everyone receiving a form.

  • What is considered a farm?
    A farm is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year.

  • How many farms do we expect to count?
    The most recent official estimate showed there were about 2.1 million farms in the United States.

  • When are the Census data released?
    NASS will begin release of data starting in the Spring of 2004, on both electronic and print media, with individual reports for all counties, States, and the Nation.

Source: http://www.nass.usda.gov/census/ (National Agricultural Statistics Service Web site) contributed to this report.


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