BRIDGEWATER-- State and federal agriculture officials are urging farmers to complete the 2012 Census of Agriculture. It's due by the end of May, and comes out every five years.
The census can be completed online at agcensus.usda.gov. It gives the government very detailed information on farms, including the value of land, a record of what farmers are growing, and the ways farmers do business.
Virginia's Agriculture Commissioner Matt Lohr said it's very similar to the population census the federal government undertakes every 10 years. The information is broken down into every state, and each county.
Carl Arey, the Augusta County Farm Bureau president, believes it's an important form of communication to the government. "I think it gives the government a sense of what agriculture is doing because so many of them sit behind a desk," he said. "If they look at these reports and the census, they can get a feel of how agriculture is doing financially and if they're going to be able to feed the people of the world."
Congress uses the information in its farm bill, which is the way it implements policy in agriculture. The bill has to be passed every five years. The current one has faced delays, but could be debated again soon.