From the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball has highlighted changes to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, which will be mailed out to farmers later this year.
The Census of Agriculture is the only complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and their operators. An accurate Census of Agriculture is vitally important to New York farms and rural communities because of its role in driving funding and program support at the federal level.
Changes to this year’s Census of Agriculture include: the collection of data on active-duty and military veteran farmers, more detailed information on marketing practices, and the launch of an improved online questionnaire.
“The Census of Agriculture is an extremely valuable tool for communities. The data it collects helps track New York’s strengths in agriculture and its importance to the economy, and it helps us identify trends to capitalize on to further grow the industry," said Ball. "All farmers should participate in the count — the results directly affect the funding of research, marketing and other programs that support our farms.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts the Census of Agriculture. The last Census of Agriculture was conducted in 2012.
This year, the Census will again gather information on farms and ranches growing fruits, vegetables or raising animals, as long as $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold or normally would have been sold during the census year.
In addition to standard questions, the Census will also include a new question on active-duty and military veteran farmers to better understand if farming has become a viable career path for our servicemen and women, and to help direct outreach and programs toward veterans.
The 2017 Census of Agriculture will also seek additional information about marketing practices to gain insight into the value of agricultural products sold for consumption. As a result, the information on the number of farms participating in direct marketing and the dollar value of direct marketing sales.
This will help the industry understand the value of food sales directly to consumers and sales to retail markets, institutions, and food hubs.
The census questionnaire will be mailed to more than three million U.S. farmers this December. NASS is encouraging farmers to respond online this year. The improved online questionnaire is convenient, intuitive and accessible on any electronic device. It will be available on the NASS website starting November 27, 2017.
“The Census of Agriculture remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation,” said Blair Smith, National Agricultural Statistics Service New York State Statistician.
“As such, census results are relied upon heavily by those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, and farmers and ranchers themselves,”
Census of Agriculture responses are due by Feb. 5, 2018. The results will be available beginning in February 2019, in aggregate form only, to ensure that no individual operation or producer can be identified as required by federal law.
For more information about the census, please visit the NASS website, follow NASS on Twitter @usda_nass, or call (800) 727-9540.