Farmers and ranchers across the nation soon will start receiving the 2017 Census of Agriculture, which is only conducted once every five years.
Producers can mail completed census forms or respond online via the web questionnaire. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has extensively revised the online questionnaire to make it more convenient for producers, according to NASS Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater.
“The updated online questionnaire is very user-friendly—it can now be used on any electronic device and can be saved and revisited as the producer’s schedule allows,” Rater said. “Responding online saves time and protects data quality. Better data means informed decisions, and that’s why it is so important that every producer respond and be represented.”
New time-saving features of the online questionnaire include automatically calculating totals, skipping sections that do not pertain to the operation, and providing drop-down menus of frequent responses.
The census website will continue to be updated with new information through the census response deadline of Feb. 5, 2018. One recently added feature is a new video from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue reminding all producers to respond when they receive their 2017 Census of Agriculture in the mail this fall.
Revisions and additions to the 2017 Census of Agriculture aim to capture a more detailed account of the industry. Producers will see a new question about military veteran status, expanded questions about food marketing practices, and questions about on-farm decision-making to better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers and others involved in running the business.
The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them and is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the country. The data is used to make decisions that shape American agriculture—from creating and funding farm programs to boosting services for communities and the industry.
For more information, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 800-727-9540.