With the 2012 Census of Agriculture now arriving in mailboxes across Iowa, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is reminding farmers to complete and return their form.
Just like farmers invest in new technology or new machinery for their farm every few years, the time spent completing the Census is an investment in providing updated information used by everyone involved in agriculture and rural communities.
Conducted only once every five years by NASS, the Census is much more than a count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It is a look at land use and ownership, production practices, expenditures and other factors that affect the way farmers do business and succeed in the 21st Century.
“I urge all farmers to respond,” said Bill Northey, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. “The results of the Census help us promote agriculture and are used by companies, cooperatives, planners and lawmakers who serve Iowa farmers and communities – including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations and many others. Farmers and ranchers also use Census data to help make informed decisions about the future of their own operations.”
Taking part in the Census is increasingly important to Iowa producers and communities because it provides a snapshot of the agricultural industry in every county of the state. This local information can affect policy decisions as well as influence community growth and development.
“The Census provides producers an opportunity to help shape farm programs, boost rural services and grow their industry,” added Greg Thessen, Director of NASS’ Iowa Field Office. “Many companies review Census data when determining where to establish or expand their businesses, and even when looking for where they can go for supplies of locally-produced food and agricultural products – all examples that emphasize the importance of responding and supplying accurate Census information.”
All Iowa farmers and ranchers should receive a Census form in the mail by early January. Completed forms are due by Feb. 4, 2013. Farmers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.
For more information about the Census, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828).