BATON ROUGE: Louisiana’s farmers and ranchers will soon have the opportunity to strongly represent agriculture in their communities by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The census, which is conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), will be mailed at the end of this year to all states and is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches, and those who operate them.
Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said, “The Census of Agriculture is a very important source of information for those of us working to ensure our ag producers are recognized for the economic contributions they make to the country and are properly represented at the federal, state and local levels. Agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, farmers and ranchers are all part of this process and we must have any and all data relative to our industry to move it forward.”
The Census of Agriculture highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and other topics. The 2012 Census of Agriculture revealed that more than three million farmers operated more than two million farms, spanning over 914 million acres. This was a four percent decrease in the number of U.S. farms from the previous census in 2007. However, agriculture sales, income, and expenses increased between 2007 and 2012. This telling information and thousands of other agriculture statistics are a direct result of responses to the Census of Agriculture.
“Today, when data are so important, there is strength in numbers,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “For farmers and ranchers, participation in the 2017 Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity to shape American agriculture – its policies, services and assistance programs – for years to come.”
Producers who are new to farming or did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 Census of Agriculture report form by visiting www.agcensus.usda.gov and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June. NASS defines a farm as 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 (2017).
For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture and to see how census data are used, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call (800) 727-9540.