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Ball: Remember to Participate in USDA Census
New York Ag Connection - 11/09/2017

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball Wednesday reminded New York farmers and agricultural producers that questionnaires for the 2017 Census of Agriculture will be mailed starting this month through December. Producers can return their completed forms by mail, or respond through an improved online questionnaire. Conducted every five years by the United States Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census is the only complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and their operators. Census data are used to create and fund agricultural programs and services at the federal level.

"It has never been easier to complete the Census of Agriculture and I encourage every New York Farmer to make sure they are counted," said Ball. "The census results directly influence funding for research, marketing, services and valuable programs for our industry. Better data help our leaders in Washington make informed decisions. With accurate information, we can also track trends, identify strengths and areas of need to help our industry grow and boost New York's economy."

The census questionnaire will be mailed to more than three million U.S. farmers and ranchers this year. Responses are due by February 5, 2018 and the results will be available beginning in February 2019. The Census of Agriculture includes information on farms and ranches growing produce or other crops, or raising animals that sold or normally would have sold at least $1,000 of such products during the census year. Federal law requires that information on individual farming operations or producers be kept confidential and the data be used for statistical purposes only.

This year, NASS is encouraging farmers to respond online. It has revised the web-based questionnaire to make it quicker and easier to use. It will now automatically calculate totals, allow responders to skip sections that do not pertain to their operation, and provide drop-down menus of frequent responses. The improved online questionnaire is accessible on any electronic device and will be available on the NASS website.

For the first time this year, producers will see a new question about military veteran status to better understand if farming has become a viable career path for servicemen and women and to help direct outreach and programs toward veterans. The census will also include expanded questions about food marketing practices, and questions about on-farm decision-making to gain insight on the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers, and others.

Blair Smith, USDA, NASS, New York State Statistician, said "The Ag Census is a critical tool that gives producers a voice and opportunity to influence decisions that will support the future of their operations, communities, and industries."

The last Census of Agriculture was conducted in 2012. The census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the country. Farmers and ranchers, trade associations, government, extension educators, researchers, and many others rely on accurate census data to make program and policy decisions that shape American agriculture.

For more information about the census, please visit the NASS website, follow NASS on Twitter @usda_nass, or call (800) 727-9540.

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