2017 Census of Agriculture Response Deadline Approaching
Farmers Should Respond by Mail, Online by February 5
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture reminds Maryland farmers that the deadline for the 2017 Census of Agriculture is approaching. Producers should respond online at agcounts.usda.gov or by mail by February 5. The online questionnaire offers new timesaving features.
“Your answers to the census impact farm programs and rural services that support our community,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “It is very important that we all fill out surveys to ensure that this year’s census is an accurate reflection of our industry.”
The Census of Agriculture is conducted by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), and it is the only NASS questionnaire mailed to every producer across the country and is conducted just once every five years. The Census provides a complete account of the industry, its changes, and emerging trends. Census data is widely used, often relied on when developing the Farm Bill and other farm policy, and when making decisions about disaster relief, community planning, technology development, and more. In the 2012 Census of Agriculture for Maryland, 18.7 percent of principal operators were women and 16.2 percent of principal operators had been farming less than 10 years.
This year, NASS has extensively revised the online census questionnaire at agcounts.usda.gov to make it more convenient for producers. Farmers can either mail in their completed census form or take advantage of new time-saving features by responding online. The online system calculates totals for the producer and skips sections that do not pertain to the operation.
“The census remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation,” said Dale P. Hawks, Maryland State Statistician for USDA’s NASS Northeastern Region. “It’s a critical tool that gives producers a voice and opportunity to influence decisions that will shape the future of their operations, communities, and industries.”
In the 2012 census, Maryland farmers reported a total of 12,256 farms, spanning over 2 million acres. These numbers represented a five percent decrease in the number of Maryland farms from the previous census in 2007. Market value of agricultural products sold was $2.3 billion, an increase of 24 percent from the previous census for Maryland. This telling information and thousands of additional farm and ranch statistics are only available every five years, as a direct result of responses to the census.
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