If you're a farmer or rancher, it's your last call to be counted.
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently sent the 2017 Census of Agriculture to more than 3 million of our nation’s farmers and ranchers. The deadline to respond is February 5, 2018.
The Census of Agriculture is the most comprehensive source of data portraying U.S. agriculture. Conducted by NASS once every five years, the census provides data on national, state and county levels.
American Farmland Trust used data from the most recent 2012 Census of Agriculture, which was released in 2014, to:
- Understand the extent of agriculture and how much land supports the current level of production. Nationwide, 2.1 million farms cover 914,527,657 acres. Farmers and ranchers manage 40.5 percent of the U.S. total land area.
- Provide information about the economic health of farm and ranch operations. In 2012, farms and ranches generated more than $394.6 billion in agricultural sales, up 32.8 percent from 2007. Farm production expenses also increased by about $88 billion. Overall, U.S. farms still realized a $92 billion increase in net cash income, which was up 29.3 percent from 2007.
- Track information about farm operator age and the amount of land they own. The average age of operators is now 58.3. There are nearly six times as many operators 65 and older as 34 and younger. Older operators farm 32 percent of U.S. agricultural land and own 73 percent of these acres.
- Give us data about the next generation of farmers. The number and percentage of beginning farmers has reached a 30-year low. Just between 2007 and 2012, the number of beginners dropped 20 percent to 469,098.
Policymakers, service providers and advocates use the data garnered from the Census to help us understand trends, identify issues, and make the case for policies and programs that support producers and protect agricultural land.
If you are a farmer or rancher, please take time to fill in your census questionnaire by February 5, 2018. NASS encourages producers to respond online at www.agcounts.usda.govto take advantage of new time-saving features, such as automatic calculations, and the convenience of being accessible on mobile and desktop devices.
More information about the Census of Agriculture is available at https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/.