University of Missouri Extension economists urge farmers to complete the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Census of Agriculture. The census should arrive in farmers’ mailboxes in December. It can be returned by mail or securely submitted online.
MU Extension economist Ryan Milhollin says federal, state and local governments as well as agribusinesses, researchers, trade associations and others use the data to serve farmers and rural communities.
USDA conducts the survey every five years. It is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial data for every county in the U.S., Milhollin says.
Law requires response. “Even in you are no longer farming, please return the census form,” says Robert Garino, Missouri state statistician for USDA in Columbia. Otherwise, USDA continues to follow up with mailed questionnaires, phone calls or visits from a USDA enumerator.
Milhollin says information from the Census of Agriculture shapes programs, including MU Extension programs, that benefit many farm groups. It gives a picture of the economic impact of agriculture in the country.
Data strengthens numerous farm groups, large and small, Milhollin says. It helps policymakers see emerging trends such as young and beginning farmers and ranchers; women, veteran and minority farmers and ranchers; specialty crops; and organic production. This helps legislators make decisions that protect the future of agriculture, he says.
Find the survey online at agcensus.usda.gov. For more information, call 888-424-7828 (toll free) or contact Garino at 573-876-0950.