Farmers throughout the U.S. received a hefty white envelope labeled “U.S. Census of Agriculture” at the turn of the year. Not only is it an important civic duty to fill out and return the census, it’s illegal to ignore it.
“United States law (Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113), requires all those who receive a Census of Agriculture report form to respond even if they did not operate a farm or ranch in 2017,” USDA’s website says.
Why is the Census important? USDA says the Census of Agriculture provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation.
“Through the Census of Agriculture, producers can show the nation the value and importance of agriculture, and they can help influence the decisions that will shape the future of American agriculture for years to come,” they say. “By responding to the Census of Agriculture, producers are helping themselves, their communities, and all of U.S. agriculture.”
Likely most importantly for farmers, legislators use the numbers from the Census when shaping farm policies and programs. For example, when crafting the Farm Bill Congressional staffers will use the Census in addition to historical payment figures to calculate the projected cost of commodity programs, including Title 1.
Completed forms are due by February 5, 2018. Respondents can complete the Census online at www.agcensus.usda.gov or return their forms by mail.