Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska should be on the lookout for the 2017 Census of Agriculture in their mail.
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is sending out Census forms to producers in the state beginning this week.
The Census of Agriculture occurs every five years and provides data to farmers, ranchers, policymakers, and researchers.
Patrick Boyle, USDA NASS deputy regional director in Lincoln, says the information is important for the entire industry.
“It’s comparable across all states and across all counties, because it is a national program,” Boyle tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Just the sheer size of the number of people we contact – there’s nothing like it. No other program that we (USDA) do, any of our annual programs, reaches as many people as the census does.”
Any place from which at least $1,000 of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year will receive a form. That’s approximately 60,000 locations in Nebraska.
“We will try to follow up if we don’t hear back either online or through the mail,” Boyle explains. “We will attempt to follow up with some phone calls and possibly personal interviews. It’s critically important that those decision makers, those policymakers hear from folks out in rural Nebraska.”
Data gathered from the Census will be released in February 2019. According to NASS, information will be used to plan for the future, including: community planning, farm succession planning, store/company locations, availability of operational loans and other funding, and federal budget support for agriculture.
Most producers will get the standard form.
“We have a subsample of folks who may get a larger, more comprehensive version of the form, so we can still create statistics on a broader spectrum of topics,” Boyle says, “but we don’t overburden everybody in the sample with that long questionnaire.”
Boyle says everyone can respond online or with the paper form, but should do it by February 5, 2018.