Stat Swap

January 6, 2013 08:21 PM
Stat Swap

Census of Agriculture will help guide farm policy

The 2012 Census of Agriculture features several firsts—among them, new questions about land-use practices, Internet access and crops grown for production of renewable energy. These details and others will help policymakers develop and fund programs benefiting producers and rural communities, says Renee Picanso, director of USDA’s Census and Survey Division.

"There’s strength in numbers, so the more farmers that are counted, the better for the  agricultural industry," she says. The industry uses the data to select locations for new processing plants and storage facilities, evaluate transportation needs and more.

The Census is issued every five years. While participation in the survey is mandated by federal law, most farmers will have to complete only several of the 24 pages and should be able to do so in about 30 minutes, Picanso says. Individual data is kept confidential, and county-level data won’t be published if it would disclose the identity of a producer.

The survey must be returned by Feb. 4. Census officials will follow up by phone and in person with farmers who haven’t responded. Results will be published in early 2014.

For more information about the 2012 Census of Agriculture, click on the "Census" tab at

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