Harrisburg, PA – Secretary Russell Redding today urged every farmer and grower in the state to step up and be counted in the 2017 Agriculture Census so that Pennsylvania is well represented and able to inform future public policy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the census deadline through spring to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture.
Every five years, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts a nationwide count of those who earn at least $1,000 per year growing food and other crops. The data informs funding decisions, as well as food and agriculture policies and programs for the entire country.
“Participating in the census is the best way for farmers to help to shape policies and decisions that affect their livelihoods and communities,” said Secretary Redding. “Farm policy, disaster relief, insurance, loans, and agribusiness are all affected by census data. Stand up and be counted, so that the numbers accurately reflect our industry.”
Census questionnaires were mailed to farmers, ranchers, and growers in December 2017. The form requires approximately 50 minutes to complete, but USDA encourages farmers to complete the more convenient online form at www.agcensus.usda.gov. The online questionnaire is accessible on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.
NASS will continue to follow up with producers through the spring with mailings, phone calls, and personal visits. The online form allows users to save time by skipping sections that do not apply and provides them with automatically calculated totals.
Under federal law, everyone who received the 2017 Census of Agriculture questionnaire must submit a response, even if they are not currently farming.
Several 2017 census questions gather new information, including the number of farmers who are military veterans or who are actively serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard.
“Two percent of Americans feed us, and two percent of Americans protect us. The new census question on military service will help USDA quantify how many of these heroes have also helped put food on our tables,” said Redding. “Those who have served in the military have developed many of the same skills needed to succeed in farming — exceptional planning capabilities, an incomparable work ethic, and a commitment to serving the greater good.”
Other new questions explore food marketing practices, comparing direct sales to consumers versus sales through retailers. NASS is legally required to keep all information confidential.
NASS notes several uses for census data, including:
- Companies and cooperatives use the facts and figures to determine the locations of facilities that will serve agricultural producers.
- Community planners and local governments use the information to target programs and services to rural residents who need them.
- Elected officials use the numbers from the census when shaping farm policies and programs.
- Farmers use the data to assess risk and opportunity for their own operations.
For specific examples of how the census data from previous years has been used, visit Your Census. Your Story.
For more information, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-888-424-7828.
MEDIA CONTACT: Casey Smith - 717.783.0133
# # #