Monday, January 21, 2013

National Agricultural Statistics

The USDA is spending lots of money to execute the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Since receiving my packet in the mail, I have received a phone call and a post card to remind me to complete the Census.
According to a press release, "The 2012 Census of Agriculture, the only source of consistent and comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation, is currently being mailed to millions of farmers across the United States. All farmers should receive a census form by early January.  Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the census."
Under federal law, any information provided in response to the survey or census is to be used only for statistical purposes. (7 USC Section 2204g(f)(3)) The USDA will compile the information collected and release statistics on how many people farm, how many acres are in organic production, how many livestock are owned by different size farms, and much more. The information published is not connected to any person’s name or personal information.
One of the most important reasons to complete the survey has to do with our elected officials. Legislators often look to see what sort of farms are in their districts, so this information has an impact on how these elected officials view agricultural issues. Keeping close track of these statistics can help steer important debates over public policy on agriculture and food.
I will soon open the envelope and complete the survey with information from this little farm in rural northcentral Pennsylvania.
In the past couple of days, I've run into several folks who tell me they're regular readers of my blog. To all of you, I say thanks and I pledge to update a little more frequently. I've begun a list of potential blog topics so keep reading - and commenting!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At the USDA Census of Agriculture website, you can view survey statistics (compiled data, only). So, the data are available to the public (not just the legislators). For example, we found out that in our Pennsylvania 5th District the number of farms has increased from 6,507 in 2002 to 7,337 in 2007 (an increase of 13%). However, the average Size of Farm has decreased by 10% from 155 acres in 2002 to 139 acres in 2007. So, we quickly concluded that we are seeing an up trend in smaller farms. Tell your legislators to support Small Farms and Local Food!