BATON ROUGE – At this time, the deadline to respond to the 2017 Census of Agriculture by mail has been extended to the end of April. Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., is urging Louisiana farmers and ranchers to share information with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
“It is very important that our farmers and ranchers fill out this questionnaire. The information collected is used when developing the Farm Bill and other farm policy, and when making decisions about disaster relief, community planning, technology development, and more,” said Strain. “Census data will help accurately represent Louisiana’s diverse agriculture – from large and small crawfish farmers, fruit and vegetable growers, cattle producers, organic and urban farmers to row crop farmers. Without this information, Louisiana could possibly lose out on federal monies,” added Strain.
The Census of Agriculture is the only USDA NASS questionnaire mailed to every producer across the country and is conducted just once every five years. The census provides a complete account of the industry, its changes, and emerging trends.
Producers should respond online at www.agcounts.usda.gov or by mail. The online questionnaire offers new timesaving features.
The NASS mailed nearly 57,000 census forms in Louisiana to identify potential producers in the state and to collect the information about their operations that is necessary to help shape the future of American agriculture.
“The data from the census can be used to let lawmakers know what is going on in our industry – from how much is planted and harvested, livestock produced, increases in truck crops and farmers markets and to see how the face of agriculture is changing. This information can be used to see just how big or small revenues actually are so they can help determine where to direct necessary programs and federal money,” said Kathy Broussard, Louisiana statistician.
Everyone who received the 2017 Census of Agriculture questionnaire is to return it, even if they are not currently farming. The first few qualifying questions on the form will determine whether completing the entire questionnaire is necessary.
The census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation. Producers are required by law to respond; NASS is required by the same federal law to keep all information confidential, use the data only for statistical purposes, and only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation.
For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov. For questions or assistance with the census, call toll-free (888) 424-7828.