Census of Agriculture is out: Do your part, fill it out


By Tony Nye - OSU Extension



The rain, although not liked by some, is going to be welcomed by many farmers as our soils and ground water get recharged going into spring planting. If you recall, we got extremely dry this fall. I am curious if we will continue mild through the rest of winter, or we get a February blast later.

I recently received in the mail my 2022 Census of Agriculture (USDA) survey to be filled. I think since the weather has not been really pleasant to work outside, I will take some time and get it filled out and sent in.

Many of us should have also received one as it was sent in phases starting in December. Farm operations of all sizes, urban and rural, which produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural product in 2022 are included in the ag census.

“Census of Agriculture data are widely used by federal and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, and many others to inform decisions about policy and farm programs and services that aid producers and rural communities,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “By responding to the Census of Agriculture – by being represented in these important data – producers are literally helping to shape their futures.”

Collected in service to American agriculture since 1840 and now conducted every five years by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census of Agriculture tells the story and shows the value of U.S. agriculture. It highlights land use and ownership, producer characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, among other topics. Between ag census years, NASS considers revisions to the questionnaire to document changes and emerging trends in the industry. Changes to the 2022 questionnaire include new questions about the use of precision agriculture, hemp production, hair sheep, and updates to internet access questions.

Some individuals have questions to why and what about the census. So, first off, What is the Census of Agriculture?

The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land – whether rural or urban – count if $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year.

If your farm meets this benchmark and you have never received NASS surveys or censuses, you can sign up to be counted online by going to https://www.agcounts.usda.gov/static/get-counted.html

The Census of Agriculture, conducted once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, producer characteristics, production practices, income, and expenditures.

Another question I have heard is why is the Census of Agriculture important? The Census of Agriculture provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation. Through the ag census, producers can show the nation the value and importance of U.S. agriculture and influence decisions that will shape the future of their industries.

Here are a few questions that are addressed on the USDA website.

  • What’s new this census?

New data topics in the ag census reflect trends and changes in U.S. agriculture and ensure that the census continues to provide relevant agricultural data. Several notable changes for 2022 include new questions about the use of precision agriculture, hemp production, hair sheep and updates to internet access questions.

  • Who uses Census of Agriculture data?

Census of Agriculture data are used by those who serve farmers and rural communities — federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, researchers, trade associations, and many others.

    • Ag producers can use Census of Agriculture data to make informed decisions about their own operations, from production practices to marketing.
    • Companies and cooperatives use the data to determine where to locate facilities that will serve agricultural producers.
    • Community planners use the information to target needed services to rural residents.
    • Legislators use census data when shaping farm policies and programs.
    • Students, educators, and researchers use the data as part of their ongoing studies, education, and research initiatives

To learn more about the Census of Agriculture, visit www.nass.usda.gov/agcensus or call 800-727-9540. On the website, producers and other data users can access frequently asked questions, past ag census data, partner tools to help spread the word about the upcoming ag census, special study information, and more. For highlights of these and the latest information on the upcoming Census of Agriculture, follow USDA NASS on twitter @usda_nass.

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.

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By Tony Nye

OSU Extension