Farmers and ranchers have a few weeks left to respond to the Census of Agriculture. Micheal Clements shares more on why your response matters.
Clements: The Census of Agriculture provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation, according to American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President of Public Policy, Sam Kieffer.
Kieffer: The Census of Agriculture is done every five years. It covers all of agriculture production. And it's the one and only complete count of farms and ranches in America, and the people who operate them.
Clements: Kieffer says the data from the survey is used to shape local and federal decisions.
Kieffer: It's used by lawmakers not only at the federal level, but also at state and local level to make important decisions that impact rural communities. The Census of Agriculture is also used by organizations like Farm Bureau and those who advocate on behalf of farm and ranch families. It's also used by community planners and others making decisions that impact how land is used at the local level.
Clements: And, federal law means your data must remain confidential.
Kieffer: Farmers and ranchers are concerned about their farm data and understandably so. But the USDA in this case, particularly it's the National Agricultural Statistics Service, they are bound by federal law to keep data secure, and they only publish the data in aggregated terms. So, no individual names or addresses or identifying features are released in any of the data. Instead, it is truly just aggregated information that is put out for public use.
Clements: Farmers and ranchers have until February 6 to respond to the Census of Agriculture. Any questions should be directed to your local USDA office. Micheal Clements, Washington.