Farm Census Shows Ag Shifts

The 2012 Farm Census, while still incomplete, is already reflecting major changes in the face of American agricultural production.
The census, completed every five years, is one of the most important tools for individuals in the farm sector. Congressional leaders use the information in the farm census to craft farm legislation and farm subsidies/supports. Farmers use the information in the census to help plan harvests and predict prices.
The importance of the census is reflected in its mandatory nature. Like the federal census, participation in the agricultural census is required. Farmers who refuse to fill out their census form could face fines or imprisonment.
While most farmers race through their census forms, the recent questionnaire reflects some major changes in the face of modern agriculture. For the first time, organic farming is included in the census (2007 saw supplemental forms sent out after the main census), as is information about community supported agriculture programs and direct sales to consumers.
The new questions reflect a greater federal interest in local consumption and sustainable agriculture, an interest that is further reflected in the US Department of Agriculture’s recent efforts to reconnect local consumers with local producers.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer