USDA to Prepare for 2012 Census

The National Agricultural Statistical Service, or NASS, will soon mail out the 2012 farm census forms to farmers nationwide. The census, which will not be complete for about a year, helps everyone in the agricultural industry (from farmers planning an upcoming harvest to U.S. Department of Agriculture officials planning farm subsidy funding).

Like its federal counterpart, the farm census occupies a unique place in the U.S. Sent out to all farms (which the NASS defines as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced or sold), participation is mandated by federal law.

Unlike previous censuses, the 2012 version will have new questions on horses, forestry, and regional production. “Once we get input from different groups on things they would like to see on the questionnaire, we design a questionnaire, we run out and content test it with farmers and ranchers to see how the questions play out, then we get the questionnaire finalized,” says Renee Picanso of the National Agricultural Statistics Service in a USDA interview.

In addition to new questions, the 2012 Census will be the first that begins to consider the use of the internet and electronic devices like iPads to gather census info.

Regarding the Census as a whole, “A lot of funding is distributed based on this data,” Picanso says, “So it’s important to individuals as well as to local communities to have the most accurate and up to date information available on agriculture.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer