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Why You Should Complete the 2022 Ag Census

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Forms for the 2022 Census of Agriculture can be filled out by paper or on-line. USDA sent out paper forms to producers around the country earlier this month. The information helps officials and businesses make informed decisions and is used to provide grant money and disaster aid. The forms are due back by Feb. 6, 2023. (Image from USDA-NASS)

Every five years USDA takes a snapshot of U.S. agriculture, the demographics of farmers and ranchers and what they are growing.

USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) earlier this month mailed the 2022 Census of Agriculture paper questionnaires to producers around the country. They also have sent out codes for producers to fill out the information online as well. The deadline to respond is Feb. 6, 2023.

USDA cited the Census of Agriculture remains the only comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state, county, and U.S. territory. Farm operations of all sizes, urban and rural, which produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products in 2022, are included in the ag census. The data inform decisions about policy, programs, rural development, research, and more. The Census of Agriculture is the producer's voice in the future of American agriculture.

Information from the Ag Census is used by USDA itself, as well as an array of farm organizations, Extension educators, agribusinesses, researchers, journalists, federal, state and local officials to understand what is going on with American agriculture.

Jerry Costello, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said on a Twitter post that the information helps everyone "make informed decisions that directly affect your operations, communities and industries." Costello added, "This is why it is imperative every producer, no matter the size of the operation, urban or rural, are represented in this data."

North Dakota Soybean Growers noted on Twitter, "Why should I complete the #AgCensus? The Ag Census provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial #agriculture data for every state and county in the nation. This data is used by those who serve farmers and rural communities."

The Indiana corn and soybean grower groups pointed out, "Many grants & federal funds are allocated from this census to roads, internet access, agribusiness set-up, and much more."

Iowa State University Extension added, "The data are used to inform policy, programs, disaster assistance & more."

The Iowa Soybean Association, in a column on the Ag Census, detailed that farm associations appreciate the data from USDA-NASS for their studies, education and research initiatives. The data also helps when they advocate on issues because they can provide data on the number of producers and farm practices in their state.

"The Census provides the only county-level data on cover crop acreage nationwide and helps identify trends that can help tailor research. On U.S. cropland, the use of cover crops increased by 50 percent between 2012 and 2017. The anticipated growth of cover crop acreage from 2017 to 2022 is of great interest to organizations interested in conservation practices," the Iowa Soybean Association stated.

NASS also is bound by law to only publish aggregated data so no individual or farm can be identified.

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