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Census countdown begins for America’s farmers

WASHINGTON—U.S. farmers and ranchers soon will take part in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The census is conducted every five years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will mail census forms in late December to collect data for the 2012 calendar year. Completed forms are due by Feb. 4, 2013.

Producers can return their forms by mail or participate in the census online via a secure website at agcensus.usda.gov. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the census and requires the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service to keep all individual information confidential.

“The census remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation,” said Renee Picanso, director of the NASS Census and Survey Division. “It’s a critical tool that gives farmers a voice to influence decisions that will shape the future of their communities, industry and operations.”

In 2007, U.S. farmers reported more than 2 million farms on more than 922 million acres—nearly a 4 percent increase in the number of U.S. farms from the 2002 census. The new farms tended to have more diversified production, fewer acres, lower sales and younger operators who also had off-farm income.

The 2012 census will ask farmers for the first time about Internet usage, land use and crops used for renewable energy

Contact: Sue duPont, 202-690-8122, or Krissy Young, 202-690-8123, USDA.
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