Arkansas producers should have received their 2022 Census of Agriculture forms in the mail in late December 2022, Dr. Henry English, head of the Small Farm Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, said. Taken every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the ag census is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them.
Feb. 6 is the response deadline for the census. Producers can respond online, by mail or by telephone. For more information on responding to the census, producers can visit www.nass.usda.gov/Ag Census/.
As required by federal law, all responses are completely confidential. NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified.
“It is important for all farmers – and especially small and minority farmers – to fill out and return census forms to NASS,” Dr. English said. “This information will help keep important programs and bring new ones to the state.”
Census information helps in planning and justifying many programs specifically aimed at small farmers, he said. One factor used by organizations and agencies in justifying programs is the number of minority farmers in an area or state. Without the census data, some of the programs could be in jeopardy.
Dr. English said even small plots of land – whether rural or urban – should be counted for the census if $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or would have normally been sold, during the census year.
New topics in the ag census reflect trends and changes in the U.S. agricultural industry to provide relevant data, Dr. English said. Several new additions to this year’s census include questions about the use of precision agriculture, hemp production, hair sheep and updates to internet access.
According to NASS, the Census of Agriculture provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation. Through the ag census, producers can show the nation the value and importance of U.S. agriculture and influence decisions that will shape the future of their industries.
Census of Agriculture data work for farmers by improving decisions about jobs, transportation, production practices, new technologies, marketing opportunities, farm services and programs, and local, state and federal policy. For these reasons, it is important to respond to the ag census.