Farmers and ranchers in Michigan, and throughout the Nation, will soon have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities by taking part in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them.
"Every 5 years, farmers are given the chance to be sure we understand and know what is happening in agriculture. If we don't know the true situation in agriculture, we have to rely on anecdotal information," says Jay Johnson, Director of the USDA, NASS, Michigan Field Office.
The Census of Agriculture helps tell the story of U.S. agriculture. Without the information collected, we wouldn't know that 3.3 million farmers in the United States, only 1% of our total population, provide feed, fuel, and fiber to the other 99%. While that seems like a huge task, we know farmers are stepping up to the challenge because data indicates that U.S. agriculture is growing.
"As the second most diverse agricultural state in the nation, the Census of Agriculture is a critical tool that provides Michigan the opportunity to reinforce the importance of agriculture to its economy," Johnson says. For example, the data are a key input for the Michigan State University Product Center's $91.4 billion estimate of the food and agriculture system's impact to the State's economy. Also, these data are used to allocate grant funding to states for such programs as the Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) program. Michigan received over $1.3 million from this program in 2012 in support of specialty crop initiatives, research, and extension.
Do your part and be counted when you receive your form, because there's strength in numbers that only the Census can reveal. NASS will mail out Census forms in late December, to collect data for the 2012 calendar year. Completed forms are due by February 4, 2013. Producers can fill out the Census online via a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov, or return their form by mail. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.
For more information, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call the NASS, Michigan Field Office at (800) 453-7501. The Census of Agriculture is your voice, your future, your responsibility.