State agricultural officials in every Northeast and Mid-Atlantic state are urging farmers to sign up to participate in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. It's easy. But you need to do it by July 1.
It's extremely important to ensure you're included in this national count of U.S. farms and ranches, says Maryland Ag Secretary Buddy Hance. USDA defines a farm as any place that produces, sells or normally would sell $1,000 or more of agricultural products this year.
"This Census provides policy makers with the only source of impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation," he explains. "It helps give us the reliable, credible data we need to show the value and importance of agriculture. I urge all producers to sign up and participate. By doing so, you will be helping all of U.S. agriculture."
Participation is especially important for those who didn't realize they qualify as a farm or haven't previously participated.
"The Census is the leading source of facts about American agriculture," adds Renee Picanso, Census and Survey Division Director at USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. "The wealth of data available from the Census includes statistics on small, family farms to large, corporate farms; information on young, beginning farmers to older, experienced farmers; and insight into traditional, rural farming versus trends in areas such as lifestyle and urban farming."
Census forms will be mailed in late December 2012. You'll be asked to respond by mail or online by February 4, 2013. Responding online saves you time, and saves taxpayer dollars for return postage.
To learn more and sign up for the Census of Agriculture, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov. All individual information will be kept confidential, as guaranteed by law.