Farmers urged to complete Census of Agriculture

Indiana farmers should be watching their mail boxes for more than just holiday cards this December.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistical Service will soon mail out its 2017 Census of Agriculture to more than 3 million farms nationwide.

Census data will help shape American agricultural policy over the next five years, said Greg Matli, director of the NASS Indiana field office.

Federal law requires all U.S. farmers to respond to the census. A farm is defined as any place that produced and sold, or had the potential to sell, at least $1,000 in agricultural products during the census year – in this case, 2017.

“Many people who don’t think of themselves as farmers actually meet the definition according to the USDA,” Matli said. “If you own horses, backyard chickens or large urban gardens you might qualify as a farmer and should fill out the census.”

Matli said the census also leads to significant benefits for Indiana farmers.

“This is your opportunity to be counted and to tell your story,” he said.

The USDA uses that information to make decisions about the farm safety net and other government programs. In addition, the data is used by community leaders, agribusinesses, lawmakers, researchers, local governments and educational institutions.

The deadline for completing the survey is Feb. 5. Results are expected to be released in February 2019.

For more information about the census, go to www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 888-424-7828.