The Ag Census Is an Opportunity for Farmers to Stand Up and Be Counted
By Ryan Quarles
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture
FRANKFORT (March 27, 2018) — My fellow Kentucky farmers, you still have the opportunity to participate in the Census of Agriculture. I encourage you to fill out your census form to make sure your voice is heard. By filing your Ag Census form, you have the power to guide decisions made in government offices and corporate boardrooms that will affect you and your farming operation. If you don’t speak up, you could get left out!
The Ag Census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the country, so it’s a valuable resource for government, business, researchers, trade associations, and even other farmers. Data from the census are used to help make decisions in community planning, farm assistance programs, technology development, farm advocacy, agribusiness setup, rural development, disaster assistance, and more. The information you submit must be kept confidential by law.
The data collected from the Ag Census shows us where Kentucky agriculture has been and gives us clues to where it is going. For example, census results from the past draw a clear upward line for Kentucky’s poultry industry, which has grown from 2.2 million broilers a year in the 1980s to more than 305 million in 2012. At the same time, the number of tobacco farms in Kentucky has plummeted by 90 percent in the last 20 years while the size of the average tobacco plot has almost quadrupled in that span. Kentucky’s corn, soybean, and beef cattle production has been pretty consistently strong over the past several decades.
What might someone do with that kind of information? Again, government could use it to make decisions on funding, policy, and programs. But a business could use that information to decide where to locate a processing plant or an equipment dealership. A farmer could use that information to decide whether to buy, lease, or sell land; buy new equipment or keep used equipment going a little longer; stick with the same commodities or try something else and look for greener pastures, so to speak.
If you farm, you should have received the Ag Census form in the mail. You can just fill it out and mail it back. If you prefer, you also have the option of responding to the census questions on your computer – just go to agcensus.usda.gov and follow the instructions.
When a large number of farmers in a state or region fail to answer the census, they effectively give up a seat at the table where decisions are made and funding is appropriated. Don’t let that be you! If you haven’t already, please answer the Census of Agriculture today.