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Did you know that the 2022 Census of Agriculture mails this fall? This once-every-five-year data collection impacts decisions about the Farm Bill, disaster assistance, grants, programs, rural and urban investment, and more. For the University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative and groups like us across the nation, the ag census data helps tell our neighbors, the nation, and the world our ag story.
The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land – rural or urban – count if $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year. If you missed the deadline to receive the 2022 Ag Census, you can still sign up online to be counted in future data collection efforts. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) uses the Census to gain a better understanding of farm land use and ownership, producer characteristics, production practices, income, and expenditures. Several notable changes for 2022 include new questions about the use of precision agriculture, hemp production, hair sheep, and updates to internet access questions.
Responses from the Ag Census also help the USDA with the periodic reports on topics like irrigation and water management, local food marketing, organics, and land tenure. These surveys are follow-on components of the Census of Agriculture program that help give a more detailed picture of the common practices on national and state levels.
If you signed up to participate in the Census you will receive your questionnaire in the mail sometime in November. Producers can respond online using their unique survey code or return their completed questionnaires by mail. Responses are due back to USDA by February 2023. Data from the census will be analyzed and reported in the Spring or Summer of 2024.
NASS is bound by law (Title 7, U.S. Code, and the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act or CIPSEA, Public Law 107-347) – and pledges to every data provider – to use the information for statistical purposes only. NASS publishes only aggregated data, not individual or farm-specific data.
To learn about the Census of Agriculture, access previous reports, and read more about NASS methodological practices, visit nass.usda.gov/AgCensus. You can also contact Shareefah R. Williams, Maryland and Delaware State Statistician and USDA- National Agricultural Statistics Service at: Maryland Field Office, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 201401; 301-347-8179.