Census Countdown Begins For New Jersey Farmers
New Jersey farmers have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five 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.
Forms are being mailed out throughout the state and also are available online at https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/ with a submission deadline of February 5, 2018.
The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and other topics. This information is used by all those who serve farmers and rural communities from federal, state and local governments to agribusinesses and trade associations.
Two sections of the Census that are of particular interest to New Jersey farm and livestock owners are Production Expenses and Income from Farm-Related Sources. Production Expenses help show contribution of New Jersey agriculture to the economy. Another key to showing the importance of agriculture in New Jersey is Farm-Related Sources, which includes agri-tourism, pollinators, and boarding.
The census is being mailed in several phases through December. Farm operations of all sizes which produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural product in 2017 are included in the census. The census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation.
NASS has revised the census forms in an attempt to document changes and emerging trends in the industry. Changes include a new question about military veteran status, expanded questions about food marketing practices, and questions about on-farm decision-making to help better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers, and others involved in running a farm enterprise.
Responding to the Census of Agriculture is required by law under Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113. The same law requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation. NASS will release the results of the census in February 2019.