Farmers and ranchers will soon find the 2012 Census of Agriculture in their mailboxes.
The Census provides detailed data about land use and ownership, production practices, expenditures and other factors that affect the way farmers do business.
"The 2012 Census of Agriculture provides farmers with a powerful voice. The information gathered through the Census influences policy decisions that can have a tremendous impact on farmers and their communities for years to come," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "I strongly encourage all farmers, no matter how large or small their operation, to promptly complete and return their Census, so they can voice to the nation the value and importance of agriculture."
Vilsack added that in addition to affecting policy decisions, Census information also influences community growth and development. Many companies review Census data when determining where to establish or expand their businesses, as well as where they can go for supplies of locally-produced food and agricultural products, which further emphasizes the importance of supplying accurate information. Information from the Census also is valuable to explain the many ways farming is important to urban or non-farming residents and decision-makers.
All farmers and ranchers should receive a Census form in the mail by early January. Completed forms are due by February 4, 2013.
Farmers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting USDA's website.
The Census is conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.