The U.S. Agriculture Department is asking farmers to complete and return their 2012 Census of Agriculture form.
Conducted once every five years by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the census is more than a count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It is a look at land use and ownership, production practices, expenditures and other factors that affect the way farmers do business.
"The results of the census are used by companies, cooperatives, planners and lawmakers who serve New York farmers and communities - including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations and many others," said King Whetstone, NASS New York Field Office director. "Farmers and ranchers also use census data to help make informed decisions about the future of their own operations."
Taking part in the census is important to New York producers and communities because it provides a snapshot of the agriculture industry in every county of the state. The local information can affect policy decisions as well as influence community growth and development.
"The census provides producers an opportunity to help shape farm programs, boost rural services and grow your farm future," Whetstone said. "Many companies review census data when determining where to establish or expand their businesses, and even when looking for where they can go for supplies of locally-produced food and agricultural products - all examples that emphasize the importance of responding and supplying accurate census information."
All New York farmers and ranchers should receive a census form in the mail by late December. Completed forms are due by Feb. 4. Farmers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.
For more information about the census, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 888-424-7828.