Questionnaires to be mailed in December
(Las Cruces, New Mexico) – New Mexico farmers and ranchers should be on the lookout for a Census of Agriculture questionnaire in the mail in December. Farmers and ranchers across the country will soon have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities and industry by taking part in the census.
For a simpler, faster and more efficient process, producers are encouraged to complete the online questionnaire at www.agcensus.usda.gov upon receiving their questionnaire. In order to complete the online version, each person will need his or her unique 17-digit code, which may be found on the questionnaire.
Conducted every five years by United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census captures a complete count of all U.S. farms and ranches and those who operate them. Even the smallest plots of land and those raising only a few animals during the census year are counted.
New Mexico State Statistician Longino Bustillos said the census remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation.
“It’s a critical tool that gives farmers a voice to influence decisions that will shape the future of their community, industry and operation,” Bustillos said.
The census highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income, expenditures and other topics. The information gathered by the Census of Agriculture guides Congress, agribusiness, policymakers, researchers, local governments and many others on the creation and funding of agricultural programs and services – decisions that can directly impact local operations and the future of the agriculture industry for years to come.
New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte encourages all New Mexico producers to respond.
“We only have this opportunity every five years, so please complete the census and take pride in what we do in New Mexico,” Witte said. “The results of the census truly show the impact of agriculture in our state.”
This year, NASS will collect new information, including data on active duty and military veteran farmers, as well as expanded questions about food marketing practices.
In 2012, New Mexico reported a total of 24,721 farms and ranches, spanning more than 43 million acres. This showed an 18 percent increase from the previous census in 2007. Although the state’s average age of farmers and ranchers climbed to over 60 (second highest in the country), New Mexico data showed an increase in young farmers and ranchers. This telling information and thousands of additional farm and ranch statistics are only available every five years, as a direct result of responses to the census.
Census of Agriculture responses must be submitted by Feb. 5.
“Your answers to the census impact farm programs and rural services that support your community,” Bustillos said. “So please do your part, and be counted when you receive your form, because there’s strength in numbers that only the census can reveal.”
For more information about the census, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828). The Census of Agriculture is Your Voice, Your Future, Your Opportunity.