LANSING — The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) this month initiated the 2022 agricultural census for Michigan’s 46,000 producers, as well as the approximately three million U.S. producers. The USDA will be mailing survey access codes to producers across the country in late November. These survey codes can be used to access the Agricultural Census survey online
“The Agricultural Census is the only complete census of farms and the people who work them. Even small lots — whether rural or urban — that grow fruit, vegetables or livestock count if $1,000 or more is raised and sold,” he said Gary McDowell, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “The Ag Census helps provide important information about what is happening in the United States and gives us a clearer picture of how we can help support the farmers and ranchers who feed us and our families every day .”
Many farmers and producers are unaware of how responding or not responding to NASS surveys and questionnaires directly impacts them, their communities, or their industry. Even if growers don’t use the results themselves or use USDA or other agricultural programs and services that rely on the data, rural development affects everyone. The data collected from the survey impacts how resources are used on things like roads, internet access, veteran health clinics, building agribusinesses, disaster relief and more.
“The agricultural census is only conducted every five years. It looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, land still in agricultural use, production practices, revenue and expenditure. For US farmers and ranchers, the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future and their opportunity,” he said Marlo D. Johnson, USDA Regional Director, NASS, Great Lakes Regional Office. “The data helps inform policymakers about investment needs such as high-speed internet rollout, infrastructure needs, healthcare and other USDA programs.”
In addition to policy use, the data also justifies research and development of new technologies. Census data is also used to determine where in schools agriculture classes should be held and simply to promote the importance of agriculture to non-agricultural neighbors.
When farmers receive the census forms, they can either complete the questionnaire online through an improved, user-friendly system (automatically calculates totals and skip questions not related to this process), or they can still complete the questionnaire and send it by mail.
For more information on the 2022 Agricultural Census, visit the website at https://www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus/.