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2017 Census of Agriculture is underway

RALEIGH — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service began mailing the 2017 Census of Agriculture to producers this week, including more than 48,000 farmers in North Carolina.

Conducted once every five years, the census aims to get an accurate picture of American agriculture. The data is used by farmers, trade associations, researchers, policymakers, and others to help make decisions in community planning, farm assistance programs, technology development, farm advocacy, agribusiness setup, rural development, and more.

“Agriculture remains North Carolina’s No. 1 industry, bringing in more than $84 billion annually,” said Dee Webb, North Carolina state statistician. “We are proud to rank top in the nation in sweet potato and tobacco production and poultry and egg cash receipts.”

The census form will be mailed in several phases through December. Farm operations of all sizes that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural product in 2017 are included in the census.

“The Census of Agriculture is USDA’s largest data collection endeavor, providing some of the most widely used statistics in the industry,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Collected in service to American agriculture since 1840, the census gives every producer the opportunity to be represented, so that informed decisions can support their efforts to provide the world with food, fuel, feed and fiber. Every response matters.”

Webb said the 2012 Census of Agriculture pointed to the need for a new, modernized agricultural lab facility, which is currently under construction.

“This lab will directly impact North Carolina farmers, and it shows how important it is for every farmer to respond to the census,” she said. “We encourage you to respond early before the rush of the holidays.”

The statistics service 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.

“There is an updated online questionnaire available which has several time-saving features for our farmers,” said Webb, “We highly encourage farmers to take advantage of this tool which is available on any mobile or desktop device, will perform calculations and skip sections that do not pertain to your operation.”

The census response deadline is Feb. 5.

Responding to the Census of Agriculture is required by law. The information collected is kept confidential and is used only for statistical purposes.

The results of the census will be released in February 2019.

For more information, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov.

For information about North Carolina statistical reports, visit https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/North_Carolina/ or call the North Carolina Field Office at 919-856-4394.

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