To be counted in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ag Census, first-time participants have to sign up by June 30. This year, small farms are receiving extra attention.
Farmers who earn more than $1,000 in revenue a year are required to complete the census, which takes place every five years. First-timers have to sign up by the end of this month to be counted.
USDA State Statistician Greg Matli says he expects more attention to this year’s census because the federal Farm Bill is up for renewal next year.
He says he hopes the uptick in urban farming is reflected in the numbers.
“Those small farms, those urban farms, those specialized farms – those are the types of farms that we’d like to see respond to the census,” Matli says.
Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says the number of those small farms has been growing since the last census in 2012.
“The reason for that is such things as the local foods movement, more organic production, food from farm direct to fork, farm-to-restaurant kind of production,” he says.
Hurt says the census results are important because they’re comprehensive, and can be used for research and agribusiness strategies.
The survey gathers information about the entire agriculture industry, all the way down to the county level.
Matli says in the last census in 2012, questions about on-farm energy – farms that use their own power supply – were added.
“And we’ll see some of those same questions again this time,” he says. “Plus expanded questions in the cover crop arena and conservation area.”
The census will be distributed toward the end of the year.