Farmers and ranchers in Idaho still have time to be counted in the 2022 Census of Agriculture, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Although the original deadline for the agricultural census passed on Feb. 6, the statistics service will continue to accept completed census questionnaires throughout spring to ensure that Idaho farmers and ranchers are accounted for in the data.
“I can’t express my gratitude to those who have taken time out of their busy schedules to complete their census form, and also can’t emphasize enough the importance for all Idaho ag producers to take part in representing their industry,” Idaho State Statistician Ben Johnson said in the press release. “The data provided will be a valuable piece of history and will inform decisions that will help shape the future of American agriculture for the next five or six years.”
The statistics service has received over one million completed agricultural census questionnaires nationwide thus far, but only about 50% of Idaho producers have returned theirs, Johnson said.
Johnson told the Idaho Capital Sun that the new deadline is set for May 31.
Why is the Census of Agriculture important to Idaho?
The USDA statistics service is a source of comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation, according to the department website.
The statistics service sends a census questionnaire to every known producer in the country every five years, with the most recent one taking place in 2017, Johnson said.
The agricultural census questionnaire looks at the demographics of farmers and ranchers across Idaho, including questions about farm size, farm type, number of livestock and revenue.
According to the department website, the data is used to improve policy at the local, state and federal level including decisions about jobs, transportation, production practices, technology, marketing opportunities and farming programs.
Johnson said in an email that policies related to farm programs and funding, crop insurance rates, rural development and disaster assistance rely on the census data. Researchers at the University of Idaho Research and Extension also use the data to design projects and write grants to benefit farmers, according to the department website.
The statistics service plans to release the data in early 2024.
Who should take the agricultural census?
The agricultural statistics service defines farms as any place that produced and sold, or normally would have produced and sold at least $1,000 of agricultural products in the census year. This includes ranches with thousands of acres, backyard hobby farms and urban gardens.
The USDA asks that everyone who received an agricultural census form to respond. Even if an individual or business did not farm in 2022, the USDA asks individuals or businesses who received a census form to respond and the USDA will update its records.
Census responses are confidential, and the survey takes between a few minutes to two hours to complete, according to the statistics service website.
The statistics service will continue to follow up with Idaho producers through the spring with mailings, phone calls and personal visits. Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to complete their census online at agcounts.usda.gov or by mail as soon as possible.
To learn more about the 2022 Census of Agriculture, visit the USDA website. Producers and other data users can access frequently asked questions on the website including past agricultural census data and special study information.
For highlights of the census data and the latest information, follow the USDA agricultural statistics service on Twitter.