(photo credit: Jean English)
NASS to follow-up with producers who have not yet responded
Maine Farmers still have time to be counted in the 2017 Census of Agriculture, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Although the first deadline has just passed, NASS will continue to accept Census information through the spring to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture that represents all farmers and ranchers.
“We thank everyone who has completed their Census to date. We currently have a return rate of just over 40 percent of the Maine Census questionnaires mailed last fall,” said NASS New England State Statistician Gary Keough. “A lot is at stake if producers are not represented in this data. Census data have and will continue to influence important decisions for American agriculture. The data will affect every operation and every farming community at some point, whether it be through farm policy, disaster relief, insurance or loan programs, infrastructure improvements, or agribusiness setup. There is accuracy and strength in numbers, which is why NASS is committed to giving producers every opportunity to respond.”
A couple of USDA programs that rely on Census of Agriculture data and are important to many Maine farmers are the Specialty Crop Block grants and Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program funding. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) annually allocates funds for these two programs which is distributed to each State. Census of Agriculture data is used in determining State allocations. Since the New England States have a significant number of farms that produce specialty crops and/or sell locally, it’s important for these farmers to report so that the New England States receive their fair share of the national allocation.
Federal law mandates that everyone who received the 2017 Census of Agriculture questionnaire complete it and return it even if not currently farming. NASS will continue to follow-up with producers through the spring with mailings, phone calls, and personal visits. To avoid these additional contacts, farmers and ranchers are encouraged to complete their Census either online at www.agcounts.usda.gov or by mail as soon as possible. Responding online saves time by skipping sections that do not apply and automatically calculating totals. The online questionnaire is accessible on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.
For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov. For questions or assistance filling out the Census, call toll-free (888) 424-7828.