A federal survey is getting under way to measure the nation’s farming acreage, government subsidies and leading crops.
The deadline for farmers across the country to sign up to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture is July 1.
The USDA is preparing to mail the 2012 Census to millions of U.S. farmers and ranchers in late December. Anyone who receives a form in the mail is required by law to participate, even if the recipient did not operate a farm or ranch in 2012.
The ag Census, which takes place every five years, is a complete count of the nation’s farms and ranches and the hands that keep them in operation.
Federal and state agricultural leaders are reminding producers, through a public service announcement campaign, not to miss their opportunity to be counted, according to a USDA statement.
“Local and national leaders use the Census to make decisions that directly impact your business, your community and your industry,” according to the federal agency.
“Whether you’re farming four thousand acres or just four, it’s important. Every voice counts.”
On Wednesday, an agency employee listed as a media contact for the S.C. Department of Agriculture, said she had never heard of the ag Census.
Nevertheless, both Georgia and South Carolina are major player in the nation’s agriculture sector.
In 2007, Georgia ranked first in the nation for poultry and eggs, while South Carolina ranked eighth.
Nearly 60 percent of Georgia’s $7.1 billion in sales were tied to poultry and egg production. In South Carolina, poultry and eggs also topped the list of agricultural products, making up nearly 55 percent of the state’s approximately $2.3 billion in agricultural products sales, according to the 2007 Ag Census.
In the 2007 Census Georgia’s number of farms had dropped 3 percent to 47,846, while South Carolina’s number of farms increased 5 percent to 25,867 farms.
From 2002 to 2007, the suvey showed that the size of the average South Carolina farm shrunk from 197 acres down to 189 acres. During that same time, the amount of government funding a farm received grew from $6,280 average per-farm to $8,717 in 2007.
Georgia followed a similar trend.
The average Peach State farm shrunk from 218 acres in 2002 to 212 acres in 2007. The average per-farm government funding for farms that received payments jumped more dramatically in Georgia than in South Carolina, however. In 2002, the figure was $7,642. Five years later, the figure had doubled.
The USDA lists several reasons it’s in farmers’ own interest to participate in the national count, among them:
- They can use the data to make good decisions about the future of their own operations.
- Companies and cooperatives use the information to determine the locations of facilities that will serve agricultural producers.
- Community planners rely on the ag Census to target services to rural residents.
- Legislators use the numbers from the Census when shaping farm policies and programs.
For more information:
Ga. Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black’s video message on the census: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCfmNo9ea_g
South Carolina’s 2007 ag Census: http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/Full_Report/Census_by_State/South_Carolina/index.asp