Time to respond to the 2022 Census of Agriculture is running out, and Virginia farmers are being encouraged to return their questionnaires before the Feb. 6 deadline.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service mailed online access codes for the census to every known American farmer in November, followed by hard copies this month.
The Census of Agriculture provides “the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every state and county in the nation,” said Herman Ellison, NASS state statistician for Virginia.
“Through the ag census, producers can show the nation the value of U.S. agriculture and influence decisions that will shape the future of the industry,” Ellison continued. Data from the census, he said, works for producers by improving decision- and policy making regarding jobs, transportation, production practices, new technologies, marketing opportunities, farm services and programs, and local, state and federal policy.
The census has been conducted every five years for over 180 years. It counts every U.S. farming operation—large or small, urban or rural—from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products are produced and sold during the corresponding census year.
The data from the 2022 Census of Agriculture is expected to be released in the spring or summer of 2024.
Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, noted that the census provides farmers with an opportunity to document who and where they are, and what they produce.
Additionally, the five-year snapshot of American farms gauges performance over time, and the data can be used to compare similar agricultural operations to those in other states.
The data collected from the census provides a clear understanding of agriculture’s economic value in Virginia and the U.S.
“The ag census is very important for farmers in that the data is used to document agriculture’s financial importance to the overall economy, which may affect local and state governments’ stance on farmers and their land,” Banks said. “The information also is particularly helpful to Virginia Farm Bureau and similar organizations who help form federal policy.”
Producers can access 2022 Census of Agriculture forms and instructions online. Questionnaires may be returned by mail or at agcounts.usda.gov.
Producers with questions are encouraged to call the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 888-424-7828.