AmericanFarm.com

Make sure you are counted (Editorial)

(April 15, 2017) The 2017 Census of Agriculture has been mailed, and that is worthy of applause — as well as a sigh of relief.
Searching for county or state or national ag statistics, one is reminded that the ag census is performed every five years and therefore, every number is five years old, which is ancient history in the runaway development of agriculture.
Bothersome, too, is the Census Bureau’s definition of a farm. It is not what one would envision. Defined as rural or urban, even small plots of land are included in the census if $1,000 or more fruit, vegetables, or animals were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold there, in the course of a year.  
New or beginning farms, which would not be on the census list, need to sign up by June. Go to www.agcensus.usda.gov and click “Make Sure You Are Counted.”
The five-year census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation.
It’s how the voice of farmers and ranchers shapes policies, services, and assistance programs for years to come.
And it’s used to make informed decisions by farmers themselves and their allies.
For even more information, visit https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Help/FAQs/2017/
Obviously, we encourage farmers to get on the census train.
As “the voice of the farmer” in these parts, The New Jersey Farmer often turns to census figures in the course of our weekly report to you.
We will be a great deal more comfortable when we know that the figures we are looking at are not five years old.