Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska will soon have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities by participating in the 2012 Census of Agriculture, says Dean Groskurth, director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska field office.
Conducted every five years by NASS, the Census is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them.
"The Census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation," says Groskurth. "It's a critical tool that gives farmers a voice to influence decisions shaping the future of their community, industry and operation."
The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income, expenditures, and other topics. The information is used by federal, state and local governments, plus agribusinesses and trade associations, which serve farmers and rural communities. "Your answers to the Census affect farm programs and rural services that support your community," Groskurth says. "So do your part and be counted when you receive your form, because there's strength in numbers that only the Census can reveal."
In 2007, Nebraska farmers and ranchers reported more than 47,000 farms covering 45.5 million acres. This was a 3% decrease in the number of Nebraska farms from the previous Census in 2002. Nebraska had 3,369 operators of farms with less than five years of operating experience in 2007, 3% less than 2002, according to Groskurth.
The 2007 Census of Agriculture revealed that only 3,353 operators were under the age of 35, an 11% drop since 2002. While beginning farmers are often faced with hurdles such as acquisition of land, farmers nearing retirement are challenged by the transition of land to future generations.
In 2007, there were 13,062 operators in Nebraska aged 65 and over, 8% more than in 2002.
This information and thousands of statistics are only available every five years as a direct result of producer responses to the Census.
NASS will mail out Census forms in late December to collect data for the 2012 calendar year. Completed forms are due by Feb. 4, 2013. Producers may use a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov, to complete the Census, or return their forms by mail. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.
For more information, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov.
You can get agricultural statistics for the country, Nebraska and your county at www.nass.usda.gov/.