Last week the National Association of Farm Broadcasters held their annual convention in KC, MO.  Part of the event was an opportunity to visit with industry leaders as well as government officials.  Barbara Rader is the director of the census and survey division at USDA National Agricultural Statistics, and she told KMON about the next survey coming out. AG.  Here is the interview.  The entire  audio version can be heard at the bottom of this article.

Barbara: The Census of Agriculture will be mailing it out on November the 22nd and we hope to collect information from a little over 2 million farmers and ranchers by February 7. And then we will spend the rest of the time tabulating the information and doing our analysis and releasing the results in early 2024.

Randy: So why is it important that farmers respond to the census?

Barbara: The census is conducted every five years and allows us to measure trends and changes the newest agriculture. We collect information, everything from land use to crops and livestock machinery. But really, it's the only source of information that provides data for all commodities at the national, state and county level. So that local level data is critically important to a lot of those that are developing programs or business plans or whatever they're using the information for. We are actually rather jazzed that this is happening. We've spent the last five years since the last census preparing for this. It's a monumental task, but so critically important, not only about what's produced on farms, but about the people that produce, that work hard every day to produce crops and livestock and food and nourish our bodies. So that information will be used by others like USDA, by Congress, by policymakers, all kinds of folks to see to make sure that the policies and programs that serve agriculture are still on point. We did ask new content to the census, this time it's around technology on the farm. So, we've asked questions now on precision agriculture as well as internet use and access to it. So, we're excited to see the results of this census and how it compares to the last. And it is secure, and it is confidential. So, all those millions of forms come in and we summarize them and we put the information out. But we do not divulge individual reports of anybody in any way or any sort.

Randy: Can they do it online or is it only a paper copy?

Barbara:  In fact, on November 22, what farmers will receive is an invitation to complete their census online. We've spent a lot of time and good time making sure that the web form is easy, it's secure, and it really saves the producer time so that they can get it done and into us. And then they'll get a paper questionnaire in late December to complete on paper it is required.

Randy: What happens if somebody doesn't get it or doesn't turn it in or gets lost in the mail?

Barbara: We will have plenty of opportunity to follow up with more questionnaires and more letters and encourage them to read it.

Randy: Anything I didn't ask that you want to throw in there?

Barbara: If I had to say anything is that we need everyone to respond. Because if you don't respond and we don't know you're there and if you don't know you're there then when others start to shape policies and programs to serve US farmers and you can’t be considered if you're not heard.

Randy: Let your voice be heard.

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