The Census of Agriculture will be mailed out this month and while some may look at the every-five-year survey as a hassle, it’s important that you take the time to be counted accurately. The resulting data are used by farmers, ranchers, trade associations, researchers, policymakers, and many others to help make decisions in community planning, farm assistance programs, technology development, farm advocacy, agribusiness setup, rural development, and more.

From an industry standpoint, the Census of Agriculture is the basis of economic research that shows that the N.C. swine industry is an important economic driver, creating $3 billion in annual income, $8 billion in annual sales and supporting 46,000 full-time jobs.

“Every response matters”
~Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

NASS revised the census forms in an attempt to document changes and emerging trends in the industry. Changes include a new question about military veteran status, expanded questions about food marketing practices, and questions about on-farm decision-making to help better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers, and others involved in running a farm enterprise.

“Producers can respond to the census online or by mail. We highly recommend the updated online questionnaire. We heard what people wanted and we made responding to the census easier than ever,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “The online questionnaire now has timesaving features, such as automatic calculations, and the convenience of being accessible on mobile and desktop devices.”

The census response deadline is February 5, 2018. Responding to the Census of Agriculture is required by law under Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113. The same law requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation. NASS will release the results of the census in February 2019.

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit or call (800) 727-9540.

About the 2017 Census of Agriculture

  1. What is the Census of Agriculture? The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even the small plots of land – whether rural or urban – growing fruit, vegetables or some food animals count if $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year.The Census of Agriculture, taken only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. For America’s farmers and ranchers, the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity.
  2. Why is the Census of Agriculture important? The Census of Agriculture provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation. Through the Census of Agriculture, producers can show the nation the value and importance of agriculture, and they can help influence the decisions that will shape the future of American agriculture for years to come. By responding to the Census of Agriculture, producers are helping themselves, their communities, and all of U.S. agriculture.
  3. Who uses Census of Agriculture data? Census of Agriculture data are used by all those who serve farmers and rural communities — federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations and many others.
    • Farmers and ranchers can use Census of Agriculture data to help make informed decisions about the future of their own operations.
    • Companies and cooperatives use the facts and figures to determine the locations of facilities that will serve agricultural producers.
    • Community planners use the information to target needed services to rural residents.
    • Legislators use the numbers from the Census when shaping farm policies and programs.
  4. How is the Census of Agriculture conducted? The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will mail questionnaires for the 2017 Census of Agriculture to farm and ranch operators in December 2017 to collect data for the 2017 calendar year. Completed forms are due by February 5, 2018. Respondents can complete the Census online at or return their forms by mail.
  5. Must I respond to the Census of Agriculture? Yes. United States law (Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113), requires all those who receive a Census of Agriculture report form to respond even if they did not operate a farm or ranch in 2017.
  6. What if I only have a small operation or do not participate in government farm programs, do I have to fill out a Census of Agriculture form? The Census of Agriculture is the responsibility of every individual who produces or grows any agricultural product, including field crops, fruits, vegetables, floriculture, and livestock, regardless of the size or type of operation. For Census of Agriculture purposes, a farm is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year.
  7. What if I did not receive or I lost my Census of Agriculture form? If you need more information, or need help completing your Census of Agriculture form, call toll-free (888) 424-7828 or visit
  8. When will 2017 Census of Agriculture results be announced? NASS plans to release Census of Agriculture data, in both electronic and print formats, beginning in February 2019. Detailed reports will be published for all counties, states and the nation.
  9. Where can I find Census of Agriculture data? Census of Agriculture data is available through the local NASS field office in your area and at many depository libraries, universities and other state government offices. It is also available online at or For additional information on the Census of Agriculture and other NASS surveys, call the Agricultural Statistics Hotline at (800) 727-9540.