National Agricultural Statistics Service, Kentucky Office
Kentucky farm operators along with farm operators across America are about to participate in the nation's largest, most detailed statistical portrait of U.S. agriculture--the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The census will provide a comprehensive picture of agriculture at the county, state and national levels. America's farmers have the opportunity to make their voices heard and help shape the future of agriculture for years to come. The Kentucky Field Office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in Louisville will coordinate agricultural census activities for the Commonwealth.
"Many changes have occurred throughout Kentucky agriculture in the five years since the last Census of Agriculture was taken," says Leland Brown, Director of NASS' Kentucky Field Office. The need for reliable statistics about Kentucky's farmers has never been greater. Conducting the agricultural census is the only way to get information to measure how successful many of the state initiatives and marketing assistance programs have been. The success of these new programs and how fast and how much they have grown will be shown by what producers report on the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
According to Brown, the Agricultural Census shows a geographic picture of American and Kentucky agriculture: the changing crop and livestock patterns in agriculture, economic conditions and operating costs of farm operators, and the sources of marketing and income. The Census of Agriculture provides information that is not available anywhere else – information that benefits agricultural producers and their communities.
Another important piece of information compiled and published from the 2012 Census of Agriculture will be the count of farms by different categories: size, type, operator characteristics, and value of sales. This count is made for each county in Kentucky. Many of the extension programs administered in Kentucky receive funds for these projects based on the census farm counts by county.
NASS will mail out Census forms in late December, to collect data for the 2012 calendar year. Completed forms are due by February 4, 2013. Producers can fill out the Census online via a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov, or return their form by mail. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information.
Agriculture census data serve as a foundation for agricultural statistics. They are widely used by farm organizations, legislators, and those who provide goods and services to farmers and ranchers.
The census report form is detailed, but all information on individual farm operations is kept confidential by law (Title 7, U.S. Code). Statistical results are aggregated and published only in geographical summaries to prevent identification of individual farms.
A farm, for census purposes, is any place from which at least $1,000 worth of agricultural products were produced and sold or could have been sold during the census year. Because a key strength of the census is providing detailed facts about small farms, every response counts--whether from a large or very small operation.
Completing the 2012 Census of Agriculture report form may be the best few minutes Kentucky farmers can invest in the future of the Commonwealth's agriculture. By responding completely and accurately, Kentucky farmers can make the 2012 Census of Agriculture an effective tool to help chart the future of the Commonwealth's top industry.
"We're committed to making this Census the best count ever. It's about the future of agriculture and rural communities in Kentucky," Brown said. "Regardless of how large or small their operation is or what kinds of products they produce, Kentucky farmers will help themselves and their communities by filling out the Census of Agriculture and returning it promptly," he added.
"We want farmers to know: the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future and their responsibility."
For more information about the 2012 Census of Agriculture, contact the NASS Kentucky Field Office at (800) 928-5277 or visit www.agcensus.usda.gov.