This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA's rich science and research portfolio.
Earlier this month, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), released the latest count of farms in the United States. The nation has nearly 2.2 million farms, a number that has held pretty steady for the past decade. While this number is important, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Having worked with farmers in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee, I can honestly tell you that agriculture is undergoing major changes. Not only are farmers and ranchers introducing new practices such as organic farming, precision agriculture or renewable energy production, they are as a group increasingly diverse.
This is why, in addition to updating farm numbers annually, NASS also conducts a Census of Agriculture every five years. The Census gives farmers and ranchers of all gender, racial and ethnic groups a chance to have their voices heard. And the Census doesn’t just collect demographic information. It produces information on land use and ownership, production practices, income and expenditures, and many other important topics at national, state, county and even zip code levels.
While the next Census of Agriculture won’t begin until late December, NASS is already hard at work preparing for it. We have mailed out 1.8 million surveys asking recipients to tell us if they are farming or not so that the Census of Agriculture mailing list is as accurate as possible. You can find more information about the Census and make sure you are counted by clicking here.
I urge all farmers who have not yet participated in the Census to sign up so you can be counted. After all, the Census is your voice, your future and your responsibility.