The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts its Census of Agriculture every five years, and farmers have just a few weeks remaining to return their 2017 forms.
Iowa’s deputy secretary of agriculture, Mike Naig, says business, universities, and local and national farm groups use Census of Agriculture data to inform funding and program decisions because the survey gets robust and unbiased results. But only when everyone eligible takes it seriously.
“The more information that we can provide the USDA the better their dataset will be,” Naig says. “The fewer people who respond, the more assumptions the USDA has to make.”
Naig says some of the topics he's curious about include changes in land use, the age of Iowa’s farmers, and how many women and veterans are farming.
“We are very interested in seeing any trends that are developing or continuing in terms of land use, no-till, conservation practices, cover crops,” he says. “Those types of things that emerge from that dataset are very interesting to us.”
He adds the Census of Ag also provides a picture of rural communities. Paper or electronic responses are required by law and due February 5.
Once the data is processed, it is available for public use through USDA’s Quick Stats page.