As our nation’s farm families gather this Thanksgiving to count their many blessings and reflect on this year’s harvest, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service  (NASS) urges producers to ensure their farm or ranch is also counted in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The Census is a crucial tool that provides farmers with a voice in the future of their community and operation.
Thanksgiving reminds us how easy it can be to take for granted having a safe and bountiful food supply just when farmers are doing such a great job ensuring our nation has the nutrition and resources it needs to live well. But to ensure farmers can continue feeding and clothing a growing world, we need to provide them with the programs, services, and tools they need. To do this, we urge them to speak out and take this opportunity to be counted in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
Conducted every five years by NASS, the Census is a complete count of the U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and other topics. It provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation.
Results of the Census are used to serve farmers and their communities today, and help benefit the future generations of farmers tomorrow. Legislators at various levels of government use the data when shaping farm policy, and agribusinesses factor it into their planning efforts.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to remind farmers how important they are and how much the nation appreciates their hard work. It’s also a good time to remind them that they have a voice and a responsibility to use that voice to make a better future. Tools like the Census enable farmers to help shape the future of agriculture and their own local communities.
Census forms will be mailed out in late December and responses are due by February 4, 2013. Producers have the option to complete their forms online  or by mail. After all, the Census is your voice, your future and your responsibility. For more information about the Census, visitwww.agcensus.usda.gov  or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828).