Oklahoma producers large and small, rural and urban, are encouraged to participate in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The deadline for turning in the census questionnaire is Feb. 5.
“Every producer should have it in their hands now,” said Troy Marshall, state statistician for Oklahoma, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Census participants may complete the questionnaire and return it by mail or take advantage of the updated online response form, which is mobile friendly so it can be accessed on phones, tablets and other devices.
“The web form will walk them through the questionnaire. It’ll tabulate and sum things for them,” Marshall said. “The best part is it will skip through the questionnaire as needed. So, if for example, you don’t have a commodity, it’ll skip that section and go to the next.”
Any producer who has a question about the form or who did not receive a questionnaire should contact the Census of Agriculture helpline at 888-424-7828.
“We try to accommodate the producer in any way we possibly can,” Marshall said. “Their data is that important.”
One of the most frequently asked questions census data collectors field from producers is how to determine if they are eligible to participate in the census.
By NASS and USDA standards, a producer is anyone who produces and sells $1,000 worth of agricultural goods and has the potential to produce or sell that amount within the census year, which, in this case, is 2017.
So, a producer who retired from row cropping, but continues to run cattle is eligible to participate in the census.
Likewise, urban producers who, for instance, raise chickens and sell the eggs and meat, also should participate.
The Census of Agriculture is done every 5 years. The data is tabulated, aggregated and eventually published down to the county level. In fact, counties across the nation can be compared side by side.
Marshall said it is important for producers to participate in the census because it is used for a wide range of purposes, including developing legislation such as the Farm Bill and programs targeting producers.
“Whether you’re big or small, it doesn’t really matter. The importance is that you get the form in and you’re counted. If you’re not represented in those numbers, how can decision makers and legislators make good, sound decisions,” he said. “If we know exactly how many producers are doing a certain practice, decision makers can calculate to ensure what they’re going to give through these programs is sustainable for the farmer.”
Data from the 2017 edition of the census will be available in February 2019.