Farm Progress

USDA ag census forms are due Feb. 5.

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist

January 29, 2018

2 Min Read
BE COUNTED: Farmers and ranchers have until next week to be counted in the Census of Agriculture by either filling out a form online or mailing one in.Darumo/iStock/Thinkstock

Farmers and ranchers have just one week to file their forms for the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture. The deadline for being counted is Feb. 5.

The USDA sent questionnaires to more than 3 million agriculture producers across the country last December. Farm operations of all sizes, which produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural product in 2017 are included in the census.

The Census of Agriculture is USDA’s largest data collection endeavor, providing some of the most widely used statistics in the industry, according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Collected in service to American agriculture since 1840, the census gives every producer the opportunity to be represented, so that informed decisions can support their efforts to provide the world with food, fuel, feed and fiber,” he says. “Every response matters.”

Even if you are no longer farming, Robert Garino, USDA statistician based in Columbia, asks farmers to return the census form. Otherwise, USDA follows up with mailed questionnaires, phone calls or visits from a USDA enumerator.

The census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation.

The USDA conducts the survey every five years. Forms can be returned by mail or securely submitted online at

Helps at home
Ryan Milhollin, a University of Missouri Extension economist, says federal, state and local governments as well as agribusinesses, researchers, trade associations and others use the data to serve farmers and rural communities.

The Census of Agriculture shapes programs, including MU Extension programs that benefit many farm groups. It gives a picture of the economic impact of agriculture in the country.

Milhollin says data help policymakers see emerging trends such as young and beginning farmers and ranchers; women, veteran and minority farmers and ranchers; specialty crops; and organic production. This helps legislators make decisions that protect the future of agriculture, he says.

For more information, call 888-424-7828 or contact Garino at 573-876-0950.


About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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