If you’ve been in Sampson County even for a short time, it’s obvious that agriculture is the heart of this county! Not only are we the number one ag county in North Carolina, but Sampson is ranked #12 in the nation for agriculture. How could I know that? The Ag Census plays a huge part in knowing how we compare to other counties across our state and nation.
Why is that important? There are many reasons to consider. The census provides much needed information and input for ag planning and decision making by the US Department of Agriculture, in regard to: ag research, conservation programs, new technologies, rural economic development, production practices, telecommunications expansion, transportation and marketing, military veteran farmer programs, and the Farm Bill. The census also gives farmers a voice, telling their story of how they provide food, fuel, fiber, and feed to the world.
According to the USDA, “The census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every state, county, or county equivalent in the nation. By participating in the census, you help show the value and importance of U.S. Agriculture.”
It’s sometimes hard to imagine that commodities grown right here in Sampson County might end up on a table across the country, or in other countries. Of course we need to have a voice in decisions that our leaders make about agriculture! So, how can you be a part of making a difference and sharing that voice? Participate in the census, every five years.
Here are some of the FAQs about the Ag Census:
1. What is considered a farm to the census? A farm is any location that produced and sold, or normally would sell, $1000 or more of ag products during the census year.
2. Will the information collected be kept confidential? Yes. Results are tallied and available in aggregate form only. No individual operation can be identified in census data collected.
3. How often is the census done? Every five years there is an Ag Census taken. It is a comprehensive count of all US farms and ranches, and all commodities are included.
4. Do I have to respond to the census? If you receive a Census of Ag form in the mail, response is required by law.
5. When will the Census happen? Forms will be mailed in December 2017, and must be completed by the form or online by February 2018. In February 2019, census data will be released by the National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS).
6. Can I respond to the census online? Yes! Visit the following link for online responses to the Census: www.agcounts.usda.gov.
7. Where can I go for general info and questions about the census? Questions can be asked by calling 888-424-7828, or by visiting www.agcensus.usda.gov. More information can be collected at the NC Cooperative Extension – Sampson County Center, located at 55 Agriculture Place, Clinton. The county extension center has informational brochures and postage paid registration forms to receive a Census of Agriculture report form.
Eileen Coite is the director of the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center.