Agriculture & Natural Resources
Ag Census Helps Us All
Since all the way back to 1840, we have been recording what we have produced in Woodford County. In a time where 78% of the ENTIRE population was working in agriculture, we produced a wide array of products. With three times as many hogs in the county as horses, Woodford County boasted one of the largest hemp crops in the state of Kentucky. All of this would not have been known without the USDA’s Census of Agriculture.
Conducted every five years, the census takes a snapshot of what American agriculture looks like. It tries to capture ALL phases of agriculture. From the vast acres of corn all the way to the small vegetable grower. Not only does the census look at what we are growing, it also looks at farm profitability, demographics, land values, and many more factors. This data is the most robust that we have to measure many areas of agriculture, and in some cases, the only data we have for particular areas of agriculture.
The census is mailed to approximately three million recipients nationwide whom USDA believes to either be an agricultural operator or directly related to agricultural production. The first mailing for the 2017 Census of Agriculture went out last week and many may have already received it. Many wonder if they are classified as a farm, and USDA defines a farm as “any place that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the year.” So whether there is five acres or 500 acres, it would not be classified as a farm unless it has produced and sold $1,000 or more of ag products throughout the year.
It is highly encouraged for everyone to complete the census as it helps to determine the types of services/funding certain areas receive. Not only is it important to many groups that use it, a response is also required by law. Many agencies (including the Extension Service) utilize this information to see what programs, funding, or needs are available in certain counties or regions. Results from the census will play a role in decisions on agricultural research, beginning farmer programs, conservation programs, economic development, transportation, marketing locations, and many more issues.
For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, or assistance in filling out the census, feel free to contact me at the Woodford County Extension Service. The census can be completed online at www.agcounts.usda.gov, or complete the paper form received in the mail and return it in the provided envelope.