January is Ag Census Month

farm-droughtGov. Bob McDonnell has declared January 2013 as Virginia Agriculture Census Month. The census takes place every five years; the last national agricultural census was in 2007. January 2013 is the commemorative month for the 2012 Ag Census because 2012 is the production year but reporting occurs in January through February 4.

Federal and state leaders use the information collected through the Census to make policy decisions that have substantial impacts on agriculture. “I believe it is of the utmost importance to all of us in agriculture that those decisions are based on the most accurate and objective information possible,” said Matthew J. Lohr, VDACS Commissioner.

The Census of Agriculture – a complete count of all U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them – is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation. Local and national leaders use information from the Census to make decisions that directly impact the agricultural industry, rural development and other resource-based industries and small businesses. In addition, farmers and ag-related businesses can use the information to make decisions about their own business development opportunities. By responding to the Census, farmers help themselves, their communities and all of U.S. agriculture.

The kind of information available through the Ag Census is not available anywhere else, and this year, it is collecting some new information. The 2012 Census asks for the number of acres under conservation tillage practices, acres planted to cover crops and acres under conservation easements. This information will be critical in documenting the work farmers are doing collectively to be good stewards of the environment.

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