The Ag Census Is Coming


Back during the past holiday season, Aunt Sadie had stopped by the local post office to buy a few stamps for her Christmas cards. She only visits the post office once a year, which is during the holiday time of the year, due to the fact that she no longer has the ability to do a lot of writing.

A nice young man at the counter offered to help her, which Aunt Sadie really appreciated. She told him she needed about 40 stamps.

The young man answered her by asking, “In what denominations do you want those, Miss Sadie?”

Aunt Sadie was totally confused by the young man’s question and said, “My goodness things have changed here since last year. I didn’t know we had gone this far in our government. I guess I need about 20 Baptist and 20 Methodist stamps, if that will work.”

It is really easy to confuse a lot of us with certain terminology, like Aunt Sadie, and just the other night as I opened my mail, I found a very government looking piece that had the look of “confusion” written all over it. It was from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and contained a cellophane window in it with my name on the inside. After hearing all of the news lately about our government, just like Aunt Sadie, I wondered what kind of form waited for me inside. Fearing the worst, I laid it aside and pulled a Scarlet O’Hara from “Gone With The Wind” and said, “I’ll do that tomorrow.”

Tomorrow finally arrived two days later and I opened the envelope to find a set of forms containing questions concerning our farm and just what goes on in a general manner. They were asking me questions about the number of acres, employees, amount of crops sold, income, number of animals and mainly trying to find out if the farm was still being farmed or not. The forms were fact finders for the upcoming 2012 Census of Agriculture, which will be conducted later in 2012 and into 2013.

As I started filling out the forms, I realized I should not have feared the government mailing all that much, because they were not overly terminology written. They were fairly easy to understand and it was simple to check the boxes for your answers. These early forms are important to get back in, because they will help determine who needs to get the Census forms later on. The Census of Agriculture is important to all of us because it is the leading source of facts and figures about American agriculture. It is conducted every five years and provides a detailed picture of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It is the only source we have of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the United States. In fact, you can go on the NASS website and find out a lot of information about your own county as it pertains to agriculture obtained from previous Census reports taken. Just go to and you can look at the nation, your state or your county in some very interesting profiles.

Of course, just anyone can’t be counted in the Census. To be a counted producer you must have estimated or expected annual sales of agricultural products of at least  $1,000 to be considered and counted. To get a close to exact count, the 2012 census will be conducted late in 2012 and into 2013 to reflect 2012 farming activities. If you meet the requirements and may think you have been overlooked for this year’s count, you can go to the above mentioned website and make your voice heard. It is suggested you sign up to be counted by clicking on “I Want To”¦ Make sure I’m counted” on the right hand side.

With only one percent of the population involved in farming, it is important we get everyone counted this year. So, make your voice heard and be counted. Plus, unlike the Post Office, on all those forms they don’t ask anything about denominations.


– Pettus L. Read may be contacted by e-mail at