Thanksgiving a Time to Spotlight the Importance of Ag Census

As families around the nation prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday - USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service is noting the role agriculture plays. According to NASS - U.S. farmers will raise 254-million turkeys and harvest 768-million pounds of cranberries and 47-billion pounds of potatoes this year. According to the most recent NASS data - producers also grew 1.1-billion pounds of pumpkins and 1.9-billion pounds of green beans. NASS Census and Survey Division Director Renee Picanso notes the modernization of agriculture has tremendously changed the landscape of farming from the first Thanksgiving feast nearly four centuries ago to now. Picanso says the advancements in agriculture - along with the value farmers and ranchers provide to the U.S. economy and their individual communities - are even more in focus this year because of the upcoming 2012 Census of Agriculture.

The Census is conducted every five years to provide a complete count of all U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income, expenditures and other topics. The information gathered is used by governments, agribusinesses and trade associations. Legislators use the data when shaping farm policy and agribusinesses factor it into their planning efforts. Because the Census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation - Picanso says it's a critical tool that gives farmers a voice to influence decisions that will shape the future of their community, industry and operation. That's why USDA encourages all U.S. farmers to participate.

NASS will mail Census forms in late December to collect data for the 2012 calendar year. Completed forms are due by February 4th.

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