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Department of Agriculture needs help completing census from locals

The U. S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service is in the middle of conducting the 2007 Census of Agriculture. The Census of Agriculture, taken every five years, is a complete count of the nation's farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It is the most complete agricultural resource available, providing uniform and comprehensive data for every county in the nation.

By participating in the census, farmers can demonstrate the value of U. S. agriculture, which many feel is undervalued and underappreciated. The census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and many other important areas. This is all key information that farmers need as they plan for the future. However, the information published in the census is only as accurate as the responses received from producers.

Local farmers started receiving their survey forms around January 1. Some have contacted me with concerns about the privacy of their information. Participation in the census is required by law, and that same law protects the confidentiality of all responses. Your response provides vital information that impacts decisions about community development, funding availability, farm policy and other key issues. Please complete your survey.

This year will be the first year producers will have the opportunity to fill out the census online. However, in order to complete your form online you will need a code which is on the form you received by mail, so don't throw your paper form away. Please complete your survey.

Web posted on Thursday, January 24, 2008

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