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David Sparks Ph.d Census of Agriculture
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: April 10, 2018

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Idaho farmers and ranchers lead the nation when it comes to the percentage of producers who have responded to those surveys online.

The census, taken every five years, is a complete count of every farm and ranch in the nation that produces or normally would produce at least $1,000 worth of agricultural products during the census year.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service began collecting data for the census last year.

As of March 30, Idaho ranks third in the nation when it comes to the percentage of producers in the state who have returned the surveys, with a 60.39 percent response rate, behind only Iowa and Illinois, Chris Mertz, director of NASS’ Northwest regional field office, told Idaho Farm Bureau Federation March 30. 

The U.S. average response rate is 52.52 percent.

Mertz said it’s important to respond to the census because a lot of state and federal funds are allocated to the agricultural industry based on the data provided by the census, and that data is also used to help shape farm programs and policies.

He said he was pleased but not surprised by Idaho’s high response rate. 

“Those involved with agriculture in Idaho understand how important agriculture is to the state and local communities,” Mertz said. “By returning their census questionnaires at the current levels, they are ensuring their industry will be adequately counted and represented when data are being used to promote and defend Idaho agriculture. Better data leads to better decisions.”

When it comes to using the internet to respond to the surveys, Idaho leads the nation at 21.45 percent. The U.S. average is 12.83 percent. 

Mertz said there is still time to get the questionnaires returned and NASS will be contacting producers about the census in June.  

The census contains a wide variety of farm production and demographic characteristics for every county in the nation. USDA began collecting data for the new census in 2017 and will analyze and compile the data in 2018 and release it in February 2019.

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