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Ag Census Critical to Wisconsin's Future

Information from the agriculture census is used by rural communities in Wisconsin for infrastructure spending, road planning, even hospital siting. The census is taken every five years. (UW Extension)
Information from the agriculture census is used by rural communities in Wisconsin for infrastructure spending, road planning, even hospital siting. The census is taken every five years. (UW Extension)
December 28, 2017

MADISON, Wis. – Every five years, a complete count of America's farms and ranches is taken, and the new questionnaire is in the mail this month.

Data regarding land use and ownership, production practices and more is collected by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The Census of Agriculture is the only accurate source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial data, according to Wisconsin State Statistician Greg Bussler. He says it's very important for farmers and ranchers in Wisconsin to fill out the form and get the information in.

"Because it gives farmers an opportunity to get their voice out and tell the importance of what agriculture is,” he explains. “It's essential for providing food and fuel and fiber to the world."

Bussler says the more farmers who take time to complete the census, the more accurate the information will be for decision makers who rely on the data.

This year, in addition to receiving the form in the mail, farmers can also access the census online at www.agcensus.usda.gov.

According to Bussler, the census is an opportunity to illustrate the huge impact of agriculture on Wisconsin and the nation. The information is used by a number of organizations.

"To look at how Congress and universities are going to fund research programs,” he states. “Look at possible new conservation programs. Companies look at it to determine where they're going to invest their money as far as new locations for distributors and manufacturing, that type of thing."

Five years ago, when the last agriculture census was taken, about 84 percent of Wisconsin farmers participated.

Bussler is hoping to exceed that figure this time, saying the information will also have an impact locally.

"It's also used by rural communities for infrastructure spending and as far as roads and hospitals and that type of thing,” he points out. “It's also used by Congress for updating the farm bill and determining what things are important for farmers."

The deadline to complete the agriculture census is Feb. 5.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI