For Immediate Release: January 29, 2016

Contact: Eboni Thomas

Next U.S. Agriculture Census will take place in 2017
We Encourage All Farmers to Fill out the Agriculture Census Forms
In December of 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be sending out the census forms for farmers for the 2017 census. The census, in fact, takes place every 5 years. The importance of the census cannot be underestimated for any numbers of reasons but perhaps one of the most important reasons has to do with the U.S. Congress. It is generally from the Agriculture Census information that Congressional committees will make a determination regarding funding for the states that includes the vast array of programs essential to farmers. We at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund ask that all farmers in our network – Black, Latino, white, Asian, and women farmers, etc  – fill out and submit the agriculture census forms they will receive next year. We also ask that farmers throughout our cooperative network fill out the forms and encourage their farmer neighbors and/or cooperative farmer members to do so as well.

What is a farm you might ask? The census definition of a farm is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year. 

The NASS offices are also seeking additional names of farmers to be sent to NASS for distribution of the Census Forms. We have witnessed an increase in the number of Black farmers in the past few years but it is important to know that this is largely a reflection of the number of farmers filling out the forms and not necessarily that actual numbers of Black farmers in the country. This is why it is so important to fill out the census forms so that there can be far more realistic statistics about Black farmers.

There are also some issues that farmers need to be made aware of regarding the census. First, it is the USDA’s  National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) that conducts the agriculture census. Farmers need to be aware of the fact that the staff of NASS have to sign a confidentiality form. In fact, given this, if any of the NASS staff reveal information about individual farmers to other sources, they are vulnerable to fines and/or a prison sentence. Click  here for information about the Confidentiality Pledge. Below is the first paragraph from this document regarding the pledge and this statement is directed to farmers:

Consistent with Title V of the E-Government Act, Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (CIPSEA), we pledge
The information you provide will be used for statistical purposes only. In accordance with the Confidential Information Provisions of Title V, Subtitle A, Public Law 107-347 and other applicable Federal laws, your responses will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed in identifiable form to anyone other than employees or agents. By law, every National Agricultural Statistics Service employee as well as every agent has taken an oath and is subject to a jail term of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both if he or she willfully discloses ANY identifiable information about you.

Here is also a more detailed list of uses of the agriculture census that was copied from the NASS website:

The census of agriculture provides a detailed picture of U.S. farms and ranches every five years. It is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every State and county or county equivalent. Census of agriculture data are routinely used by farm organizations, businesses, State departments of agriculture, elected representatives and legislative bodies at all levels of government, public and private sector analysts, the news media, and colleges and universities. The data are frequently used to: 
  • Show the importance and value of agriculture at the county, state, and national levels; 
  • Provide agricultural news media and agricultural associations’ benchmark statistics for stories and articles on U.S. agriculture and the foods we produce; 
  • Compare the income and costs of production; 
  • Provide important data about the demographics and financial well being of producers; 
  • Evaluate historical agricultural trends to formulate farm and rural policies and develop programs that help agricultural producers; 
  • Allocate local and national funds for farm programs, e.g. extension service projects, agricultural research, soil conservation programs, and land-grant colleges and universities; 
  • Identify the assets needed to support agricultural production such as land, buildings, machinery, and other equipment; 
  • Create an extensive database of information on uncommon crops and livestock and the value of those commodities for assessing the need to develop policies and programs to support those commodities; 
  • Provide geographic data on production so agribusinesses will locate near major production areas for efficiencies for both producers and agribusinesses; 
  • Measure the usage of modern technologies such as conservation practices, organic production, renewable energy systems, internet access, and specialized marketing strategies; 
  • Develop new and improved methods to increase agricultural production and profitability; 
  • Plan for operations during drought and emergency outbreaks of diseases or infestations of pests.

We also want to make sure that farmers and farm advocates have the contact information for NASS offices throughout the South. These offices can be contacted with questions and additional information you might need regarding the census. The officers and directors in our southern region are as follows:

James Ewing, Regional Director
Kathy Broussard, Deputy Regional Director
Jacqueline Moore, Deputy Regional Director
355 East Hancock Avenue,
Suite 100
Athens, GA 30601
James Ewing –
Delta Region

– serving Arkansas


, and Mississippi

Becky Cross, Regional Director
Jill Bishop, Deputy Regional Director Eugene Young, Deputy Regional Director
10800 Financial Centre Parkway
Suite 110
Little Rock, AR 72211
Dave Knopf, Regional Director
Barry Adams, Deputy Regional Director
Scott Lemmons, Deputy Regional Director
P.O. Box 1120
Louisville, Ky 40201
Phone: 1-800-928-5277    FAX: 855-270-2708
Doug Rundle, Regional Director
Quentin Hart, Deputy Regional Director Joel Moore, Deputy Regional Director
300 East 8th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
PO Box 70
Austin, Texas 78767-0070
Phone: (512) 916-5581     FAX: 855-270-2725


Note: The Federation/LAF, now in its 49th year, assists Black family farmers across the South with farm management, debt restructuring, alternative crop suggestions, marketing expertise and a whole range of services to ensure family farm survivability.  
2769 Church Street · East Point, GA · 30344