For Immediate Release: January 14, 2013
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – New Jersey farmers have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities by taking part in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Census is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them. Forms have been mailed out throughout the state with a submission deadline of February 4, 2013.
“We urge all farmers in New Jersey to respond promptly to ensure the most accurate reporting of the status of agriculture in the state,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “The Census provides information that benefits producers and their communities, from guiding production strategies to helping policymakers develop strategies to strengthen and grow the industry.”
The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and other topics. This information is used by all those who serve farmers and rural communities from federal, state and local governments to agribusinesses and trade associations. For example, legislators use the data when shaping farm policy and agribusinesses factor it into their planning efforts.
“The Census remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation,” said Renee Picanso, director of NASS’s Census and Survey Division. “It’s a critical tool that gives farmers a voice to influence decisions that will shape the future of their community, industry and operation. Your answers to the Census impact farm programs and rural services that support your community, so do your part and be counted when you receive your form, because there’s strength in numbers that only the Census can reveal.”
In 2007, U.S. farmers reported over two million farms, spanning across more than 922 million acres. This showed nearly a four percent increase in the number of U.S. farms from the previous Census in 2002. These new farms tended to have more diversified production, fewer acres, lower sales and younger operators who also worked off-farm. This telling information and thousands of statistics are only available every five years as a direct result of farmer responses to the Census.
The NASS New Jersey field office will collect the data for the 2012 calendar year and compile it, with a national release sometime in early 2014. In the 2007 Census, the number of farms in New Jersey had grown to more than 10,000 for the first time since the 1960’s, and the value of products sold reached near $1.0 billion. The results will identify trends and give a detailed picture of agriculture in the state.
"The results of the Census are used by companies, universities, cooperatives, planners and lawmakers who serve New Jersey farmers and communities - including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations and many others," said John Gibbons, Deputy Director, USDA-NASS-NJ. "Farmers and ranchers also use Census data to help make informed decisions about the future of their own operations."
Taking part in the Census is increasingly important to New Jersey producers and communities because it provides a snapshot of the agriculture industry in every county of the state. This local information can affect policy decisions as well as influence community growth and development.
"The Census provides producers an opportunity to help shape farm programs, boost rural services and grow your farm future," added Gibbons. "Many companies review Census data when determining where to establish or expand their businesses, and even when looking for where they can go for supplies of locally-produced food and agricultural products - all examples that emphasize the importance of responding and supplying accurate Census information."
Producers can fill out the form online via a secure website or return it by mail. Visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/news/hottopics/approved/topics071218.html for more information. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.
For more information, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov. The Census of Agriculture is your voice, your future, your responsibility.