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December 11, 2002

2002 Census of Agriculture in mailboxes by the new year

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The 2002 Census of Agriculture will ask new questions concerning computer use, organic farming and producer revenue.

The census is conducted in Indiana by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Statistics Service located at Purdue University. Forms will be mailed in late December to collect data from the 2002 calendar year.

"This is the only comprehensive look at farming information at the county level," said Steve Wilson, deputy state agriculture statistician for Indiana. "It provides information for counties for use in rural development, for attracting industry and that sort of thing."

Wilson said the census can take anywhere from five minutes to two hours to complete, depending on a farm operation's complexity. The estimated 2.1 million farmers and ranch operators across the United States need to return the completed forms by Feb. 3.

This year's census includes new questions about multiple operators per farm, production contracts, certified organic acreage, grain storage capacity, computer and Internet use, and new commodities, such as bison, elk, llamas, emus and ostriches. All of the collected data is confidential and protected by law. Results from the census are published in broad geographical summaries to prevent the identification of individual farms or ranches.

This year will be the 26th time the Census of Agriculture has been conducted, the first being in 1840. The census was taken every 10 years until 1920, when it began being conducted every five years.

• Farm organizations, which use the data to evaluate and propose policies to protect and promote U.S. agriculture.

• Farm machinery manufacturers, grain elevator operators, slaughter and cold storage operators, and others in agribusiness, who target locations where they are most needed.

• Seed and fertilizer producers, who compare yields and other information to make their products more effective.

• Irrigation specialists, water resource developers, and irrigation equipment manufacturers, who convert census data into practical advice for farm operators.

• Researchers, who use county-level data to define problem areas and help farmers recover from outbreaks of disease and pests.

"It shows how important each county is at the state level," Wilson said. "Everything is counted, even mint and fruits. It's the only look at a small specialty crop or small crops that are produced in the state and where they're produced in the state."

Anyone who needs help to complete the census may call 1-800-4AG-STAT. All information is confidential.

Writer: Barney T. Haney, (765) 494-8402, haneyb@purdue.edu

Sources: Steve Wilson, (765) 494-8375, swilson@nass.usda.gov

Joe Miller, (202) 720-3844

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/

Related Web site:
Agricultural Statistics Service


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