Be Counted – 2017 Census of Agriculture


America’s farmers and ranchers will soon have the opportunity to strongly represent agriculture in their communities and industry by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census, to be mailed at the end of this year, is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches, and those who operate them.


"The 2017 Census of Agriculture remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation," said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. "As such, census results are relied upon heavily by those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, and farmers and ranchers themselves."


The census data benefits producers in a number of ways.  Farm and ranch organizations use the data to evaluate and propose programs and policies that will help farmers and ranchers. Agribusinesses use the information to develop marketing strategies and determine locations of facilities that will serve producers.  Farmers and ranchers use the census data to determine potential business opportunities, and to evaluate their operation in comparison to local, State, and national averages.  Extension specialists and universities use census statistics to develop new improved methods to increase agricultural production and profitability.  Additionally, elected local and state representatives will use the census data to develop farm programs that will help producers and promote U.S. agriculture.


Every farmer and rancher needs to be counted regardless of the size and type of operation. Information on individual operations will remain strictly confidential by law (Title 7, U.S. Code).  NASS safeguards the confidentiality of  operators’ responses and will not disclose any information about an individual farm or ranch operation.


In December, the census forms will be mailed out. U.S. law (Title 7, U.S. Code) requires operators/producers to respond to the census. Responses are important because only U.S. farmers and ranchers can supply the answers needed to generate an accurate picture of the Nation’s agriculture. Forms can be returned by mail, or by filling out the Census online via a secure website. Please take the time to be counted!


For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture and to see how census data are used, visit


Source: Wesley Tucker, MU Extension Ag Business Specialist