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2017 Census of Agriculture Forms Sent Out

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David Geiger: Welcome to the Agribusiness Report, I'm David Geiger, with me is Greg Thessen he is the director for the USDA NASS Upper Midwest Regional Office. Greg, thank you so much for being here.

Greg Thessen: My Pleasure, David.

David Geiger: Alright, let's get started off on the U.S. Census of Agriculture. It's a pretty big deal, only happens every five years. Could you explain why the census is important?

Greg Thessen: Right, a couple reasons, the census is sent out to every producer once every five years and it really provides a uniform and comprehensive set of information that tells the story of U.S. agriculture. No matter how big or small the operation might be for a given producer. It gives all the producers the chance to have input into those numbers, which are used throughout the industry but helps them give them a voice to tell the story of agriculture, number one. But it's also used throughout the industry for other things such as agribusinesses use it to determine where they might want to locate a new facility, promote a new product, or with other USDA programs that impact farmers, how that funding is allocate, and a lot of times whether they want to develop new rural infrastructure projects. Things like that all come from the census of agriculture.

David Geiger: Looking at it now, most farmers should have received their surveys, what are they looking at when they get there? What's the procedure?

Greg Thessen: So, they've either gotten a letter or a form in the mail, and so they should receive those in the next few days if they haven't seen it already. And so, that'll come, and if they want to fill it out and put it back into the business reply envelope included, they can do that. Or they can respond online on a secure website as well. The form looks a little bit more intimidating than it is but if they follow the skip instructions in there, they should get through it pretty fast, and I think the time they invest in it will certainly be repaid by all the uses of that information that could benefit them.

David Geiger: Now this is a lot of personal information that a farmer will be filling out, what's the extent of security around that?

Greg Thessen: Sure, there's specific laws that protect the information they report. So, it cannot be divulged in any way for their individual operations. It can only be used to aggregate to state and county level numbers and then reported out that way. Any information that they provide for their specific operation is kept confidential.

David Geiger: Alright, Greg, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.

Greg Thessen: You're welcome, David.

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