April 2008
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Farmers Still Have Time to be Counted and Make a Difference

With planting season just around the corner, U.S. farmers and ranchers still have a chance to sow a seed for their future by standing up and being counted in the 2007 Census of Agriculture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reminds farmers, even small farmers with limited production, their voices are important and need to be heard. As a result, Census responses are still being accepted.

"We sincerely appreciate the dedication and effort of the thousands of Alabama farmers and producers who have sent us their Census forms," said Bill Weaver, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Alabama Field Office. "But if you missed the original due date, there is good news – there is still time to be counted. So before you jump back on that tractor, take a moment to complete and return your Census report form."

The Census of Agriculture, conducted every five years, is the only source of consistent and comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation. That information is used by town planners, policy makers, agribusinesses and others to make important growth-generating decisions.

"By responding to the Census, the nation’s agricultural producers are sowing seeds that will reap benefits far into the future," Weaver said. "That’s why we are committed to ensuring every farm and ranch operation in the U.S. is counted."

The deadline for submitting the Census forms passed on February 4, 2008, and many Alabama farmers have responded. However, it’s not too late for those who have not sent theirs in to be able to speak up for their communities, their industry and their future. NASS recently mailed a second copy of the Census to those who have not yet responded.

"And as we move into spring, we’ll be following up with additional mailings and phone calls in order to ensure no one is left out," Weaver added. "The Census really is every producer’s opportunity to be a voice for their own business, their community and their industry. Accurate and comprehensive information from all farmers is important, so it can provide a true picture of where U.S. agriculture is today and help people plan appropriately for its needs in the future. This information is only gathered every five years, so we need the participation of every farmer to ensure they receive a planning tool that will provide them with the most benefit and value."

Census responses are required and protected by law. This law safeguards the privacy of individual responses. Farmers can return their forms by mail or, for the first time, they have the convenient option of responding online. For more information about the Census, or for assistance with completing the 2007 Census of Agriculture, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call toll-free (888) 4AG-STAT or (888) 424-7828. The Census is your voice, your future and your responsibility.