The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to release the 2022 Census of Agriculture data during an event Tuesday at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.
Conducted every five years, the Census of Agriculture data intends to capture the landscape of American food and farm producers and to highlight the value of U.S. agriculture. This event, put on by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, will include Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Chavonda Jacobs-Young.
The event will include two parts: the release of the information at 12:30 p.m. EST, followed by a news conference at 1:30 p.m. on the Patio of the Jamie Whitten Building (the USDA’s administrative building).
The data collected through the census highlights changes, trends, and challenges across nearly every aspect of agriculture. It is a key factor in determining farm policy and, hopefully, it helps strengthen rural America’s voice. The census remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state, county, and U.S. territory.
In early 2023, AGDAILY spoke with Lance Honig, Chief of Crops Branch at the USDA’s NASS, about the census. Here’s his reply to some of my questions:
AGDAILY: What value does the census provide when informing policy and resource distribution? Could you provide some examples you have seen?
Honig: Ag census data influence policy and resource distribution and are used by other USDA agencies, ag producers, community planners, legislators and researchers to inform programs.
For example, federal, state, and local policymakers can use NASS data to inform programs and budgets that benefit agriculture constituents. This has resulted in a governor’s commission to support the poultry industry, counties developing right-to-farm legislation and a snow removal budget that ensures clear roads for daily product transportation in one state.
AGDAILY: How does USDA overcome farmer hesitation to respond to the census and how do they protect respondents’ information? Why is this aspect important?
Honig: As the statistical agency for USDA, we are committed to keeping respondents’ information secure and confidential, during and after collection.
During preparation, official estimates and forecasts are prepared under tight security to ensure that only authorized staff working on reports have access to the information before it’s released. All NASS employees have signed a written pledge and are subject to a jail term, fine, or both if they disclose confidential information.
After collection, NASS only publishes aggregated data and never publishes survey results in a way that identifies individuals or their operations unless the individual has approved the release of the data in writing.
Additionally, information provided for NASS surveys is protected by law under Title 7 and the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) which requires that names, addresses, latitude/longitude coordinates, reported data, and other personal information is not disclosed.
AGDAILY: Are there any new data points that the USDA is trying to highlight for 2022 that would be interesting or relevant to the current landscape?
Honig: New questions in this year’s census include the use of precision agriculture, hemp production, hair sheep, and updates to internet access questions.
These new topics reflect changes and trends in U.S. agriculture and allow us to continue to provide relevant agricultural data to decision-makers in addition to helping inform policies and programs to support our nation’s farmers.
This post will be updated throughout the day on Tuesday as information becomes available and data from the 2022 Census of Agriculture is analyzed. So, don’t hesitate to bookmark it!
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Author: Ryan Tipps