In about three weeks, farmers in Wisconsin and around the country will received a mailed form for conducting a 2012 Census of Agriculture.
This census is conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
The census forms, which are due to be returned by Feb. 4, ask farmers and ranchers to provide updated statistics about their agricultural enterprises.
NASS officials indicate that the data, which is collected and compiled in aggregate categories, is used by federal, state, and local governments along with agribusinesses and the trade associations of companies serving agriculture.
Agricultural cooperatives and privately-owned agribusinesses use the census data to help determine the location of their facilities and what type of services they will offer.
Legislators also have access to the data for formulating farm policies and programs.
To complete the census, farmers have the option of doing so online instead of filling out the printed form.
The online format of the census can be accessed through the series of 17 numbers and letters that appears as the top line on the mailing label.
Under Title 7 of United States Code, all persons who receive a mailed copy of the census are legally required to complete the form, whether or not they operated a farm or ranch in 2012.
The census seeks information from all agricultural operations, which generated at least $1,000 worth of agricultural production (crops or livestock) during 2012.
More information about the census is available on the www.agcensus.usda.gov Web site or by calling 1-888-424-7828.
The results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture are scheduled to be released in February of 2014 with data breakouts for each state and county in addition to the national numbers.