Farmers face Feb. 4 deadline for agriculture census

trucks hauling farms
BRIAN HUGHES | News Bulletin
Published: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 10:50 AM.

CRESTVIEW — As 2013 gets underway, north Okaloosa County farmers are preparing to file required Census of Agriculture reports.

Area farmers should receive their census forms in the mail in early January, and must submit them to the USDA by Feb. 4. Federal law protects the confidentiality of each farmer’s information gathered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The USDA uses the census, which is due every five years, to assess the state of America’s farms and form farm policy.

“I’m sure the census is going to play a huge part of a new agriculture farm bill,” local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist Darryl Williams said. “In that bill is moneys tied all over the place. It goes from domestic programs through the farm system, from food stamps up to crops.”

With the north county being a large farming region, Williams said, “the food bill plays a major role in our area.”

A USDA news release called the Census of Agriculture “the only source of consistent and comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation.”

“The census provides detailed data covering nearly every facet of U.S. agriculture,” the release stated. “It looks at land use and ownership, production practices, expenditures and other factors that affect the way farmers do business and succeed in the 21st century.”

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