January 2003 is Census of Agriculture Month

January 2003 is Census of Agriculture Month During the next few weeks, many producers in South Dakota and the rest of the United States will receive a 2002 Census of Agriculture survey to complete.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts a comprehensive census analyzing local, state and national trends in agriculture. This year marks the 26th census of agriculture originating back to the first census conducted in 1840.

Why is it important to complete the census survey? In order to make good decisions, producers must first have knowledge of changing markets and awareness of emerging technologies and trends. The census can help answer these questions and more.

When determining where to locate a processing facility, a developer will want to look at many factors that are available from the census including proximity to resources.

This data is also important for locating other value added operations such as ethanol plants and feed mills, used for research purposes and utilized to plan educational needs.

The 2002 Census will include new questions regarding farms with multiple operators, computer and Internet usage, and new livestock categories including bison, deer, elk, llamas, emus and ostriches. USDA NASS officials urge producers to complete and return the forms by Feb. 3, 2003.

Because of the importance of the census, Gov. Janklow has declared that this January is "2002 Census of Agriculture Month." Data provided by individual producers is kept strictly confidential by law and only published in geographic summaries.

Anyone with questions regarding the 2002 Census of Agriculture should contact the USDA NASS office at 1-800-4AG-STAT.

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