NASS announces Census of Agriculture response rate, data release schedule
October 2, 2018
The Agriculture Department's National Agricultural Statistics Service announced Monday that 71.5 percent of the "more than 3 million known and potential farms and ranches across the United States" had responded to the 2017 Census of agriculture, and that NASS will begin to release the data at the USDA Agricultural Forum on Feb. 21.
The release of the information will continue on a staggered schedule through spring of 2019. The results of the census will be available in aggregate form, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified, as required by federal law, NASS said.
The Census of Agriculture is conducted once every five years by mail. Data collection ended this July. The 71.5 percent response rate for 2017 came in below the 74.5 percent response rate for the 2012 Census of Agriculture, NASS said.
Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories will receive their Census of Agriculture questionnaires in January.
"The Census of Agriculture is an important part of U.S. history that remains as relevant today as it was in 1840 when it was first conducted," said NASS Administrator Herbert Hamer.
"The census gives voice and opportunity to all farmers and ranchers in America to tell the changing story of agriculture over the years and identify emerging trends and needs."
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"We modernized elements of our data collection for this census to make it easier for those filling out questionnaires," Hamer said.
"However, it is unrealistic to think that everyone will respond to any survey, regardless of improvements and benefits. To account for certain levels of non-response, we use accepted statistical methods and practices in our data analyses."
Hamer also noted that the previously reported response rate for the 2012 Census of Agriculure was 80.1 percent, but after analyzing returned forms that did not meet the census definition of a farm, the response rate was reduced to 74.5 percent.
The response rate for the 2007 census after recalculation was 78.2 percent, instead of the previously reported 85.2 percent.