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July 13 -- The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) invites public comments to OMB by August 13, 2021 regarding its proposal for the 2022 Census of Agriculture.
 
The National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts surveys in order to prepare national, state, and county estimates of crop and livestock production, disposition, prices, as well as statistics on related environmental and economic factors. Every five years these survey statistics are benchmarked with a complete census of agricultural producers. This census is required by law under the “Census of Agriculture Act of 1997,” Public Law 105-113 (7 U.S.C. 2204g). It is the primary source of detailed state and county data that provides critical information for the agricultural sector.  
 
The data collection for the censuses of agriculture for the 50 states and Puerto Rico will be conducted primarily by mail-out/mail-back procedures (U.S. Postal Service), internet, and with phone and field enumeration for targeted non-respondents. Data collection for Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa will be conducted using direct enumeration methods only. The Census of Agriculture provides data on the number and types of farms, land use, crop area and production, livestock inventory and sales, production contracts, production expenses, farm-related income, and various demographic characteristics. These data are collected from farmers, ranchers, nursery operators, citrus caretakers, and other producers of agricultural products. Information from the Census promotes a stable economic atmosphere and reduces risk for production, marketing, and distribution operations. The agricultural industry increasingly relies on timely, accurate, and detailed information. This information affects commodities markets, government policy, imports, exports, prices, and private industry.
 
Census information is used by Executive branch agencies and Congress to formulate and evaluate national agricultural programs and policy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Economic Analysis use Census data to compile farm sector economic indicators. State and local governments use Census data in the development of local agricultural programs. Participation in federal farm programs is often based on county and state Census statistics. Farm organizations and agribusinesses use Census data for assessing the agricultural economy and for marketing analysis. New developments in the agricultural sector make Census data valuable in measuring changes and production trends. Census data are also used to evaluate estimates made from NASS’s more frequent sample survey data.
 
The target population for the Census of Agriculture is all farms. A farm is defined as any operation from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold or would normally be sold during the reference year (2022). This definition has been used since the 1974 Census of Agriculture (conducted by the Census Bureau). The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) maintains a list sampling frame containing names and addresses of operations qualifying as farms under this definition. The list frame is continuously updated and supports the NASS agricultural estimates program as well as the Census of Agriculture Program. Processes are in place to identify and eliminate duplication and inactive operators (e.g., deceased, retired, and out-of-business farmers), and to evaluate outside list sources to find new and missing farm operators.

Production agriculture is broadly accomplished through a series of establishments that vary in size and complexity. Recent statistics from the 2017 Census of Agriculture identified that the vast majority of the establishments are family-owned and managed on a day-to-day basis by one or two individuals. To date, program evaluation on policy decisions about underserved populations of reference (LGBTQ+ and producers with a disability) involved in production agriculture have been limited in scope due to the lack of primary statistics on the prevalence of members of the communities within this sector of the economy. The initial investigation into descriptive statistics concerning the new demographic data will provide a foundation for policy decisions and program evaluation within federal, state, and local governments. Potential outcomes could be revised policy decisions that could provide additional opportunities and identify new programs for producers with a disability to extend their careers on the farm and producer support to increase the prevalence of members of the LGBTQ+ community within production agriculture.
 
Census of Agriculture website: https://www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus/
2022 Census of Agriculture ICR:  https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202106-0535-002 Click IC List for survey instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation
FR notice inviting public comments: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/07/13/2021-14829/submission-for-omb-review-comment-request
 
Point of contact: Donald Buysse, Chief, Census Planning Branch (202) 690-8747 donald.buysse@usda.gov
 
For AEA members wishing to submit comments to OMB, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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