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home : business : financial Friday, April 19, 2019

11/2/2016 10:58:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
The Agriculture Census And What It Means For Hmong Farmers

By Macy Yang

Every five years the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts a national agricultural census. The Ag census is a comprehensive data collection of the number of U.S. farms and ranches and other information about the people who own them. The census gathers information like, race, gender, land use, ownership, production, income and many other areas for statistical reasons. This information helps the government formulate policies, design farm programs, develop marketing strategies, and allocate local and national funds for farm and rural development programs.

Since 1840, the government has been collecting information on agriculture. Reporting is required from all farmers who make at least $1,000 of agricultural production sales on any size land. The last Ag census was conducted in 2012. NASS is currently collecting addresses and contact information for farmers for the next census, which will be disseminated and reported in 2017.

During the census NASS is adding a new category to the survey as a result of a USDA initiative that was launched in 2009 known as Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, which focuses on locally grown food production and sales. The survey will ask farmers about their local production and sales at local markets, including farmer's markets, restaurants, roadside stands, and other food hubs.

According to Sue King at NASS responding to the Ag census survey is important for all farmers. King adds that, "This is the message that NASS wants to get to Hmong and other farmers who have historically been underrepresented. The information from the 2017 Census data will affect future agricultural operations and producers."

The Ag census impacts small farmers, including Hmong farmers. The more complete the survey is the more accurate information the government has to make their policies. According to the 2012 Ag census, 88 percent of all farms are small family farms. Asian-operated farms made up less than 1 percent of all U.S. farms in 2012, but due to the successful efforts by NASS and their community partners that number represented more than a 20 percent increase over the 2007 census. In 2012, Fresno County reported 1499 farms and 129,232 acres of combined farmland with Asian operators. NASS hopes the 2017 Ag census survey will do an even better job at capturing farms owned and operated by underrepresented populations. King further adds, "Participating in the Census gives farmers a voice in the decisions that affect their farms and their communities."

NASS will have a Hmong-language brochure and signup card for the 2017 census. King says that she hopes that Hmong farmers will use the cards now to let NASS know their contact information and will respond when the 2017 census questionnaire is sent out. Although NASS does not have Hmong-language capacity at this time, they plan to have it during the data collection period. Anyone with questions should call 888-424-7828.

St. Paul, MN



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