Eureka Springs Farmers Market ~ Photo Courtesy of Steve Shogren
Governor Mike Beebe has proclaimed January 2013 Agriculture Census Month:
Counties and states receive attention--and money--from the US Department of Agriculture based on the number of their farmers, and the cash receipts they generate. That's why it is important for everyone who farms or ranches to complete the 2012 Census of Agriculture in January 2012.
"Who" is a farmer or rancher? Anyone who grosses $1,000.00 or more in a production year. That means that almost all farmers' market vendors and roadside farm stand operators should complete the form.
Many small farmers and livestock producers are reluctant to complete the census form because they often operate on a cash basis, or informally, and don't think that their agricultural activities are important enough to be counted. That's a common mistake which results in small operators--mostly fruit, vegetable, and free-range livestock and poultry producers--being under-represented as recipients of Federal resources such as subsidies, loans, USDA products, and many services. For example, US cotton producers--about 8,000 farmers--receive more in subsidies than all the organic fruit and vegetable farmers do in total (est. 196,000).
Completing the 2012 census form is completely confidential. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), which directs and manages the Ag Census, safeguards the privacy of all respondents and publishes data only in aggregate form, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. For more information contact Becky Cross, Director of the Arkansas NASS Field Office at (501) 228-9926 ext. 103. To participate in the census visit the NASS website to download the census form.