USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is preparing to release the new 2012 Census of Agriculture report, but because of the government shutdown earlier this year the full release will be delayed. They will have a preliminary result out on February 20, 2014 at the Ag Outlook Forum.
Donald Buysse, Deputy Branch Chief at the Census Planning Branch, told HAT the delay is to ensure accurate data.
“We don’t want to compromise the data quality so we’re going to take as much time as we need, but I expect that around the February timeframe when we release the preliminary report the public will know at that point when we’re coming out with the full release.”
Conducted once every 5 years, the census is an important tool for American agriculture.
“In terms of what’s going on and telling the story of American agriculture it’s of premium importance because it’s been conducted since the first census in 1840. So there’s this long data series that really can help you establish trends over time, and so with the census we use that as a vehicle to tap into what’s going on in the ag sector in terms of changes.”
He adds comprehensive local county level data is supplied by NASS throughout the year, but not in the volume that can be found in the census.
Buysse says it appears that there was a good return rate for census forms, and that increases the accuracy of the data.
“I’ll take the opportunity to thank the farmers who sent in their data. It is a long, arduous journey to collect the data. We sent out 3 million forms, but we got good response and the kind of response that you would expect given that it is considered a mandatory survey. And so we are excited and know that the quality is going to be there because of the responses.”
That preliminary report will offer a quick look at both national and state results.