The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years and USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) spends that time planning, preparing, and executing the Census. But that’s only a part of the Census process. Once we gather and process the data, we have to make sure the results are easily accessible and understood by the public.
Traditionally, we’ve published PDF files to the Internet, but as most of us know, it is not the optimal format for online data dissemination. If you want to analyze and mine data, you don’t want to retype them into a spreadsheet. And if you have hundreds or thousands of data points to analyze, as is the case with the Census, you need a more accessible data tool to ensure accuracy and efficiency in data sharing.
That’s where the NASS Quick Stats tool comes to the rescue. We launched this tool with the 2007 Census of Agriculture data release and since then have honed it. Using Quick Stats, you can easily query the database to retrieve customized tables with Census data at the national, state, and county levels. The results are easily exportable for additional analysis. If you have never used this database, check out our new tutorial video, which will give you an easy-to-follow introduction to Quick Stats. And if you’re a developer who would like to work with our data, we have a convenient API available as well.
We will also make available the ever-popular Desktop Data Query Tool. Unlike Quick Stats, this is a downloadable desktop tool. It allows you to analyze data without Internet access once you have downloaded and installed this tool. The Desktop Data Query Tool will include some additional cross-tabulation tables not available in Quick Stats. And just like its online counterpart, this tool will allow you to download all queries in a spreadsheet format.
And if you prefer visuals to numbers, fear not, we will have you covered. The Agricultural Atlas, which shows profiles of the nation’s agriculture at the county-level in a series of multicolor pattern and dot maps will be available with the full Census results on May 2.
All in all, with only 8 days until the release of the final 2012 Census of Agriculture results, NASS is committed to ensuring that anyone who wants to learn about U.S. agriculture will have the tools they need to easily find the data they want. And we’re still not done. Many additional tools, special studies and profiles are still to come, so stay tuned.