Thanks for tuning in this month to our installments of USDA Then and Now photo series on the amazing innovations that have helped rural America grow and respond to a constantly evolving agricultural landscape. Here you can see Part I, Part II, and Part III.
In our fourth and final Then and Now, we look to some of our long-standing historical programs and missions then, versus how they look today in 2014.
Please keep your stories coming using #AgInnovates! Read more »
This week, USDA released preliminary data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture that provides a snapshot of a rural America that remains stable in the face of difficult economic times. While the data do not paint a perfect picture, they do tell a story of the unlimited potential and growing opportunity in modern rural America.
Census data indicate that the loss of farmland has slowed significantly since 2007, which means that while a total of 72 million acres of farmland have been lost since the 1982 census, we have begun to stem the tide. New tools in the 2014 Farm Bill should help to further slow and perhaps even reverse this trend in some areas of the country.
The results reinforce what we have known for many years: the farm population is aging. While that is a concern, the data also show that the number of young farmers increased slightly and the number of minority farm and ranch principal operators increased dramatically, reflecting the changing face of America as a whole. We are hopeful that USDA policies that attract and retain the next generation of talent into rural America will help to continue this trend. Read more »
Secretary Vilsack will present the preliminary results from the Census of Agriculture at the Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, VA on Feb. 20.
Since 1840, the U.S. government has collected important census data on agriculture. The purpose of the Census of Agriculture is to account for all U.S. farms and to summarize the characteristics of those farms and their operators at the national, state, and county levels.
Today, the Census is the only comprehensive source of statistics on American agriculture that provides information by county. So, why do we call the numbers we produce estimates? Aren’t the numbers known exactly? These are the questions I am often asked when discussing the agricultural census. The fact is that we do not know the numbers exactly so we produce the best estimates we can, given the data we collect. Read more »
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
It is astounding to reflect at the end of the year and realize once again how many pieces came together each day, each week, and each month to make sure the United States has the best official agricultural statistics. It is something of a well-oiled machine made up of America’s farmers, statisticians, modern technology, deep agricultural knowledge, and the most basic elements of human interaction – trust and hard work – that brings forth these useful and objective data on time year after year since 1840.
It takes hundreds of thousands of producers responding to a multitude of surveys each year, in addition to the every-five-year Census of Agriculture which USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducted this year, to provide the source information about U.S. farm production. For this, we thank each individual producer who takes the time to complete the surveys. Get a first look at the 2012 Census of Agriculture data on February 20, 2014 at the Ag Outlook Forum. Read more »
2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.
I arrived at my present position, an agricultural statistician responsible for analyzing demographic data, by a rather circuitous route. I majored in History and German at Rice University in Houston, Texas. I knew I wanted to explore a different society and see another part of the world, so after I graduated from college, I joined the Peace Corps. I was stationed in Cameroon for two years. That experience gave me a strong desire to be involved in international development activities. After returning to the United States, I attended graduate school at the University of Illinois and Stanford University, where I obtained degrees in Agricultural Economics. My studies involved several statistics courses, so when my interests turned closer to home, I was able to find a position with the National Agricultural Statistics Service using those skills I had gained along the way. Read more »
For a decade, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and community-based organizations (CBOs) have placed a high priority on improving the coverage and response of minority and hard-to-reach farm and ranch operators in the Census of Agriculture. CBOs partner with NASS to help reach these underserved agricultural producers and encourage them to participate in the Census. As the CBOs educate and motivate the producers they serve to complete their Census forms, these producers become part of the data that represent the accurate picture of agriculture across the nation. The partnerships are serving both the CBOs’ mission of providing service to every producer and NASS’s goal of counting every farmer and rancher in the Census of Agriculture. In the following blog, one of NASS’s longstanding CBO partners, Ralph Paige, shares his thoughts on the importance of the ongoing 2012 Census of Agriculture. Read more »