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Big Island Farmers, Ranchers to Receive USDA Agricultural Census

December 18, 2012, 5:52 PM HST (Updated December 19, 2012, 5:55 PM)
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For Big Island farmers and fanchers, any federal aid is a welcome boost to the bottom line.

That aid hinges on federal data about local agriculture, and a key opportunity for agricultural producers to have their voice heard is headed to island mailboxes.

The 2012 Census of Agriculture, the only source of consistent and comprehensive federal data on agricultural, is currently being mailed out across the United States.

Conducted every five years by the US Department of Agriculture, the census gathers detailed statistics covering almost every aspect of the nation’s agriculture. The survey covers everything from land use and production practices, to the expenditures agricultural business face.

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Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack explained the importance of the survey, stating “the information gathered through the census influences policy decisions that can have a tremendous impact on farmers and their communities for years to come.”

The secretary strongly encouraged farmers and ranchers to promptly complete and return their census, regardless of their operation’s size. Federal law requires all farmers and ranchers to participate in the census, which officials said is kept entirely confidential.

The census comes as state lawmakers are grappling with how to enforce new federal guidelines over agricultural food safety practices.

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Farmers and ranchers should be receiving their forms in the mail by early January. Completed forms are due by Feb. 4. The census can be returned by mail or online by visiting a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov.

For more information about the census, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828).

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