In just a few weeks, farmers and ranchers across the nation will start receiving the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Producers can mail in their completed census form, or respond online via the improved web questionnaire. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has extensively revised the online questionnaire to make it more convenient for producers.

“We urge all farmers to respond when they receive their Census form,” said Mike Naig, Iowa’s Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. “The results of the Census help us tell the story behind Iowa’s top industry and provides a wealth of information used by producers, community leaders, Congress, agribusiness, policymakers, researchers, local governments, and many others when making decisions that shape American agriculture – from creating and funding farm programs to boosting services for communities and the industry.”

“The updated online questionnaire is very user-friendly – it can now be used on any electronic device, and can be saved and revisited as the producer’s schedule allows,” said NASS Upper Midwest Regional Office Director Greg Thessen. “New time-saving features of the online questionnaire include automatically calculating totals, skipping sections that do not pertain to the operation, and providing drop-down menus of frequent responses.”

Revisions and additions to the 2017 Census of Agriculture aim to capture a more detailed account of the industry. Producers will see a new question about military veteran status, expanded questions about food marketing practices, and questions about on-farm decision-making to better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers, and others involved in running the business.

Response to the census of agriculture is required by law under Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113. The same law requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and only in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any producer.