Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Agriculture Counts on Ag Day ... and Every Other Day

Submitted by Renee Picanso, USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service

National Ag Day is about recognizing and celebrating the important contributions of America's farmers and ranchers as well as the 3 million hard-working producers that feed the other 300 million of us. And we're proud, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service, to be a sponsor of the 2012 National Ag Day program.

Many know us for the Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years, the Census is a complete count of America's farms and ranches. Without it, we wouldn't know that 3 million producers farm this land of ours. Knowing that 1 percent of the U.S. population feeds the other 99 percent of us is pretty amazing. But there's more to the story if you dig a little deeper.

From the 2007 Census of Agriculture, we learned that the hand that feeds us is changing. The number of women farmers grew by 30 percent between 2002 and 2007, and Hispanic farmers increased by 10 percent during that same period of time. The point is, the diversity of agriculture is constantly changing and the Census plays an important role in showing us how.

Since we're on the subject of National Ag Day, think about the fun facts and figures you'll hear as proof points to agriculture's importance this week. Things like the number of eggs produced annually, strawberry production in Florida or pumpkins grown in Ohio will be thrown around like candy at a parade.

These all come from the Census and other NASS data products we produce from talking to the very farmers we're honoring this week. The good news is the 2012 Census of Agriculture is right around the corner, giving farmers another opportunity to be counted. To make sure you are counted in the Census, sign up today!

One of the coolest things about National Ag Day is learning more about the amazing story of America's farmers and ranchers. But knowing that we play a small role in telling their story through the information we collect from farmers makes it even cooler.

Happy Ag Day, everyone!