Several of the Vance Publishing food360° editors met with representatives of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Survey, the folks who do the every-5-year agricultural census. The 2007 Ag Census was released in early February.
Carol House, Deputy Administrator for Programs and Products and Chair, Agricultural Statistic Board, said the most notable trend was a 4% increase in the number of farms, many of those being small “start-up” farms. There were more large and small farms, but the medium size farms were collapsing.
The NASS is seeking to identify and add to their next census anyone who has even one head of livestock (classified as a farm) whether that be a steer for their own beef or some goats to mow the lawn. These folks are hard to identify because many have not been established or counted in the past. Veterinarians are in a prime position to encourage those hobby farmers or small clients to participate in the next Census of Agriculture.
The NASS is also conducting a first-ever, wide-scale census of organic farming which will be published winter 2009.
“We eat and clothe ourselves based on production agriculture. There are a lot of stories in the Census of Agriculture,” adds House.
The full Census and its various reports can be found at www.agcensus.usda.gov.