One month into collection of its Census of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reporting that 25 percent of the questionnaires have already been returned and call centers are overwhelmed with calls and emails.

USDA Census Planning Office Chief Chris Messer says the response has been far above what is expected and she encourages everyone who has left a message to have patience as they work to respond to the large volume of questions.

Messer encourages farmers and ranchers with questions about the census to visit the frequently asked questions section of

Responses to the Census of Agriculture are due by Feb. 4 and may be submitted online or via mail. Farmers who have not responded by Feb. 4 will receive a follow-up postcard from National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reminding them to fill out the questionnaire.

The census collects data covering every facet of agriculture across the nation for the USDA. Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the census. It also requires NASS to keep all information gathered through the census confidential.