The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is preparing to conduct its 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture. Horses will be included in the Census. Every five years, USDA conducts an agriculture census to determine the number of U.S. farms and ranches and gather vital information about U.S agriculture, including the horse community. The census is a valuable tool to help the USDA determine land use and ownership, livestock populations, operator characteristics, production practices, farm income as well as other important information.
“It is very important that the American horse community is properly accounted for in the upcoming Census,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “The information collected by the Census will influence agricultural policy for the next five years. It’s vital all farms and ranches with horses participate in the Census so the USDA has accurate information regarding the size and scope of the horse community.”
Farm or ranch owners who participated in the last Census in 2007 will automatically be mailed a survey that can be filled in and mailed back. If a farm or ranch was not part of the 2007 Census and has not received a form in the mail, the owner can go to the USDA’s census website, www.agcensus.usda.gov, and register. Once this form is submitted online, a survey will be mailed. Once they have received their form in the mail owners will have the option to fill out the Census online or mail back the form.
Further information on the 2012 Census of Agriculture can be found on the USDA’s website at www.agcensus.usda.gov. Farmers and ranchers should receive a Census form in the mail by early January. Completed forms are due by February 4, 2013.
“Members of the horse community need to understand that even if they have a very small farm or ranch they still qualify to take part in the Census. If you made $1,000 from selling horses, stud fees or some other equine activity you should participate. If you made $1,000 from any combination of agricultural activity and have horses on the property you should participate and list those horses,” said Hickey. “But don’t forget to send in your form before the February 4th deadline.”
According to the USDA guidelines for the Census, a farm is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products, including horses, were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.