(KMAland) — Data collection is underway for the Census of Agriculture Special Study, called the 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey.
The USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service is mailing survey codes to thousands of producers nationwide in an effort to collect this important data that’s collected once every five years. Adam Cline is the Census Section Head for NASS. He says the special survey will expand on the data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture.
“The Census of Agriculture always does a great job of providing high-level data on a variety of items in the agricultural industry. However, in order to get more detailed data on certain industries such as aquaculture, organics, irrigation, and right now with local foods, we try to reach back out to producers who have indicated that they were involved in these types of agriculture on the Census of Ag and asked them for more detailed data on those industry topics.”
He talks about the information the agency will collect in the survey.
“The goal here is to produce data about local and regional food systems. That information will include the number of agricultural operations in the United States that produce local foods, the value of local food sales by marketing channels, the value of crops and livestock sales, marketing practices and expenses, and federal farm program participation. The federal funding and policies for local and regional food systems have been greatly expanded recently. However, more official data and a need for increased understanding of this emerging trend in the agricultural sector is still needed. Until 2015, no federal farm level benchmark data existed on local food sales, production practices, risk management, marketing channels, and other factors that are key to informing and implementing policies and programs.”
Cline says producer participation is important because the data is important to many organizations involved in agriculture.
“Participation is important because the data is important. The stronger the response, the stronger the data. Federal, state, and local officials use this data for many programs. Some examples of this data usage include USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, the Local Foods Promotion Program, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency uses this data to enhance their microloans programs; state and local agencies support and promotion of local food markets is heavily used for this data; farmers themselves, and ag organizations use this data to enhance their businesses and marketing strategies, and, of course, researchers and university extension members use this data in their research.”
Cline talks about the best way for producers to respond to the survey.
“The fastest and most secure way to respond is online, and they can do that at www.agcounts.usda.gov. You can always mail back their survey, and we are also available by telephone.”
Results for the Local Food Marketing Practices survey will be available November 18, 2021. For more information: www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus