Producers are required by law to respond.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. notified the media today that the department urges Louisiana farmers and ranchers to participate in the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

Producers should respond online at www.agcounts.usda.gov or by mail by February 5.

Strain noted that The Census of Agriculture is the only U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) questionnaire mailed to every producer across the country. Moreover, the census is conducted just once every five years.

Census data is relied on when developing the Farm Bill and other farm policy, and when making decisions about disaster relief, community planning, and technology development.

“This information is necessary for the agriculture industry to be properly and accurately represented here in the state of Louisiana,” Strain said.

Strain noted that in order to avoid additional contacts, farmers and ranchers are asked to complete their Census as soon as possible, even if not currently farming. The Census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation.

Producers are required by law to respond.

“We are asking producers to help show our nation the value and importance of American agriculture,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in the email. “We need to hear from all of our farmers and ranchers, no matter how big or how small their part of agriculture. The Census is their voice, their future, their opportunity. Please respond now.”

NASS is required by the same federal law to keep all information confidential, use the data only for statistical purposes, and only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation.

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov. For questions or assistance with the Census, call toll-free 888-424-7828.