Red and white barns on green field LesPalenik/ThinkstockPhotos
SEND IT IN: Whether you respond to the 2017 Census of Agriculture by mail or online, do not miss the chance to be counted, says Greg Thessen, NASS director in Iowa.

Still time to respond to Census of Agriculture

Although the official deadline was earlier this month, you can still fill out and send in your ag census form.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reminds farmers they still have time to complete their 2017 Census of Agriculture form and send it in—if they have not already done so. Conducted once every five years, the census aims to contact every producer to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture.

“Filling out your form and sending it in has a powerful effect on your farming business, your family and your community,” says Greg Thessen. He’s director of the Upper Midwest Regional USDA National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) office in Des Moines. “Having accurate ag census data impacts everything from production practices you use, and farming technologies, to succession planning and broadband access,” notes Thessen.

Iowa is an agricultural leader, ranking as the top producer of several commodities. There is another agricultural title the state is currently holding—the highest response from farmers on the 2017 Census of Agriculture. As of February 22, just over 50% of Iowa farmers had returned their questionnaires. This is the highest response rate of any state although response from Illinois producers is close behind and challenging to take over the top spot. 

Greater participation makes the census more accurate

Mike Naig, deputy secretary of agriculture at the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship is also reminding farmers to return their census form. “Thank you to all the Iowa farmers who have completed their Census of Agriculture,” says Naig. “We want to maintain the top spot for responses but more importantly we need every producer to complete their questionnaire to accurately reflect what is actually happening on our state’s farms.”

While the initial deadline passed earlier this month, NASS is still accepting questionnaires. In the coming weeks, farmers who have not responded will receive a follow-up phone call or reminder mailing.  

You can complete your ag census form now by going online at or by sending it in via U.S. mail. 

Census data helps produce better informed decisions

“The Census data is used by policy makers to make decisions about farm policies and budget allocations that will impact our farms and rural communities. A new four-year farm bill is now being discussed in Congress. The Ag Census is a chance for farmers to make sure decision-makers have the best information possible about what is happening on our farms when making those farm policy decisions,” Naig notes. 

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; 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.

Farmers can respond online at or send your census in by mail. For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit or call (800) 727-9540.

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