Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
WASHINGTON American Indian farmers and ranchers now have an opportunity to participate in the Census of Agriculture. The census is being conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an agency within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Number of American Indian farmers in the US
is expected to grow.
The last Census, conducted in 2007, counted more than 3 million farms and ranches in the United States spanning more than 922 million acres. American Indians made up 2.4 percent of this number, or roughly 80,000 farmers.
This Census intends to capture a complete count of all United States farms, ranches and those who operate them. The findings of the Census are a valuable resource. Conducted every five years, the information collected helps farmers and officials make business, program and policy decisions.
“The findings of the Census are used by state and county officials to fund community infrastructure projects and agribusiness to make informed decisions based on the collected data.”
said Wilbert Hundl, Jr., Director of the National Agricultural Statistics Service Oklahoma Field Office.
With just over an 88 percent increase in the number of American Indian farm and ranch operators from the previous Census in 2002, the 2007 increase is due to the Census now counting all farmers on reservations as individual farming operations, instead of a single reservation as a single farm operation. The number of American Indian farmers in the US is expected to grow in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
“We need to count all farmers and ranchers, regardless of their operation size or scope, including those of Native American heritage,”
“Beginning with the 2007 Census of Agriculture, the census data collection effort moved from a Reservation-based reporting, to an individual producer-based reporting, and also allowed producers to self-designate their origin across more than one category.”
The method of counting individual tribal farmers allows them to be heard at the local, state and federal levels. To further understand Native American farmer's needs, National Agricultural Statistics Service places an emphasis on improving the count of this previously under represented population.
Census forms were mailed in late December and responses are due by Feb. 4th. Producers also have the option to complete forms online.
For more information about the Census, visit agcensus.usda.gov or call 1.800.4AG.STAT (1.888.424.7828).
posted January 10, 2013 6:00 am est