SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – (DRG News) South Dakota’s Farmers and Ranchers will soon be asked to take the time to fill out the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The Census is conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and is a count of all U.S.farms, ranches and their operators. Carter Anderson, SD Field Office Director for the Statistics Service says in a press release that the Census is a tool that gives producers a voice to influence decisions that shape the future of their community, industry and operation. It helps define such areas as land use and ownership, production practices, income, expenditures and more. The 2007 Ag Census showed that the number of farms and ranches in the state decreased about two percent from the 2002 survey. Statistics showed that there were 31,169 operations in the state five years ago, with the average size farm in South Dakota being 1,401 acres-up from 1,380 acres in 2002. Also, the average age of South Dakota farm or ranch operators in 2007 was 55.7, up from 53.3 years of age in 2002. NASS will mail out Census forms late this month to collect data for 2012. They remind producers that completed forms are due by February 4, 2013. Producers can also fill out the Census online at www.agcensus.usda.gov or return their form by mail. All ag producers are required by federal law to take part in the Census and NASS is also required to keep individual information confidential.
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