Feds Mailing Census Forms to America's Farmers and Ranchers

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Just as the crush of Christmas cards and holiday packages in the mail dwindles, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is gearing up to send census forms to millions of farmers and ranchers nationwide.

The form will be mailed Friday and should hit mailboxes next week.  Questionnaires will be mailed to more than 50,000 Arkansans by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The agriculture census is taken every five years, and the data collected plays a key role in the development of the farm bill and other federal policy.  It also can lead to changes in the marketplace and affect the business decisions of farmers and ranchers.

Completed forms are due by February 4, 2008, via mail or online.

The census looks at everything from production numbers for 2007 and the age of a farmer's equipment to whether farmers and ranchers have to hold down second jobs.

The USDA says the census is the responsibility of all farmers and ranchers, regardless of the size or type of their operations.  The agency considers a farm or ranch any place that normally produces or sells $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the census year.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)