Farmers in Delaware and Maryland will have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities and industry by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the census, starting to be mailed out, is a complete count of U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them.

Census data is used by those who serve farmers and rural communities from federal, state and local governments to agribusinesses, trade associations and researchers.

“Good policies and services are rooted in quality data. We want all farms counted because there’s strength in numbers that only the census can reveal,” said Michael Scuse, Delaware secretary of agriculture.

This year, NASS has revised the online census questionnaire at agcounts.usda.gov to make it convenient for producers. Farmers can mail in their completed census form or take advantage of new time-saving features by responding online. The online system calculates totals for the producer and skips sections that do not pertain to the operation. The census response deadline is Feb. 5, 2018, with results of the census released in 2019.

In the 2012 census, Delaware farmers reported a total of 2,451 farms, spanning over 508,000 acres. These numbers represented 4 percent decrease in the number and Delaware farms from the previous census in 2007. Market value of agricultural products sold was $1.3 billion, an increase of 18 percent from the previous census for Delaware.

The 2017 Census of Agriculture will collect new information including data on active service and military veteran farmers, as well as expanded questions on food marketing practices and on-farm decision-making to better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers and other involved in running the business.

For more, visit agcensus.usda.gov or call 888-424-7828.