April 18, 2024 5:52 am
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Granite State’s Small Farmers Reap Benefits from USDA Census

Credit: iStock

Kathryn Carley

New Hampshire’s small farmers are encouraged to complete the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture census to ensure they have a voice in federal decisions that will shape the future of agriculture.

The census takes place every five years, collecting data that determines farm programs and services, disaster assistance, research, technology development, and more.

Angie Considine, a New England state statistician with USDA said any operation with roughly $1,000 in annual sales should participate.

“It doesn’t take that long to fill it out if you are a small farm,” said Considine, “because you know you can skip a lot of sections and just fill out the parts that apply to you if you are a small farm.”

The early deadline to complete the census is February 6 and it can be completed through the USDA’s ag counts website.

Since 1840, the ag census has gathered useful data on New Hampshire’s sweet corn, dairy and Christmas tree operations as well as their disappearance.

The state has lost roughly 4% of its best soils to roadways while urban development consumed another 12% of productive farmland.

Considine said without proper data from small farmers, farm policies could be centered around larger agribusiness operations.

“All these programs that help the farmer and help these students that do research and government programs for the farmers,” said Considine. “There’s just so many different ways that that data is used.”

Data gathered in the last census helped USDA better support small farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic, when wholesale markets were drying up, and farms were losing profits.

Consadine said every farm matters, and deserves to be counted.

References:  

NH Natural Resources Inventories (includes farmlands data) the University of New Hampshire 2010

This story was written by Kathryn Carley, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.