By SARAH MCCLELLAN-WELCH
The United States 2012 Census of Agriculture is underway. The USDA is mailing Surveys to growers in early January. The USDA Agricultural Statistics Service reports that the Agriculture Census results are used to “evaluate, change, promote and formulate farm and rural policies and programs that help agricultural producers. This includes formulating market strategies, providing more efficient production and distribution systems, forecasting energy needs, and planning for emergencies such as drought and outbreaks of infectious diseases”.
The USDA’s definition of a farm is anyplace from which $1,000, or more, of agricultural products were produced or sold in 2012, or would normally have been.
This means even subsistence agriculture – what you grow and use at home by your family can be counted in the Census. It has a dollar value! What would you have to pay for the vegetables, beef, pork, poultry, eggs, hay, feed corn, silage, straw, you grew if you had to buy it? All of this, and more, can be counted in the Agriculture Census. Agricultural products also include horses, honey, honeybees, greenhouse crops, nursery crops, agroforestry crops, trout, and rabbits.
It is very important that every Cherokee growing operation be represented by the Agriculture Census. The USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture for American Indian Reservations did not have a single entry for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians! Omission in this report does not give justice to the EBCI as the original farmers of the southern Appalachians. Cherokee growers need to participate inorder to be recognized by the USDA in agriculture policy.
If you did not receive a survey by mail, call 1-888-424-7828 and request the “2012 US Census of Agriculture”. If you would like assistance with contacting the USDA or assistance with the form, call Sarah McClellan-Welch at 554-6935, or Kevin Welch at 554-6928. Growers can also call the Agriculture Census hotline with any questions at 1-888-424-7828.
Sarah is the EBCI Agriculture Extension Agent.