Farmers urged to answer Ag Census

By: 
STEVE ROGERS
Staff Writer

That's all important information for everyone from local story owners to politicians in Jackson and Washington.

And it's why it's important for area farmers, even the smallest row cropper or truck farmer, to fill out the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

The federal government conducts the surveys every five years to get a handle on shifts in agriculture in every county and state in the country to provide information to policy makers, state and local officials and even farm agencies, suppliers and producers.The initial Census forms were mailed to producers last fall. So far, only about 35 percent of the 58,000 questionnaires mailed in Mississippi have been returned. Clay County Extension agent B.J. McClenton and others in the agriculture community are encouraging those who haven't returned their forms to do so or to fill them out online.

According to the last Agriculture Census, the number of farms in Clay County fell from 505 in 2007 to 420 in 2012, but the average size grew from 282 acres to 310 acres. The average value of products sold per farm rose from $159,691 to $219,654. The average net income per farm was $71,066.

Of the 420 operations, farming was the primary occupation of less than half the owners -- 192. A total of 361 were male but 59 were female. The average age was 60.7 years.

Of the farms, 156 reported less than $1,000 in sales. By contrast, six reported sales between $250,000 and $499,000 and 14 reported sales of more than $500,000.

The largest crops by value corn and soybeans which totaled $5,119,000 while catfish was second at $1,368,000.

Anyone with questions can contact McClenton at 662-494-5371 or visit the USDA Web site at www.agcensus.usda.gov.

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