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Shutdown Will Delay 5-Year Ag Census

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Feb. 1, 2019, 1:14 p.m. -- This report was revised to update new anticipated release date for the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will not be releasing its five-year national farm census on time.

The USDA’s 2017 Census of Agriculture report was due to be released  on Feb. 21. That was, until the partial government shutdown got in the way.

“[It] is now going to be released on April 11,” says Sue King, public affairs director for the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service, or NASS, which puts out the national farm census every half-decade. She adds that the new date is contingent on whether “we still have funding and remain at work through that time.”

If not, she says, another release date will be considered.

The reason for the delay is the backlog of reports at NASS generated by  month-long shutdown. The USDA in general has a lot of smaller reports to get through before it can release the farm census, including export sales and crop reports.

King says NASS is eager to release the farm census – as are a lot of farmers who responded to the census survey. The farm census dictates much in the way of policy, programs, and funding issues for rural communities.

One other shutdown-borne delay that affects Texas ranchers is NASS’s cattle survey. King says U.S. cattle raisers still have until Feb. 9 to submit their surveys. Barring a new shutdown, NASS wants to release the cattle survey on Feb. 28.

More information on the cattle survey can be found at www.nass.usda.gov.

Scott Morgan has been an award-winning journalist since 2001. His work has appeared in several newspapers and magazines as well as online. He has also been an editor, freelancer, speaker, writing teacher, author, and podcaster.