2016 Census of Agriculture benefits farmers

Posted on April 20, 2016

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The Census of Agriculture is on the horizon. In early May, producers will receive a letter with easy to follow instructions on how to complete the questionnaire. 

Census of Agriculture data are the definitive source of community-level data. By drawing on these data, decision makers will be assured that they are acting in the interest of farmers, farm communities and agricultural operations.

Farm organizations are heavy users of census data and draw on this information to formulate policy recommendations, produce communications and outreach work, and conduct market development.

Regional, provincial and federal government policy advisors use Census of Agriculture data to help develop programs related to farm support and to evaluate the impact of natural disasters (such as floods, droughts and storms) on agriculture. This allows for a quick reaction when a natural disaster does occur.

How do farmers benefit?

While farm operators are legally required to participate under the Statistics Act, they also benefit from the census.

When an agricultural operator fills out and sends back his or her census questionnaire, it adds another voice to the quarter of a million answers that are reflected in census data. In combination they provide the only definitive statistical picture of Canada's farm sector available to farmers' own organizations and to agriculture policy-makers. The media also interpret census data, bringing current issues to the forefront of public attention.

Although there are other agriculture surveys, only the Census of Agriculture gives data at the local level. Its community-level data ensure that the issues affecting farmers, farm communities and agricultural operations are included when making decisions that affect them and their livelihood.

Operators can use census data to make production, marketing and investment decisions. Producer groups and marketing agencies use census data in their non-government organizations to tell Canadians and government how they are doing economically.

Companies supplying agricultural products and services use the data to determine locations for their service centres.

Government policy advisors use the data to help develop programs related to safety nets and agricultural workers for the agriculture sector.

Operators can keep abreast of trends through the analysis of Census of Agriculture data published by the agriculture media.

Agriculture websites can target their information based on current trends and needs in the sector identified by census data.

Governments and farm organizations use census data to evaluate the impact of natural disasters on agriculture (such as floods, drought and storms) and react quickly.

The Census of Agriculture: 
• Identifies trends and provides factual information on emerging issues, opportunities and challenges within the agricultural community.
• Questions cover a wide range of topics, such as land use, crops, livestock, agricultural labour, machinery and equipment, land management practices, and farm finances.

The Census can be completed by anyone who is responsible for, or knowledgeable about, the day-to-day management decisions of a farming operation. As required by the Statistics Act, the information provided will be kept confidential and used only for statistical purposes. 

Important changes made to the online questionnaire for 2016:
• Streamlined and easy to complete 
• Shorter and 30% faster to complete than in 2011
• Respondents are no longer required to provide detailed farm expenses
• Automatically adds totals and skips questions that don’t apply to your operation.

Completing the questionnaire online is quick and easy:
• Go to Statistics Canada’s website at www.statcan.gc.ca and select the online questionnaire
• In May, farmers will receive a secure access code in the mail which will be needed to complete the questionnaire.

Support your community and complete your Census of Agriculture questionnaire in May 2016!

Ag Census FAQs
This information was provided by Statistics Canada