The 2018 Agriculture Census and What We Can Learn From It


Lauren Lombardi, Writer

  November 28. When people hear this date they probably think of Thanksgiving, or Fall, or that the first semester of school is coming to an end. However over 3.2 million of the United States’ population know it as the day they receive the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Census. While 3.2 million doesn’t seem like much, just about 1% of the United States’ population, it truly is a mighty bunch considering the millions of acres of land and food that they yield. This mandatory census is different from any other taken by the US government because it is the only unbiased agricultural survey in the entire United States. This survey which takes over a year to compile, is sent out every five years to all farmers who sell over $1,000 of food every year. Why should people outside of agriculture careers especially those that live in Marin, a metropolitan area, care? What many don’t know is that there is much more in Marin, and any other county, or state for that matter, than meets the eye.

What The Census Tells Us:

  Who would think that Marin County has over 794 acres of orchards? Or that Fresno county has the most acreage of grapes in California, not Napa or Sonoma? Does anyone know that Marin county has over 50 bee farms? It is not common information. Along with providing people with statistics about the agriculture around them, the National Agricultural Statistics Service show people what percent of the crops grown are organic, and the results are surprising. There are over 2,800 farms in California that are USDA National Organic Program certified that produce over $50,000 worth of crops a year.

Why People Care:

  By law the Department of Agriculture is not allowed to release information about any specific farm, but that should not stop citizens from engaging in more local purchases. Through the census, people can learn that Marin has over 50 bee farms and 794 acres of orchards. No one would believe that Marin had such an agricultural life in it. Looking at the census for not only Marin, but all of the states, shows people the incredible environment in which they live. By comparing the diversity of foods grown in California versus states like Iowa, one can truly appreciate the local farmers markets in California that, every weekend, are full of local fresh fruits and veggies. California has almost 16 million acres of harvested cropland, from both large and small California farms. By reading this census or even browsing through it, one gains an immense gratitude for the cornucopia produced by local farms.

The Next Step:

  So what to does this oft neglected census mean? Consumers must pay attention to where their food is coming from and learn about the environment around them. Maybe instead of going to the grocery store, they should head to the local farmers market and find out what farms are near them. If they are craving some fruit they should find out its growing season and head to the farmers market to pick out the ripest offerings. By looking over the census, communities become aware of where their food comes from, and where much of the United States gets its food from. The idea is for consumers to be conscientious and aware of what their local environment provides for them. Check out this year’s census. You just might learn a thing or two.