RICHMOND, Va. — United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service Administrator Hubert Hamer will speak about the upcoming Census of Agriculture on Nov. 11 at 7:30 a.m. at the Virginia State University Small Farm Family Conference at the Holiday Inn, Charlottesville in Ruckersville, Va.
Conducted once every five years, the 2017 Census of Agriculture will be mailed out to every farmer in the United States in a few weeks. It is a complete count of U.S. farms and the people who operate them. The Census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation.
Data from the Census helps to inform smart decision making to make life more efficient for farmers. For example, data from the Census help:
- Shape programs and initiatives that benefit young and beginning farmers;
- Expand access to resources that help women, veteran and minority farmers;
- And help farmers diversify into new markets, including local and regional food systems, specialty crops and organic production.
Land-grant universities like Virginia State University and Cooperative Extension programs like VSU’s Small Farm Outreach Program also use the data to see where small farms are located in the state and build programs to help those farmers grow and diversify their operations.
Representatives of the media are encouraged to attend. Administrator Hamer and VSU Small Farm Outreach Program Director William Crutchfield will be available for interviews following the breakfast Saturday morning. There’s an additional opportunity in advance of the conference on Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon for media to tour VSU’s research and educational farm for pictures, video and a deeper understanding of how census data translates into increased programs and services to farmers.
Saturday will begin with breakfast with Hubert Hamer, then later, lunch with Jason Brown, a former NFL player turned farmer. When Brown signed with the St. Louis Rams, he was the NFL’s highest-paid center. Five years later, he left the NFL and became a farmer.
The conference workshops will cover the practical and business aspects of farming. There will be workshops on: agroforestry, agritourism, aquaculture, cut flowers, drones, equipment for small farms, farm to table, grapes/vineyard production, grazing, growing grain for microbreweries, industrial hemp, irrigation, mushroom growing, pest management, pesticides and herbicides, soil health, sweet potato production, urban agriculture, estate planning/farm transition, how to apply for USDA FSA loans, grant writing, marketing, social media outreach for your farm business and more. Visit the conference page for more details.