Ag Survey Mandatory?

Do We Have to Complete and Return the National Agricultural Survey? 011112


(2) Refusal or neglect to answer questions

A person over 18 years of age who refuses or willfully neglects to answer a question, which is authorized by the Secretary to be submitted to the person in connection with a census under this section, shall be fined not more than $100.

From here.



A lot of people have received the 2012 National Agricultural Classification Survey, in preparation for the 2012 Census of Agriculture. 

For many of us, our data is already available if we’ve used USDA funds to achieve projects.  Even so, must we reply to the NACS?

The information included with the survey says “Participation in the …Survey is required by law.”  We found the information inset above, but it isn’t clear if a non-answering person over 18 can be busted for every one of the survey’s 25 questions, meaning it would cost about $2500 a year to refuse to answer the survey.


An article, Here  (Thanks BB) insists we don’t have to answer the questions and encourages ag owners to throw the survey away.  The Prospect simply isn’t sure that such careless disregard of a legal authority of the United States Government might not constitute terrorism, after which they’ll know exactly what you have because they’ll take it away, Old School Fascism Style. 


The official rule of thumb on something like this is “if you haven’t grown anything wrong you have nothing to worry about,” but some folks are just nervous about all the data the government has about our persons and our property already.  Why the hell should they have to know if I have some chickens or not?  The survey even requires an answer if you don’t own land!


If you read the fine print, one section says “include all the farmstead, all cropland, ponds, woodland, pastureland, wasteland and land that is in government programs.”

It’s possible you could leave the chicken coop and garden and maybe even your pot patch out of that one. 


The Prospect spoke to one of our public servants at the USDA about this issue.  We asked, “What will happen if we don’t return the form?”  We were told the terrible consequences: we’ll send you another one.  Can we go to jail, or will we be fined if we don’t fill out the classification survey?  She didn’t know.  If you don’t reply at all, they’ll send the Ag Census survey, which is mandatory to fill out.  What will happen if we throw that away, too?  She didn’t know.  Would they come to the farm and count our goats?  She didn’t know; we noted she didn’t seem to think so, but refused to rule it out.  Why can’t we just fill it out, she wanted to know, after all, it helped the Secretary of Agriculture know what America’s agricultural potential is. 


It’s come to pass that some no longer wish to share so much information with the feds.  If they really want to know what we’re doing, they can simply Google us, and get a fairly recent satellite view of what grows on our land.


We have received federal bucks for some land work, and might eventually have to fill the damn survey out, but until then, we’re training all our livestock and even the kids to head for the woods if a USDA vehicle comes through the gate, or if someone yells “migra!”

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