There has been a lot of concern in recent years about agricultural producers having their voice heard by federal regulators.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says that was the catalyst behind the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Agricultural producers are required to complete the census, which was mailed out late last year. But USDA officials say while the response has been good so far, a number of farmers and ranchers have not yet responded to the census call.

Vilsack says the census is only as good as the input provided by producers, and in spite of the 1.4 million census forms returned to date, he believes given an extended deadline, more farmers and ranchers will send back the survey forms to provide an even greater level of input.

For those who missed the deadline, USDA reminds producers that their farm is important and needs to be counted.

“Information from the Census of Agriculture helps USDA monitor trends and better understand the needs in agriculture,” said Vilsack. “Providing industry stakeholders, community leaders, lawmakers and individual farm operators with the most comprehensive and accurate U.S. agricultural reports, we all help ensure the tools are available to make informed, sound decisions to protect the future of American agriculture.”

As such, Vilsack has announced an extension of the census deadline. The original deadline for submitting census forms was Feb. 4, and many farmers and ranchers have responded. However, those who did not respond by the original due date will receive another copy of the form in the mail to give them another opportunity.

“Accurate and comprehensive information from all farmers and ranchers is important so that the census can provide a true picture of U.S. agriculture today and help everyone plan appropriately for future,” said Vilsack.

“This level of information is only gathered and released once every five years, so we need the participation of every producer to ensure the agricultural industry and rural America receive the representation that will provide them with the most benefit and value.”