June 16, 2006
Many people have contacted us with concerns about a recent survey from the USDA. Below is what we have determined about this survey. It is provided for your information, not as legal advice.
The survey is a “screening” survey in preparation for next year’s census of agriculture. (71 Fed. Reg. 7004.) According to USDA’s personnel, this screening survey is not mandatory. If you choose not to answer this screening survey, there are no penalties. The USDA stated this in a phone call, but has not yet confirmed it in writing.
As for how the USDA got your name and address, the USDA office stated that they found people’s information through agricultural exemptions and breed registrations. For example, if you ever registered a horse, they sent you a survey.
Next year’s mandatory census will apply to anyone with a farm, defined as “any place that produced and sold, or normally would produce and sell, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the census year.” (7 USC section 2204g and 71 Fed. Reg. 7004.) The statute governing the survey states that the information gathered “may not be used for any purpose other than the statistical purposes for which the information is supplied.” (7 USC Section 2204g(f)(3).) If the USDA complies with the statute, your information should not be placed into NAIS.
We will follow up on this issue, in particular the question of whether the information could be used for NAIS purposes, closer to the time of the census.
Judith McGeary Executive Director
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
(866) 687-6452 Toll Free