Aquaculture is an important segment of the Virginia industry of agriculture, but with statistics nearly a decade old, it’s not always easy to see just how aquaculture stacks up with other agricultural products. “That’s why we are excited that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is conducting the 2013 Census of Aquaculture,” said Matthew J. Lohr, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“The Census is the only comprehensive source of information on the aquaculture industry in Virginia and the United States and serves as the foundation for many decisions involving the sustainability and growth of the aquaculture sector,” Lohr said.
“The aquaculture industry has undergone numerous changes since the last time this information was gathered in 2005,” said Herman Ellison, State Statistician with NASS. “The results of the 2013 Census of Aquaculture will help assess the current state of this part of the U.S. economy and Virginia’s economy – helping the industry demonstrate its strength and advocate for its needs.”
The Census of Aquaculture collects data on water area, production and sales, point of first sales outlets and aquaculture distributed for restoration or conservation purposes. This information is used by all those with interest in the aquaculture sector from federal, state and local governments to agribusinesses, trade associations, researchers and producers themselves. For example, businesses and suppliers use the information to determine the locations of facilities that will serve growers and plan for the production and marketing of new products.
Producers’ answers to the Aquaculture Census will help shape national and local policies affecting Virginia’s aquaculture industry. They are the only ones who can supply the answers needed to produce a useful and accurate picture of this important agriculture sector.
“I encourage all aquaculture producers to do their part and respond when they receive their form,” Lohr added.
NASS will mail out Aquaculture Census forms in mid-December to collect data for the 2013 calendar year. Completed forms are due by January 15, 2014. Producers can fill out the Census online via a secure website, or return their form by mail.