Census of Agriculture: Lesson Plans

Instructional materials, specific to grade level, have been created to educate current and potential future agricultural producers about the importance and usefulness of "timely, accurate and useful" agricultural statistics.

Click the hyperlink title of each lesson plan to access a PDF version for download.

Grades K-3 - The Great Food Mystery...the Story of Agriculture (PDF)

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Define agriculture.
  2. Explain the role of a farmer and their farm in your everyday life.
  3. Identify reasons for counting agricultural products.

Content Outline

  1. What is Agriculture?
    1. The production of food, fiber, bio-fuels and shelter
  2. How are farmers and their farms important to your life?
    1. Farm – the place where crops and livestock are raised
    2. Farmer – A person who runs a farm
    3. What do farmers produce? – Plants and animals used to make food, clothing, bio-fuels and shelter.
  3. Why do we count agriculture products?
    1. To gather information about agriculture
    2. The information is used to make policy, educate and show the importance of agriculture

Grades 4 - 6 - How Agriculture Counts (PDF)

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the census of agriculture.
  2. Chart agricultural commodities.
  3. Discuss agriculture’s impact based on statistics.

Content Outline

  1. What is the census of agriculture?
    1. Census - a complete count of the population
    2. Farm - the place where crops and livestock are raised
    3. Agriculture Census - A complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them that is taken every five years.
      • The Census of Agriculture provides the only source of agriculture data for every county and state in the nation.
      • The data is used by all who serve farmers and rural communities including government agencies, agribusinesses and trade associations.
      • The data is collected by report forms which are sent to farm and ranch operators.
  2. How do I chart agriculture commodities?
    1. Charting agriculture data from a chart onto a bar graph.
  3. Does agriculture impact me?
    1. Interpreting the census of agriculture graphs and charts.

Grades 7 - 8 - Discovering the Census (PDF)

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Recognize the purpose of the Census of Agriculture.
  2. Evaluate subsets of a population.
  3. Discover new trends in population subsets based on NASS statistics.

Content Outline

  1. Recognize the purpose of the Census of Agriculture.
    1. What is the Census of Agriculture?
      1. The Census of Agriculture is a complete count, taken every five years, of America’s farms and ranches and the people who operate them.
      2. It is the most complete agricultural data resource available, providing the only source of uniform, comprehensive information about each county in the nation.
      3. The Census of Agriculture provides information on land use and ownership, operator characteristics,
    2. Why does the Census of Agriculture exist?
      1. Helps the government understand how different parts of the agricultural economy are performing.
      2. Allows farmers and ranchers, businesses and government a place to access data about agriculture.
      3. Serves as a data base and resource for evaluating production agriculture
    3. What are the uses of the information collected in the Census of Agriculture?
      1. USDA uses it to determine programs and personnel to place in agriculture communities.
      2. Companies and cooperatives use the information to determine how to best serve agriculture families.
      3. Farmers and ranchers can use it to help make decisions about the future of their operations.
  2. Evaluate subsets of a population.
    1. Define subsets of a population.
    2. Discuss differences in subsets.
  3. Discover new trends in population subsets based on NASS statistics.
    1. What are trends?
    2. Using data, find new trends in population subsets dealing with agriculture comparing data from 1978 through 2007.

Grades 9 - 12 - Value of Statistics in the Ag Industry (PDF)

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the usefulness of statistics in the agriculture industry.
  2. Discover how NASS collects data.
  3. Anticipate a time when agricultural statistics would be of value in your life.

Content Outline

  1. Describe the usefulness of statistics in the agriculture industry.
    1. What are statistics?
    2. 10 Ways to use Agriculture Statistics
    3. Relate uses of agriculture statistics to community decisions
  2. Discover NASS’s data collection process.
    1. NASS decides what content is needed, considering all the needs of data users.
    2. NASS decides what is a reasonable amount of questions to ask farmers.
    3. NASS designs a questionnaire.
    4. NASS mails the questionnaire (to 3 million places).
    5. NASS receives the forms back in the mail, and edits the questionnaires for consistency and completeness.
    6. If a form is not received back in the mail, enumerators (definition should be supplied to students) start calling people who received a form.
    7. If calling places does not succeed, an enumerator may be sent to the farm or ranch to obtain data if a response is needed from a particular operation.
    8. NASS summarizes the data which will be published so no farm’s individual data can be obtained (maintains respondents’ confidentiality).
  3. Investigate where to find agriculture statistics.
    1. Research the information available at the NASS website.
  4. Anticipate a time when agricultural statistics would be of value in your life.
    1. What value would agricultural statistics have on you as a non-agriculturalist?
    2. What value would agricultural statistics have on you as an agriculturalist?
    3. Predict some examples of when agricultural statistics would be important.

Grades 9 - 12 - What does the data tell us? (PDF)

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Interpret agricultural data.
  2. Diagram farm size and economic profit.
  3. Evaluate diversity among farmers.

Content Outline

  1. Interpret agricultural data.
    1. What is the Census of Agriculture?
    2. Uses of census data
  2. Diagram farm size and economic profit.
    1. Evaluate data.
    2. Discuss net cash farm income of operations verse other variables
    3. Create graph based on data.
  3. Evaluate diversity among farmers.
    1. Compare U.S. farmer operator ages.
      1. What age category has the largest number of farm operators?
      2. What commodities are more popular with different age categories?

Grades 9 - 12 - Discovering local statistics (PDF)

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Use the National Agricultural Statistical Services website.
  2. Examine your state’s agricultural statistics.
  3. Formulate a report focused around your county’s statistics.

Content Outline

  1. Use the National Agricultural Statistical Services website.
    1. Introduction to http://www.nass.usda.gov/
    2. National Agricultural Statistical Services website search
  2. Examine your state’s agricultural statistics.
    1. State Agriculture Overview
  3. Formulate a report focused around your county’s statistics.
    1. 2007 Census of Agriculture County Profiles