Help NBA get the Barn Question back in the Ag Census!

Dear Barn Preservationist:

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is soliciting suggestions for changes to the Census of Agriculture. All submissions are time sensitive and must be received no later than September 30, 2014.  Please help the NBA by lobbying the USDA using the following link to their public comment form!  Each Comment Form asks for a name, address, email address and your affiliation.  Please feel free to note an affiliation with the National Barn Alliance to show your support for historic barns!


If you aren’t sure what to say, please feel free to cut and paste the text we have supplied below:

What new or additional information is needed?

For the first time in the history of the Census, the 2007 Census of Agriculture counted farms that had a barn 50 years or older. Unfortunately the 2012 Census of Agriculture did not have the barn question in it. We are advocating for the re-introduction of the question in the 2017 Census so that we can continue to monitor the numbers of farms that have an old barn on them and compare the new data to the 2007 Census. Please put the “Barn Question” back into the 2017 Census of Agriculture.


Why is the information needed?

Our nation’s old historic barns are an important and irreplaceable historic resources on our landscape. We need to know how many there are and then determine their condition in order to develop programs to support their rehabilitation and re-use. In order to know how many there are, we need to count them. The USDA can and should be a part of this process of documenting the old barns on farms.

We believe that it is important to bring back the same question found on the 2007 Census of Agriculture and count the number of farms that have a barn 50 years or older across the USA.  Fifty years is the threshold of age for beginning to consider a building’s historical contributions to the past according to federal standards established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended.  Consider that at the height of family farms in America, over 26 million farms dotted the American landscape.  Most had at least one historic barn.  By the 2007 Census of Agriculture we had around 2 million farms and many did not have an old barn on them.  The 2007 Census of Agriculture counted just over 650,000 farms with at least one older barn on it. The data was invaluable!


At what level is the information needed? (U.S., state, county)

At the national and state levels and on all questionnaires the USDA disseminates.


Who will use the information?

The American public, the National Barn Alliance, the 50 State Historic Preservation Offices, countless non-profit preservation organizations (statewide, regional, county, and local preservation advocacy organizations as well as barn preservation organizations, farmland, and rural conservation organizations across the country).  And don’t forget about future researchers interested in America’s agricultural past!