Wow! Has it been five years already? Yes it’s time for that quinquennial government form. (Yes quinquennial is really a word…. I looked it up) I guess the folks over in Washington D.C. are worried that farmers don’t have enough to do in the good old wintertime so they created this required document for us to play with. I work on it a little bit everyday so I don’t get too pissed off about the questions they ask us. Most of the quinquennial questions (you like that alliteration?) require me to dig into my file cabinet drawers and find answers, which is NOT my favorite way to spend the day. If you saw my file drawers, you would understand.
The quinquennial document, aka 2012 Census of Agriculture, has 23 pages and 37 sections. Some of those sections don’t apply to our farming operation so we can just check NO and move to the next section. We got to skip section 19 titled Colonies of Bees. Thank goodness. It would have taken awhile for me to go out and count each bee (if I had any) and report back. I do have some friends who actually have colonies of bees. Guessing this month would not be a good month to call them up and chat.
We did have to complete Section 29 – Machinery and Equipment. I needed a little help from the husband on the Tractor section. 1. How many tractors less than 40 horsepower (PTO) Exclude garden tractors, 2. How many tractors 40-99 horsepower (PTO) and 3. How many tractors 100 horsepower(PTO) or more. Hey…. we have red and green tractors…. isn’t that all I need to know?
Luckily we only grow three crops: corn, soybeans, and wheat. Because if I had to account for all the emmer and spelt, fescus seed, Lespedesa seed, and triticale, I might have had to hire a consultant to help with the paperwork. Can I deduct that?
Several sections of the census deal with money. This is where my husband gets a little testy. “What the hell do they need to know that for? It’s none of their $%*@ business!” he mumbles as we sit at the kitchen table and try to make sense of it. Section 25 is titled Production Expenses and that’s the one I will probably spend the most time on…There are 18 questions in that section and 15 of them apply to our operation and 15 of them are figures I will have to find by searching through file folders or if I am lucky, by searching through my Quickbooks files. They want to know how much we spent on chemicals, and fertilizer, and seeds, and labor, and repairs, and utilities, and custom work, and fuel.
Obviously, this quinquennial report is pretty important to the folks in Washington, D.C. About a month before the census form arrives, we get a postcard or letter that warns us that it’s coming. (It’s almost as bad as the Publisher’s Clearing House) Then the actual form arrives. A few weeks later, we get another postcard reminding us of the due date. Then after the due date, we get another postcard making sure we really sent it in and hinting that it’s not too late! I’m glad our government has enough money to spend on all that postage and paper. I’m glad that this quinquennial report probably has created high-paying jobs for someone, too. I mean I like to feel like I am doing my part to support my country.
So, here I go, back to work, searching for data and figures. If things are a little quiet around my blog this week, you’ll know why. Just be glad that you only have to complete a Census report decennially.