USDA IS reminding farmers and ranchers of the Feb. 3 deadline for returning their 2002 Census of Agriculture report form.

A large number of report forms have been completed and returned, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, but others have not.

For those who have not completed their report form yet, estimates are acceptable if records are not available. Those who no longer operate a farm or ranch who have received a Census of Agriculture form should return it so they will not be contacted again.

NASS officials note that responding to the census is required by law (Title 7, U.S. Code). Delays increase the cost of the census and cause further mail and personal follow-ups.

You can get help in completing the census report form by calling the toll free number, 888-4AG-STAT. Those with questions about completing the form, or who have not received a form but believe they qualify as a farm or ranch, can call the toll-free number.

Results from previous censuses and hundreds of current agricultural statistics may be found at www.usda.gov/nass/.