USDA CONDUCTS SURVEY TO DETERMINE SIZE OF ALABAMA'S GOAT AND SHEEP INDUSTRY
USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will be conducting a survey of sheep and goat producers Nationwide beginning late December and continuing through mid-January. The Alabama Statistical Office, a field office of NASS, will be coordinating the survey in Alabama.
This will be the first survey to capture goat statistics on an annual basis. Every five years, the Census of Agriculture collects inventory numbers and sales of goats along with many other livestock and crop statistics. According to the 2002 Census, Alabama goat inventory numbers increased dramatically since the previous census was taken in 1997. From 1997 to 2002, the number of goats on farms increased 44 percent to over 50,000 head statewide. The number of goats sold during the same period increased 56 percent. Total sales of sheep, goats, and products in Alabama was over $1.5 million in 2002, according to the census.
Perry Mobley, Director of the Alabama Farmer's Federation Sheep and Meat Goat Division, encourages all producers to cooperate on the survey. "This is a golden opportunity for goat and sheep producers to arrive at a more accurate assessment of the impact of their industries on the state's and nation's economies. This could mean a great deal to the sheep and goat industries in the future in terms of available research dollars and federal programs. I encourage all sheep and goat producers to take part in the survey."
Herb Vanderberry, Director of the Alabama Statistics Office, stated that current and accurate numbers on the goat industry are vital for producers and the organizations that represent them. "We have seen a huge increase in goat numbers in Alabama over the past 10 years. However, with the size and scope of the industry today, producer organizations, university specialists, elected officials and many others are interested in current, more detailed information. This survey will establish an annual series of basic information on goats, as well as sheep, in Alabama and the U.S."
A sample of 355 sheep and goat producers in Alabama will be mailed the survey on December 28. Some contacts may be made by telephone or personal interview. The results will be available on January 28. Vanderberry says that it is important for every producer that receives the survey to respond. Each of the sampled farms will represent about 6 others that were not selected, so every report is critical to arrive at accurate numbers. He added that all information collected will be held strictly confidential, by law. Individual farm information will be added together with other reports to arrive at state and national totals.