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The United States has collected data on the nation's agriculture since U.S. marshals inquired about families' agricultural pursuits in 1820.

Over the next 190 years, the census of agriculture grew to reflect changes in American agriculture, including types and uses of machinery, irrigation, and fertilizer. The census of agriculture also incorporated changes and innovations pioneered by other censuses, including the use of electronic tabulation in 1900, statistical sampling in the 1940s, and the collection of Hispanic-origin data beginning in 1978.

Fayette County, WV, Farm
Feeding chickens on a Fayette County, WV, farm in the 1930s.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: March 31, 2014