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                                                       Calendar No. 276
105th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE

 1st Session                                                    105-141
_______________________________________________________________________


 
                 THE CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE ACT OF 1997

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                   COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                               H.R. 2366

 TO TRANSFER TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE THE AUTHORITY TO CONDUCT 
           THE CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES





                November 7, 1997.--Ordered to be printed


                   COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                   FRED THOMPSON, Tennessee, Chairman
SUSAN COLLINS, Maine                 JOHN GLENN, Ohio
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas                CARL LEVIN, Michigan
PETE V. DOMENICI, New Mexico         JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN, Connecticut
THAD COCHRAN, Mississippi            DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii
DON NICKLES, Oklahoma                RICHARD J. DURBIN, Illinois
ARLEN SPECTER, Pennsylvania          ROBERT G. TORRICELLI, New Jersey
BOB SMITH, New Hampshire             MAX CLELAND, Georgia
ROBERT F. BENNETT, Utah
          Hannah S. Sistare, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
             Kristine I. Simmons, Professional Staff Member
                 Leonard Weiss, Minority Staff Director
                    Michal Sue Prosser, Chief Clerk



                            C O N T E N T S

                              ----------                              
                                                                   Page
  I. Summary and Purpose..............................................1
 II. Background.......................................................1
III. Legislative History..............................................2
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................2
  V. Estimated Cost of Legislation....................................4
 VI. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................5
VII. Changes in Existing Law..........................................6



                                                       Calendar No. 276
105th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE

 1st Session                                                    105-141
_______________________________________________________________________


                 THE CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE ACT OF 1997

                                _______
                                

                November 7, 1997.--Ordered to be printed

_______________________________________________________________________


Mr. Thompson, from the Committee on Governmental Affairs, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2366]

    The Committee on Governmental Affairs, to which was 
referred the bill (H.R. 2366) to transfer to the Secretary of 
Agriculture the authority to conduct the census of agriculture, 
and for other purposes, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that the 
bill do pass.

                         I. Summary and Purpose

    H.R. 2366, the Census of Agriculture Act of 1997, transfers 
the authority to take the Census of Agriculture from the 
Secretary of Commerce to the Secretary of Agriculture.

                             II. Background

    Since 1840, the Census of Agriculture has been taken by the 
Census Bureau. From 1840 until 1920, the Census of Agriculture 
was conducted once every ten years. From 1920 through 1992, it 
has been conducted at five-year intervals. (To coordinate the 
schedule for the Census of Agriculture with economic censuses, 
it was conducted on a four-year cycle in 1978 and 1982.) Census 
data collected from the Census of Agriculture provide the only 
source of consistent, county level statistics on agriculture 
operations throughout the United States. These data are used to 
prepare estimates of farm income and production costs, 
calculate research and extension formula allocations to land 
grant universities, evaluate agricultural programs and 
policies, administer farm programs, and plan for operations 
during disease or pest emergencies. The Farm Credit 
Administration also uses the data to evaluate farmer loan 
programs.
    The census is also intended to assist Congress in 
considering legislation, and in overseeing farm programs. The 
number of farms, a major piece of data resulting from the 
census, is taken into account in the allocation of funding for 
several USDA programs.
    Data collected from the Census of Agriculture are also used 
by state and local governments and farm organizations to 
analyze and develop policies on land use, water use and 
irrigation, rural development, and farmland assessment. Rural 
electric companies use such statistics to forecast future 
energy needs.
    With the support of the Departments of Agriculture and 
Commerce and the Office of Management and Budget, the 1997 
Agriculture Appropriations bill transferred funding for the 
Census of Agriculture from the Commerce Department to the USDA. 
Funding for the census has been included in the fiscal year 
1998 Agriculture Appropriations bill as well. H.R. 2366 
completes this transfer of authority. Without a transfer of 
authority, USDA will have to rely on the Census Bureau for 
certain steps in the process. Furthermore, granting to the USDA 
the authority to conduct the Census of Agriculture would be in 
keeping with data collection and dissemination duties already 
undertaken by the Department.

                        III. Legislative History

    H.R. 2366 was introduced in the House by Rep. Stenholm (D-
TX) on July 31, 1997. This bill is the result of discussions 
between the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, the Senate 
Committee on Governmental Affairs, the Senate Committee on 
Agriculture, the House Committee on Government Reform and 
Oversight, and the House Committee on Agriculture. A similar 
bill, S. 845 (also titled the Census of Agriculture Act of 
1977), was introduced in the Senate by Senator Lugar (R-IN) on 
June 5, 1997.
    H.R. 2366 was reported favorably by the House Committee on 
Agriculture on September 24, 1997 and passed the House under 
suspension of the rules on October 21, 1997. The House 
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight discharged H.R. 
2366 on October 1, 1997.
    The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs considered 
H.R. 2366 on November 5, 1997 and ordered it reported, without 
amendment, by voice vote.

                    IV. Section-By-Section Analysis

                          Sec. 1. Short title

    This Act may be cited as the ``Census of Agriculture Act of 
1997''.

Sec. 2. Authority of the Secretary of Agriculture to Conduct Census of 
                              Agriculture

    (a) Census of Agriculture Required. This subsection 
requires the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a census of 
agriculture beginning in 1998, and every fifth year thereafter.
    (b) Methods. This subsection permits the Secretary of 
Agriculture to conduct any survey or collect other information 
in connection with the census, and to employ any sampling or 
other statistical method, as the Secretary of Agriculture deems 
appropriate.
    (c) Year of Information. The information collected in each 
census under this section shall relate to the year immediately 
preceding the year the census is taken.
    (d) Enforcement. This subsection establishes penalties for 
those who fail to comply with authorized census questions, but 
exempts certain information (social security number and 
religious affiliation) from disclosure. Paragraph (1) states 
that a person over the age of 18 years who willfully gives 
false information relating to a question authorized by the 
Secretary of Agriculture to be submitted in a census shall be 
fined not more than $500. Paragraph (2) provides that a person 
over 18 years of age who refuses or willfully neglects to 
answer a question authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture in 
connection with a census shall be fined not more than $100. 
Paragraph (3) states that the withholding of a person's social 
security number in connection with a census is not a violation 
of this subsection. Paragraph (4) provides that notwithstanding 
any other provision of this section, no person shall be 
compelled to disclose information relative to that person's 
religious beliefs or affiliation with a religious entity.
    (e) Geographic Coverage. This subsection states that the 
scope of a census shall include: (1) each of the several States 
of the U.S.; (2) as determined appropriate by the Secretary of 
Agriculture, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of 
Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands, the 
United States Virgin Islands, and Guam; and (3) with the 
concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary 
of State, any other possession or area over which the U.S. 
exercises control, jurisdiction, or sovereignty.
    (f) Cooperation with the Secretary of Commerce. Paragraph 
(1) provides that on a written request by the Secretary of 
Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce may provide to the 
Secretary of Agriculture any information collected under title 
13 of the U.S. Code that the Secretary of Agriculture considers 
necessary for the taking of a census or survey. Similarly, 
paragraph (2) provides that on a written request by the 
Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Agriculture may provide 
information to the Secretary of Commerce that was collected 
under this section that the Secretary of Commerce considers 
necessary for taking a census or survey under title 13 of the 
U.S. Code. Paragraph (3) states that information obtained 
pursuant to this subsection may not be used for any purpose 
other than the statistical purposes for which the information 
is furnished. For purposes of sections 9 and 214 of title 13 of 
the U.S. Code, any information provided under paragraph (2) 
will be considered as furnished under title 13 of the U.S. 
Code.
    (g) Regulations. This subsection authorizes the Secretaries 
of Agriculture and Commerce to issue regulations necessary to 
carry out this section, to the extent that the regulation 
concerns a matter under their jurisdiction, by the respective 
Secretary involved.

                sec. 3. repeal of superseded provisions

    This section amends and repeals portions of title 13, 
United States Code and portions of title 7, United States Code.
    (a) Repeal. This subsection repeals Section 142 of title 
13, United States Code which had assigned to the Secretary of 
Commerce the duties relating to the taking of a census of 
agriculture which are assigned to the Secretary of Agriculture 
by section 2 of this Act.
    (b) Clerical Amendments. This subsection makes clerical 
amendments to Subchapter II of chapter 5 of title 13, United 
States Code in paragraph (1) of the Act by striking the 
existing subheading and replacing it with a new subheading 
entitled ``SUBCHAPTER II--POPULATION, HOUSING AND 
UNEMPLOYMENT.'' Paragraph (2) amends the analysis included in 
chapter 5 of title 13, United States Code by deleting the 
reference to section 142 repealed by subsection (a) of Section 
3 of this Act, and by striking the reference to the existing 
heading for subchapter II and inserting the new subchapter 
heading added by subsection (b)(1) of this section.
    (c) Cross Reference. This subsection amends section 
343(a)(11)(F) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development 
Act by striking the reference to section 142 of title 13, 
United States Code,which had required the Secretary of Commerce 
to conduct a national census of agriculture.
    (d) Effective Date. This subsection makes the effective 
date of this section of the Act October 1, 1998.

                 SEC. 4. CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION

    This section makes technical changes to title 13, United 
States Code and the Food Security Act of 1985, title 7, United 
States Code.
    (a) Information Provided to Secretary of Agriculture. 
Paragraph (1) of this subsection grants the Secretary of 
Commerce the authority to provide information to the Secretary 
of Agriculture pursuant to section 2(f) of this Act. Paragraph 
(2) amends section 1770(d) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (7 
U.S.C. 2276(d)) by adding a new paragraph, (10), which includes 
section (2) of this Act as a provision of law covered by the 
provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985 limiting the 
disclosure of information.
    (b) Information provided to Secretary of Commerce. This 
subsection amends section 1770 of the Food Security Act of 1985 
(7 U.S.C. 2276) by adding a new subsection (e), which specifies 
that the prohibitions on the disclosure of information 
contained in the Food Security Act of 1985 do not prohibit the 
Secretary of Agriculture from releasing information gathered 
under section 2(f)(2) of this Act to the Secretary of Commerce.

                    V. Estimated Cost of Legislation

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, November 5, 1997.
Hon. Fred D. Thompson,
Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2366, the Census 
of Agriculture Act of 1997.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Dave Hull 
and Rachel Forward.
            Sincerely,
                                         June E. O'Neill, Director.

               CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

H.R. 2366--Census of Agriculture Act of 1997

    The Congressional Budget Office has reviewed H.R. 2366, the 
Census of Agriculture Act of 1997, as ordered reported by the 
Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs on November 5, 1997. 
CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2366 would have no significant 
budgetary impact. Because H.R. 2366 would not affect direct 
spending or receipts, pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply.
    In addition, H.R. 2366 contains no private-sector or 
intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act of 1995 and would not affect the budgets of state, 
local, or tribal governments.
    The census of agriculture is a periodic census providing 
comprehensive data on the agricultural economy, such as the 
number, value, and size of farms, the value of production, and 
characteristics of farms and farm operators. In the past, the 
census of agriculture was conducted by the Department of 
Commerce, but appropriations were provided and personnel were 
transferred for this purpose to the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture starting in fiscal year 1997. The act would require 
the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a census of agriculture 
in 1998 and in every fifth year thereafter, and would provide 
for facilitating changes, such as the sharing of information 
between the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of 
Agriculture. Because H.R. 2366 would not affect the frequency 
and scope of the census, it would have no significant effect on 
the cost of conducting it.
    On October 1, 1997, CBO prepared an estimate of an 
identical version of H.R. 2366, as ordered reported by the 
House Committee on Agriculture. The estimate is unchanged.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Dave Hull and 
Rachel Forward. The estimate was approved by Paul N. Van de 
Water, Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                  VI. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory and paperwork impact of H.R. 2366, as 
well as the impact of the bill on personal privacy. The effect 
of the bill is to transfer existing authority for conducting 
the Census of Agriculture from the Department of Commerce to 
the Department of Agriculture. The bill does not create new 
regulatory and paperwork impacts or additional impacts on the 
privacy of individuals. The bill will have no significant 
impact on paperwork or individual privacy beyond those imposed 
by existing law.

       VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

                      TITLE 13, UNITED STATES CODE

          * * * * * * *

                       CHAPTER 1--ADMINISTRATION

                    Subchapter I--General Provisions

          * * * * * * *
    9. Information as confidential; exception
    (a) Neither the Secretary, nor any other officer or 
employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency 
thereof, or local government census liaison, may, except as 
provided in section 8 or 16 or chapter 10 of this title or 
section 2(f) of the Census of Agriculture Act of 1997--
    (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *

                          CHAPTER 5--CENSUSES

          * * * * * * *

   [Subchapter II--Population, Housing, Agriculture, Irrigation, and 
                             Unemployment]

          Subchapter II--Population, Housing, and Unemployment

          * * * * * * *
[142. Agriculture and irrigation.]
          * * * * * * *

   [Subchapter II--Population, Housing, Agriculture, Irrigation, and 
                             Unemployment]

          Subchapter II--Population, Housing, and Unemployment

          * * * * * * *

[142. Agriculture and irrigation

    [(a) The Secretary shall in 1979, in 1983, and in every 
fifth year beginning after 1983, take a census of agriculture.
    [(b) In conjunction with the census to be taken under 
subsection (a) of this section in 1979, in 1988, and every 
tenth year beginning after 1988, the Secretary shall take a 
census of irrigation and.
    [(c) The data collected in each of the censuses taken under 
this section shall relate to the year immediately preceding the 
year in which such census is taken.]
          * * * * * * *

     SECTION 343 OF THE CONSOLIDATED FARM AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT ACT

    Sec. 343. (a) As used in this title:
          (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (11) The term ``qualified beginning farmer or 
        rancher'' means an applicant, regardless of whether the 
        applicant is participating in a program under section 
        310E--
                  (A) * * *
          * * * * * * *
                  (F) who does not own land or who, directly or 
                through interests in family farm corporations, 
                owns land, the aggregate acreage of which does 
                not exceed 25 percent of the median acreage of 
                the farms or ranches, as the case may be, in 
                the county in which the farm or ranch 
                operations of the applicant are located, as 
                reported in the most recent census of 
                agriculture [taken under section 142 of title 
                13, United States Code], except that this 
                subparagraph shall not apply to a loan made or 
                guaranteed under subtitle B; and
          * * * * * * *
                              ----------                              


             SECTION 1770 OF THE FOOD SECURITY ACT OF 1985

                     confidentiality of information

    Sec. 1770. (a) * * *
          * * * * * * *
    (d) For purposes of this section, a provision of law 
referred to in this subsection means--
          (1) * * *
          * * * * * * *
          (8) section 4 of the Act entitled ``an Act to 
        establish the Department of Commerce and Labor'', 
        approved February 14, 1903 (15 U.S.C. 1516); [or]
          (9) section 2 of the joint resolution entitled 
        ``Joint resolution relating to the publication of 
        economic and social statistics for Americans of Spanish 
        origin or descent'', approved June 16, 1976 (15 U.S.C. 
        1516a)[.] ; or
          (10) section 2 of the Census of Agriculture Act of 
        1997.
    (e) Information Provided to Secretary of Commerce.--This 
section shall not prohibit the release of information under 
section 2(f)(2) of the Census of Agriculture Act of 1997.