nobody can afford to count anymore
Government Counting Sheep? Now, Only in Its Dreams
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
Last year, Wisconsin led the nation in mink farming, producing 833,430 pelts. Texas was the undisputed king of pansies, growing 1.8 million flats of the flowers. And no state harvested more hops than Washington, with 24,336 acres.
This year? Who knows? The government has stopped counting.
Forced to cut its budget, the Agriculture Department has decided to eliminate dozens of reports, including the annual goat census (current population: three million), and the number of catfish on the nation’s fish farms (177 million, not counting the small fry).
Which raises an existential question: If the government stops counting catfish, do catfish farmers no longer count?
“We’ll just disappear,” said Jerry Nobile, who raises catfish in Moorhead, Miss.
The decision, announced last month, to stop measuring various categories of agricultural products reflects a cold-blooded assessment of the economic usefulness of the 500 or so reports that the National Agriculture Statistics Service does every year. Corn, soybeans, cotton and other major commodities vital to the national economy will still be weighed, inventoried and otherwise tallied down to the last acre, bushel or bale. The same is true for cattle, pigs and poultry.
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