Make the census count for rural communities

With livestock markets, crop decisions and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic weighing heavily on the minds of farmers and ranchers, you may have put aside an important piece of mail—your 2020 census questionnaire. It’s understandable if other priorities got in the way of completing that task this spring, but it’s vital that you respond to the census by mail, online or by phone.

Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution requires the government to take a census every 10 years for apportionment, or the process of dividing the 435 seats in the House of Representatives among the states based on population counts. Census data is used to determine federal, state and local voting districts too.

The results of the 2020 census are used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding to communities all over the country.

The census also benefits your local community in the following ways:

Hospitals, fire departments, school lunch programs and other important initiatives and services rely on accurate information gathered by the census.

• Population trends and growth projections help business owners make decisions about where to open new stores, restaurants and other businesses and where to recruit employees.

• Census information is used in infrastructure and transportation planning, emergency preparedness, disaster relief, education funding, health tracking and disease control.

Several states in the High Plains Journal coverage area are ranked in the top 10 states for response rates to date, according to the Census Response Rate Map, including Minnesota (64%), Iowa (61.2%), Nebraska (60.7%) and Kansas (58.7%). However, the response rate in many rural areas in the High Plains is still lagging behind that of metropolitan areas—and that could harm rural communities for years to come. For example, if 1% of the Kansas population is not counted in the 2020 census, the state could miss out on about $603,990,400 in federal funding over a 10-year period, according to Kansas Counts.

If you haven’t already done so, complete the census now by calling 844-330-2020 or visiting and clicking “Start Questionnaire.” If you did not receive a questionnaire, select “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.” If you prefer, you may complete and return the paper form you received in the mail.

The 2020 U.S. census marks the 24th time that population has been counted since 1790. Participation in the census is required by law, so census takers will follow up in person this summer with those who have not already responded. Census field operations have been delayed because of COVID-19 concerns, so the more people who self-respond, the fewer home visits census representatives will have to make later.

If you have specific questions about the census and how to respond, visit or call 844-330-2020.

The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to protect your personal information and keep it confidential. Note that the U.S. Census Bureau will not ask for your Social Security number, donations, your political party affiliation, or your bank or credit card numbers. If anyone claiming to represent the Census Bureau asks you for those details, it is a scam.

Let’s make sure the census counts for agriculture and our rural communities. Help spread the word by encouraging your friends and neighbors to take the census too. We can all take part in shaping the future of our communities.

Shauna Rumbaugh can be reached at 620-227-1805 or [email protected].