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The 2021 agricultural census

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Agricultural Census Defra Future Farming Blog

The Census of Agriculture for England is now open to all commercial farms in England.  

The census has existed in various forms for over 150 years. As it stands, we run them every 10 years, alongside an annual sample survey. 

The census is really important. It provides us with the data we need to agree industry priorities, make the right decisions on investment and design policies which meet the needs of our farmers.  

It also allows us to monitor changes over the longer term. For example, environmental changes. This enables us to better identify trends and spot issues. It complements our day-to-day conversations with farmers.  

We’re sending the census to all active commercial farms in England, either by email or paper form. Just like the National Census, completion is mandatory. We encourage all farmers to respond within 2 weeks.  

The more responses we get, the better informed we are to support the industry in the future.  

The 2021 census is designed to capture detailed information on land use, crop areas, livestock numbers and the labour force on farms. This census will gather data on: 

Labour: includes number of principal farmers, managers, regular and casual workers plus age, sex of principal holders and managers, and time spent on farm work. This data builds a profile of the agricultural workforce and how it is has changed over time. The labour volumes are also used in other calculations such as farm income statistics. 

Land use and crops areas: data on crop areas, both arable and horticultural, will be used to monitor the long-term trends in cropping and to assess the impact of farm practises. The data will also enable us to assess farm activities, such as how upland activities compare to the lowlands in England and, when combined with data from the organic certifier bodies help evaluate organic farming in England. The crop areas, combined with yield data, provide harvest estimates that are used by the cereals industry to monitor grain availability throughout the year. 

Livestock: census data will help us monitor changes in livestock populations over time. Livestock distributions across the country also help assess the risk of veterinary disease and to control outbreaks.  

Complete the census 

Email invites were sent on 27 May to arrive before the May bank holiday. Paper forms were sent out on the 28th via 2nd class post, so they should arrive this week, but delivery does vary by region. 

If you are expecting an email or a form and haven’t received it, call our helpline number at the bottom of this post.

If you need help completing the survey our helpline is available from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday. Please phone 03000 600 140 or email 

The results of the survey will be published on GOV.UK. We will also blog about our analysis of the data later this year.   

Learn more about the census and agricultural surveys on GOV.UK.

An update: due to significant volumes of calls and e-mails, it is taking longer to respond than normal. We want to let you know that we are working through your messages as quickly as possible and we will respond. Thank you for your patience.


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  1. Comment by peter cox posted on

    I agree with all that DEFRA is doing with this Agricultural census

  2. Comment by peter cox posted on


  3. Comment by antony posted on

    if the envelope is lost where do we send it??????

    • Replies to antony>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Antony,

      If you give the Defra surveys helpline team a call, they will be able to assist you. The number is 03000 600 140. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm.

      Best wishes,

  4. Comment by peter mowland posted on

    i did not get the email requesting a survey 42/134/0010

    • Replies to peter mowland>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Peter,

      If you give my colleagues on the surveys team a call, they should be able to help you. Their number is is 03000 600 140. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm.

      Best wishes,

  5. Comment by Alan horn posted on

    We sent our paper copy in way before the deadline and have been sent a chaser notice . We have rung the helpline number to see if it has been received and Left a message no response .
    Can someone please contact us on the email below so we can sort this out

    • Replies to Alan horn>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Alan,

      I've just sent an email to you and copied in my colleague Helen who will be able to confirm whether it's been received.

      Best wishes,


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