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Wolf Administration Reminds Rural and Agriculture Communities that They Count in the 2020 Census

Wolf Administration Reminds Rural and Agriculture Communities that They Count in the 2020 CensusBarry L. Denk Director of Center for Rural Pennsylvania speaks at Flinchbaugh's Orchard & Farm Market. (Credit: Commonwealth Media Services)

YORK, PA — Second Lady of Pennsylvania Gisele Fetterman this week joined Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and other local officials to remind rural Pennsylvanians and those in the agriculture and food industry to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census by April 1.

“It’s critical for all Pennsylvanians to be counted, no matter where you live, what you do for a living, or what language you speak,” said Second Lady Gisele Fetterman. “Rural Pennsylvanians, you matter to me and to the census.”

The Census captures increases, decreases, and changes in community demographics, and is used to decide how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. It also determines the amount of federal funding Pennsylvania can receive for important programs and services, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the National School Lunch Program, Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, Special Education grants, Head Start, highway planning and construction, very low to moderate income housing loans, rural rental assistance payments, and unemployment insurance administration.

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“Accuracy matters in the census just as much as it matters on the farm. Imagine not knowing how many head of livestock you own or how many acres you planted,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “Your participation in this census is absolutely critical to your community. This past year we passed our historic PA Farm Bill to seed growth, innovation and progress; an accurate census count is necessary to sustain and fertilize this investment.”

Through the U.S. Census count, Pennsylvania receives $26.8 billion annually for federally funded programs, amounting to about $2,000 per Pennsylvanian per year. That funding includes six programs targeting rural communities amounting to $760,728,267 (Very Low to Moderate Income Housing Loans: $610,322,282; Rural Electrification Loans and Loan Guarantees: $18,000,000; Water and Waste Disposal Systems for Rural Communities: $54,938,900; Rural Rental Assistance Payments: $33,889,200; Business and Industry Loans $26,410,000; Cooperative Extension Service: $17,167,885).

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Residents can respond to the form by mail, by phone, and for the first time ever, online. Most households will receive their census invitation in the mail by April 1, 2020. Households that are in remote areas or use a P.O. Box will be visited in person by a Census taker. Beginning in April 2020, Census takers will visit college campuses, senior centers, and group homes. In May, the Census Bureau will begin visiting those who have not responded. Population counts will be submitted to the federal government in December 2020.

Residents do not need to be concerned about safety and security, as Census answers can’t be used against an individual, and data security is managed by security experts operating at the highest levels. Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the U.S. Census Bureau cannot release any information that identifies individuals, and anyone who breaks this law faces a fine of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison.

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Your voice matters in shaping Pennsylvania’s future. For more information and resources related to the 2020 U.S. Census, please visit pa.gov/census.

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