In advance of the census of agriculture, a content test is conducted to test procedures, systems and the report form(s) used to collect the data. During the 2005 Census Content Test two proposed versions of the 2007 report forms were tested. The two forms differed in format and number of pages. One version of the form similar to that used in the past was 24 pages long and had more extensive instructions and more information pre-printed on the form. A shorter twelve page form reordered and combined some questions, required respondents to write in more information and had less room for recording information. Both forms, however, collected the same information (with a few minor exceptions). The intent of the short form was to increase response and reduce the burden of reporting for operations which produce few commodities or have very simple operating arrangements. While intended for different types of operations in the 2007 Census, a split sample in the 2005 Content Test provided a rare opportunity to directly compare forms collecting the same data but with differences in page length and format. Contrary to expectations, the shorter form did not increase the response rate. In addition, the quality of the data provided on the short form was lower in several key areas. Additional insights regarding differences between the forms were also gained from follow up interviews with a subset of respondents. Based on these results, recommendations for changes and use of the forms were made for the 2007 Census of Agriculture.


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