Census of Agriculture

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Census of Agriculture


a form of statistical survey used to establish data on agricultural production and to study the processes and phenomena taking place in agriculture. Agricultural censuses may cover all basic elements of agricultural production for the country as a whole or in part, or they may survey a particular component, such as livestock. Work on all parts of an agricultural census is conducted simultaneously, according to a uniform program and methodology.

The first general agricultural census in prerevolutionary Russia was made in 1916 to determine the country’s food resources. The second agricultural census, broader in scope, was carried out in the summer and autumn of 1917. Its purposes were to obtain the data necessary for the organization of civilian and military food supply networks and to inventory agricultural lands. The first selective agricultural census in Soviet Russia, based on a sampling fraction of 10 percent, was carried out in 1919. In this census farms were grouped for the years 1917 and 1919 according to area under cultivation, number of workhorses, number of cows, and other characteristics. This survey made it possible to identify the profound changes that had occurred in the economic structure of the mass of peasant farms as the result of the abolition of private land ownership and the adoption of the law on nationalization of the land. The goal of the general agricultural census of 1920 was to obtain information on changes in agriculture that had occurred as a result of the October Revolution of 1917 and the Civil War of 1918–20.

After the 1920 census, sample surveys conclusively replaced comprehensive censuses of agriculture. Between 1921 and 1929, surveys of peasant farms called spring surveys were conducted. Based on sample sizes of 2, 3, 5, and later 10 percent, these censuses were used to obtain data on the basic elements of agricultural production (family composition, size of planted areas, number of livestock, availability of agricultural equipment) at the private peasant farms. The data from sample surveys were extrapolated to the entire mass of peasant farms to obtain general figures. During the years 1922–29 autumn surveys of peasant farms were conducted also. Extrapolating from a 2–3 percent sample, the autumn surveys indicated the size of the agricultural yield.

Each year between 1920 and 1926 and then in 1927 and 1929, cluster surveys of agriculture, covering about 3 percent of all peasant farms, were conducted. The resulting data were used to study socioeconomic processes in the Soviet countryside and the production relationships and class composition of the peasantry. Censuses of the sovkhozes and kolkhozes were conducted in 1928 and 1929, and another census of kolkhozes alone was made in 1930. Census data made it possible to study the progress of collectivization and of the establishment of sovkhozes. These data were used to determine, on the basis of different statute forms, the number of kolkhozes, the number of households incorporated into the kolkhozes, and the size of the kolkhoz population. Agricultural censuses showed the sizes of kolkhozes and sovkhozes and the state of their stocks of producer goods. Census data provided a socioeconomic description of the kolkhozes, indicated the influence of sovkhozes in raising the level of sophistication of farming techniques, and provided specifics on sov-khoz assistance to kolkhozes and other agricultural enterprises.

After the system of record-keeping by the rural soviets and reporting by the kolkhozes and sovkhozes was organized during the period of comprehensive collectivization, the need for general censuses of agriculture disappeared. Only partial censuses of livestock, orchards, vineyards, and the like were conducted. A livestock census, for example, was conducted by the Central Statistical Board in 1932. With the exception of 1939 and 1959, this census has been conducted annually since 1935. Since 1965, stock tally forms have been used. All-Union censuses of fruit and berry plantations were made in 1945, 1952, and 1970, and censuses of vineyards were conducted in 1940, 1947, 1953, and 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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