SACRAMENTO — Fourteen-hundred California farmers and ranchers will be part of a national sample of producers who will be contacted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its January livestock surveys.

These major surveys will be conducted during the first half of January by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The information gathered will be used to make state, regional, and national estimates of cattle and sheep inventories. Goat producers will be included in the surveys for the first time this year.

Farmers and ranchers selected for the surveys will be notified by letter.

"These surveys are important in providing accurate livestock counts, which provide a basis for an orderly marketing system," said Vic Tolomeo, who heads the California Agricultural Statistics Service. "We are asking for the cooperation of California producers so we can ensure that agriculture in our state is fully represented in the national sample."

In addition to general release to the public and press, the results of these surveys will be available to farm organizations, universities, Extension agents, farm management consultants, agricultural lenders, and businesses that supply input to farmers.

Facts about an individual's farm or ranch are strictly confidential and used only in combination with reports from other producers to produce agricultural statistics for California and the nation.

After results of the surveys are compiled and analyzed in Washington, D.C., the information will be released in a series of reports. Those who participate in the surveys may, upon request, receive a summary of the results for their state.