Warning: That ‘census taker’ seeking access to your facility might not be one

By Rita Jane Gabbett on 10/24/2019


In several different states, people claiming to be affiliated with the U.S. Census Bureau have been asking to enter livestock and poultry barns, according to Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.’s Chicken Chatter newsletter.


Animal Agriculture Alliance Vice President of Communications Hannah Thompson-Weeman told Meatingplace the organization is aware of reports from broiler, turkey and egg farms in five different states of people showing up saying they are census workers and need to access barns. She said while in one instance the individual actually was a legitimate census taker, the person was misusing their role to try to get into a barn. After all, the census doesn’t count chickens.


As Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. points out, valid census workers should be willing to provide proper identification and should not be entering barns or other biosecure areas. The U.S. Census Bureau website (Census.gov) has information on how to identify a census worker. To further verify the visitor’s identity, facility owners can use the staff directory to find contact information for the individual’s supervisor or contact the regional office.


While none of these individuals has yet been definitively tied to a specific animal activist group, Weeman had this to say about the recent trend: “This latest incident involving “census takers” is just another example to add to a long list of excuses activists will try to use to get into restricted areas with the intention of taking pictures or videos they can take out of context to misrepresent the industry’s commitment to quality animal care. We all need to take the time to implement farm security procedures, including steps to verify the identity and legitimacy of any farm or plant visitor. Employees at all levels (and family members on farms) need to be empowered to question and deny access to anyone they cannot verify.”


Delmarva Poultry Industry suggests: If you cannot verify the identity of a visitor, ask them to leave and contact law enforcement if they do not. Report the incident to the Census Bureau regional office and contact your FBI local field office.