In recent years there has been a significant increase in the demand for statistical information, economic, social and environmental, of the many and varied domains of agriculture. The demand for traditional commodity data sets remains high, as the economy develops and the international position becomes more competitive. Commodity data at the national, state and regional/small area levels provide a base set of data which is useful both in its own right and as part of the 'industry demographics' for a region, industry, or community. As well, the availability and accessibility of good quality statistical information is an integral part of the policy design and evaluation process; the development of research agendas; and the decision making processes of governments, organisations and communities. As policy and research agenda change, so too does the demand for statistical information.
This information paper, ABS Agriculture Statistics Strategy - 2008-09 and beyond, is the first of a series of three papers, which has been developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) Land and Agriculture Statistics Section. It is based on a shared understanding of the key agricultural policy issue imperatives and areas of priority for statistical data development. It outlines proposed changes to the ABS Agricultural Survey program aimed at improving the statistical information base relevant to these priority areas.
Responses provided from consultations to date indicate that the identification of the priority areas is consistent with government policy directions. However, although the proposed survey program attempts to meet clients' needs, substantial additional funding is required if the ABS is to match the content and frequency required to inform the development of appropriate policy interventions.
The proposed survey program presented for discussion in this paper assumes a level of ABS funding that will allow the ABS to continue to run a survey program similar in size to the one that has been conducted over recent years. It is recognised that this proposed program still leaves many remaining priorities that are unable to be satisfied, principally because of budget constraints and provider load concerns.
Feedback and information obtained from stakeholders to date have assisted in the preparation and development of the agriculture statistics strategy. A second paper will be available shortly focussing on the details of the content for the 2008-09 Agriculture Survey. A third paper will look at the details of the survey program for 2009-10 onwards.