Survey Participant Information - Agricultural Surveys
 

Survey Participant Information - Agricultural Surveys


If you have received a survey form related to agriculture or land management practices from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), this page will help you understand the purpose of these surveys and will provide answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). A list of contacts is also provided for further information on any aspect of these collections.


Agricultural Census
The Agricultural Census provides benchmark national, state and sub-state data on agricultural commodity production, water use and natural resource management. The Agricultural Census is the largest business based collection run by the ABS and is conducted every five years. In 2015-16 the Agricultural Census will cover approximately 100,000 agricultural businesses.

The Agricultural Census is designed to support decision making and analysis by a wide variety of stakeholders across government, industry, the research sector and wider community. The Agricultural Census provides comprehensive high quality agricultural commodity production and activity data (including area and production for crops and area irrigated, number of livestock and number of producers for each commodity) at low levels of geographic disaggregation. The Agricultural census is also the major source of commodity data used in the calculation of Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced and is used as an input to the Australian National Accounts.

Estimates from the 2015-16 Agricultural Census will be disseminated via publications and data cubes released to the ABS website. The first set of (preliminary) estimates for major commodity items from the Agricultural Census is scheduled to be released in early 2017 in the publication Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 7111.0) and will be followed by final estimates for all commodities, which will be released in publication Agricultural Commodities, Australia (cat. no. 7121.0) and final estimates for water use, which will be released in publication Water use on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4618.0).


Land Management Practices Survey
The Land Management Practices Survey is a user-funded survey collecting detailed agricultural land management practices data. The 2015-16 Land Management Practices Survey is the last of three biennial surveys the ABS is contracted to deliver under the Carbon Farming Initiative memorandum of understanding with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. In 2015-16 the survey will cover approximately 34,000 agricultural businesses. These businesses will also be selected in the Agricultural Census as the ABS is undertaking both collections at the same time, but for the ease of agricultural businesses, those selected in both collections will only receive one form to complete.

The Land Management Practices Survey is designed to support and inform the Carbon Farming Initiative under the Emissions Reduction Fund and the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory by providing data with respect to the implementation and uptake of on-farm emission reduction activities. Information on land management practices including: pasture and soil management, cattle and sheep management, ground cover maintenance, animal waste management, vegetation management and crop management undertaken by agricultural businesses will be produced. The data collected will support policy and decision making in relation to the Carbon Farming Initiative and contribute to an improved information base to meet Australia’s national commitments and international obligations.

Estimates from the 2015-16 Land Management Practices Survey will be released to the ABS website in the publication Land Management and Farming in Australia (cat. no. 4627.0).


Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey
The Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey provides benchmark data on agricultural commodity production, water use and natural resource management. The Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey is a large scale survey undertaken annually between the five yearly Agricultural Censuses.

The survey is designed to support decision making and analysis by a wide variety of stakeholders across government, industry, the research sector and wider community. This survey provides high quality agricultural commodity production and activity data (including area and production for crops and area irrigated, number of livestock and number of producers for each commodity) at national, state and regional levels. The survey is also the major source of commodity data used in the calculation of Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced in inter-census years and is used as an input to the Australian National Accounts.

Estimates from the Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey will be disseminated via publications and data cubes released to the ABS website. Commodity estimates will be released in the publication Agricultural Commodities, Australia (cat. no. 7121.0) and water estimates will be released in the publication Water use on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4618.0).


Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey
The Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey collects information on the foreign ownership of agricultural businesses and land and water entitlements used for agricultural purposes. It was developed in response to an un-met policy need for data on foreign ownership of agricultural assets in Australia. Initially conducted in 2010, The Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey was run again in 2013 and will be conducted again in 2016. Results from the survey are used to inform policy and decision making by government and industry bodies.

Estimates from the survey will be released to the ABS website under catalogue number 7127.0, Agricultural Land and Water Ownership, Australia.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Why does the ABS send out these survey forms relating to agriculture and land management practices?
2. Why are agricultural collections run so regularly?
3. Could I be selected in a survey every year?
4. Why am I included in more than one agricultural/land management practices survey?
5. My business is small, why do you need my information?
6. Do I have to fill it in?
7. Why is the survey form I have received full of questions about activities in which I am not involved?
8. Who uses the data I supply?
9. Why wasn't there a question on . . .?
10. I have already sent you the information requested.

PRIVACY AND ACCURACY


11. Isn't this an intrusion into my private business? Is confidentiality guaranteed?
12. Why don't you pay people to fill in your forms and why can't we have more time to fill them in?
13. How accurate do the figures need to be?
14. Can't the ABS collect this data from other sources?


1. Why does the ABS send out these survey forms relating to agriculture and land management practices?

The ABS conducts a number of collections designed to obtain the statistics necessary to keep the agricultural community informed. This data assists policy makers, industry groups and producers with planning, budgeting and making decisions about agricultural issues.

Every five years the ABS conducts a census of all in-scope agricultural businesses to collect agricultural commodity data and natural resource management data. In the intervening years, sample surveys involving large businesses and a random sample of small businesses are conducted. In addition, the ABS undertakes a number of smaller specialised agricultural collections including the: Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales; and Livestock Slaughtered collections.

2. Why are agricultural collections run so regularly?

There are a number of reasons why it is necessary to collect agricultural production and land management information every year. One reason is the variability of Australian climatic conditions which may cause significant annual variations in the types and quantities of agricultural goods produced and the practices employed in their production.

Another reason is the importance of agriculture to the Australian economy. Statistics on agriculture are used in compiling the Australian National Accounts figures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and it is essential that data is collected on an annual basis to ensure the value of agriculture is reflected accurately in these figures.

However, it is only once every five years that the ABS conducts an Agricultural Census of all agricultural businesses across Australia. This collection is particularly important as it provides statistics on agricultural production and natural resource management at the regional (sub-state/territory) level. Periodically the ABS also runs collections targeted at specific agricultural industries or topics related to agriculture or land management practices, on a partially or fully user-funded basis. These include the: Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales; and Livestock Slaughtered collections. Data on livestock slaughtering is collected from the large abattoirs on a monthly basis with a number of small abattoirs approached annually. This collection provides the information necessary to assist industry to understand movements in the market. Information on wool receivals, purchases and sales is collected quarterly and is used to inform the wool industry in addition to feeding into the compilation of the Australian National Accounts.

3. Could I be selected in a survey every year?

In an Agricultural Census year (once every five years), all in-scope agricultural businesses are sent an Agricultural Census form (the most recent Agricultural Census is being conducted in 2015-16). In non-Agricultural Census years, sample surveys are undertaken where large businesses that make a major contribution to production of particular commodities in their region or industry are sent a survey form. A stratified random sample of the remaining smaller businesses is then also selected in these survey years.

4. Why am I included in more than one agricultural/land management practices survey?

ABS agriculture and land management practices surveys cover a broad range of industries and regions. Agricultural businesses with diverse operations (for example, involved in cropping and livestock production) may find themselves selected in multiple surveys. Large businesses that make a major contribution to production of particular commodities in their region or industry are more likely to be selected in multiple surveys due to their significance.
If your agriculture business has been selected in more than one survey, a response to each is very important as your business has been chosen to represent similar businesses in that region and/or industry.

5. My business is small, why do you need my information?

Smaller businesses have different characteristics to larger businesses, and make an important contribution to the Australian economy, especially at state and territory levels. Consequently, the ABS considers it essential to include a sample of smaller businesses in a survey together with larger businesses to ensure comprehensive representation and accuracy of data.

If your small business has been selected in an ABS agriculture or land management related survey it will be representing a number of other businesses of a similar size. In a survey year when not all agricultural businesses receive a survey form, it is important that all business size ranges are represented so there is a fair representation of the target population and no bias introduced to the estimates.

6. Do I have to fill it in?

The ABS relies on the goodwill of individuals and businesses in Australia to provide accurate information as requested. The vast majority of farmers (and other businesses) respond to our requests for information. However, the Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the Australian Statistician with the power, if necessary, to direct you in writing to answer the questions.

7. Why is the survey form I have received full of questions about activities in which I am not involved?
The ABS designs forms to capture the full range of commodities and land management practices undertaken across all states, territories and regions, and therefore, there will always be some questions on each form that are not relevant to some agricultural businesses. Form sequencing is used to ensure that businesses do not have to complete questions that are not relevant to them.

8. Who uses the data I supply?

Agricultural and land management practices data produced by the ABS is used by a variety of individuals and organisations in both the government and private industry. The information is used by the Australian Government and state/territory governments for planning, budgeting and policy development. Industry organisations and other producer associations use the data to support submissions to government and to better represent their members. Agriculture service companies also use ABS data in their planning to improve their capacity to meet the needs of their clients in the farming community. Commodity data is also used internally by the ABS to compile the Australian National Accounts.

9. Why wasn't there a question on . . . ?

Questions on agricultural and land management practices survey forms are determined in consultation with the major data users relevant to each collection. When determining what questions to include in a survey, the ABS considers a range of factors, including: whether information can be obtained from other sources; why the data is needed; how the information will be obtained; ability of businesses to provide the information; and costs.
Each year the ABS asks a number of primary producers to test proposed questions for the agricultural and land management collections to ensure they can be readily understood and easily completed. In addition, the ABS relies on information provided through your comments on the back of the forms. Your contributions are encouraged and valued and the ABS makes use of them where possible.

A consultation process is conducted each year to identify potential emerging topics for inclusion for the annual agricultural sample surveys and for the five-yearly Agricultural Census. For more information, please contact us.

10. I have already sent you the information requested.

If you believe you have already provided the information requested by the ABS through a survey or other means, please contact us.

11. Isn't this an intrusion into my private business? Is confidentiality guaranteed?

The ABS has a responsibility to ensure that it provides a quality statistical service whilst also protecting the privacy rights of those individuals or businesses who provide information. Your completed form remains confidential to the ABS and statistics will only be published in the form of aggregated data. In some circumstances very detailed statistics could relate to agricultural production data for a single business. Agricultural businesses who can show that their information may be identified in the detailed statistics published by the ABS, can apply to the ABS to further aggregate the data to avoid such identification. The Australian Statistician and ABS officers are bound by the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to observe the strictest confidence in regard to the information supplied by providers. The Act provides for penalties of up to $5,000 and/or two years in jail, or both, against officers who breach this rule.

12. Why don't you pay people to fill in your forms and why can't we have more time to fill them in?

The ABS appreciates that considerable time and effort is required on the part of businesses to complete ABS forms. However, there is no provision within the Census & Statistics Act 1905 to reimburse businesses and individuals for the cost of providing statistical information. ABS relies on the cooperation of individuals, businesses and other organisations to supply information for statistical purposes without compensation. It is important that we receive data from providers in a timely manner so that the resulting information can be released as soon as possible after the period to which it relates. In the case of the annual collections, if you are unable to supply data because it will not be available for some weeks, you may ask for an extension of time. As timing is particularly important for monthly collections, the ABS asks that a careful estimate be provided to assist the timely release of data. We also encourage providers to contact us if they need any help in completing the survey form.

13. How accurate do the figures need to be?

The ABS requires information that is as accurate as possible. The data supplied by your business contributes to estimates relating to all agricultural businesses (of a similar nature) operating in Australia. The more accurate the figures you supply, the more accurate the total estimate will be. However, if for some items exact data is not readily available, careful estimates will be accepted.

14. Can't the ABS collect this data from other sources?

In deciding to undertake an agricultural or land management practices collection, ABS considers the range of other data sources available, whether the information could be collected via other means and the suitability of the topic for collection via an ABS survey. In addition, ABS business surveys must pass the scrutiny of the Statistical Clearing House, which must clear all surveys that are directed to 50 or more businesses and that are conducted by, or on behalf of, any Australian Government agency. The purpose of the Statistical Clearing House is to reduce duplication, minimise the burden on business and ensure that surveys are fit for purpose.

While there are other organisations that collect agricultural and land management practices data, the ABS provides the most comprehensive set of information to support the agriculture industry.

CONTACTS


If you need help with any of our surveys, or wish to provide comments on the surveys or survey content, you can:

Phone the ABS:


National Information and Referral Service (NIRS)

1300 135 070

Write to the ABS, stating the name of the survey:


Australian Bureau of Statistics
Reply Paid 76746
Sydney NSW 2000

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to the ABS.

The ABS is grateful for the cooperation of data providers in returning their completed forms promptly to enable early processing and release of results from our collections. We look forward to your continued support.

Thank you