7103.0.80.002 - Agricultural Census: ABS Views on Content and Procedures, 2010-11  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/10/2009  First Issue
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This information paper outlines current ABS thinking on the scope and content of the 2010-11 Agricultural Census and highlights a number of other developments associated with this important collection.

The main objective of the Agricultural Census is to provide commodity, water use and land use information on the agriculture sector for small geographic areas. The collection has six main roles:

  • to provide production data to derive industry value added and gross operating surplus for the Agriculture industry
  • to support the determination and monitoring of agriculture policy
  • to support the determination and monitoring of natural resource and water policy as it relates to agriculture
  • to support decision makers involved in producing, supplying, marketing and trading agricultural commodities
  • to support the monitoring of economic and social issues affecting rural communities, and
  • to maintain a high quality population frame for future agricultural surveys and other relevant collections.

The ABS conducts an Agricultural Census every five years, with large sample surveys in intervening years. The main difference between the estimate produced from a census and a sample survey is the production of higher quality data with reduced sampling variability, and the ability to deliver information for small geographic areas and less prevalent commodities or livestock groups.

This paper focuses a process for ensuring that the information needs, which are best addressed by a census collection, are identified.

In addition to fulfilling the above roles, the ABS has the following specific goals for the 2010-11 Agricultural Census:
  • to improve on timeliness in the release of results compared to the 2005-06 Agricultural Census
  • to enhance capacity to produce small area outputs for a range of geographies
  • to disseminate data for the most common regions as standard outputs, and
  • to provide electronic reporting capability providing operators of agricultural businesses with the option to submit their data electronically.

The content of the 2010-11 Agricultural Census is constrained by the size of the form and the complexity of the topics. Only the highest priority topics will be included. Provider load is a key consideration in limiting the size of the form. Core production data (the minimum required to derive estimates of industry value added and gross operating surplus) and key water use and land use data take priority over all other content.

In the 2010-11 Agricultural Census, the proposed quantity of commodity, water use and land use data is similar to that collected in the 2005-06 Agricultural Census. This will provide consistency between the two collections and support the inclusion of the highest priority user funded information needs, subject to provider load and other considerations.

The proposed content of the 2010-11 Agricultural Census is discussed in detail in Chapter 3.

Following the release of this information paper, the ABS intends to hold discussions with key users of agriculture statistics by the end of 2009. The views of users obtained in response to this information paper will be open for discussion at the Agriculture Statistics Workshop to be held at the ABS in Canberra on Thursday 4th March 2010.

Content for the Agricultural Census will need to be agreed upon and finalised within a few months following the workshop.