7127.0 - Agricultural Land and Water Ownership, December 2010 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 09/09/2011  First Issue
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1 This publication contains final estimates for the main data collected in the Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey, December 2010 (ALWOS). Included are statistics on ownership of agricultural land, agricultural businesses and water entitlements for agricultural purposes in Australia. Data are available as data cubes via the downloads tab of this release.


2 The ALWOS, collected under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, was undertaken to address the lack of information available on foreign ownership of agricultural businesses, including land and water entitlements for agricultural use. The survey was designed to deliver Australian level estimates with data by state/territory or by industry group provided where available. Key stakeholders, including the Department of Treasury, the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) were consulted on the information requirements and priorities to be delivered from the ALWOS.

3 The ABS collects and publishes counts of businesses operating in agriculture and areas of agricultural land through an annual survey (see Agricultural Commodities, Australia cat. no. 7121.0). Volumes of water entitlements for agricultural purposes were collected and published in respect of Water Use on Australian Farms, 2002-03 (cat. no. 4618.0). The ABS collected data on farm ownership status in the Agricultural Census, 1983-84 and in a subsequent supplementary survey. The ALWOS has been undertaken to provide an up-to-date view of ownership of businesses operating in agriculture in Australia and their land and water entitlement assets.

4 Where figures for individual states/territories have been suppressed for reasons of confidentiality, they have been included in relevant national totals. These figures appear as ‘n.p’ in the data. In addition, some categories have been combined, for example, combining Australian Capital Territory data with New South Wales data.

5 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.


6 The industry classification used in this publication is the 2006 version of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). ANZSIC 2006 was developed to provide a more contemporary industrial classification system taking into account issues such as changes in the structure and composition of the economy, changing user demands and compatibility with major international classification standards. For more information, please refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).


7 Since 2005-06, the ABS has used an economic statistics units model on the ABS' Business Register (ABSBR) to describe the characteristics of businesses and the structural relationships between related businesses. The units model is used within large and diverse business groups to define reporting units that can provide data to the ABS at a suitable level.


8 The scope of ALWOS included all agricultural businesses recorded on the ABSBR above a minimum size cut-off of $5,000. This measure of size was based on the ABS' Estimated Value of Agricultural Operations (EVAO) or a derived value based on Business Activity Statement (BAS) turnover.

9 In order to capture accurate information on the foreign ownership of all leased and operated only land, business count in ALWOS was based upon land ownership count. This enabled the capture of the level of foreign ownership where the business may have leased parcels of land from owners with differing degrees of foreign ownership. Businesses which own agricultural land and/or water entitlements for agricultural purposes, but which do not operate in agriculture, are also in scope of this survey.

10 While the ABSBR does not include all agricultural businesses in Australia, it provides improved coverage from the former ABS-maintained Agricultural Survey frame, as most businesses and organisations in Australia need to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) from the ATO for their business operations. The ABR based register is also more up-to-date as it excludes agricultural businesses with cancelled ABNs and incorporates regularly updated information on agricultural businesses from the ATO.

11 For the ALWOS, a response rate of 92% was achieved from a sample of approximately 11,000 agricultural businesses selected from an in-scope population of approximately 165,000 agricultural businesses.


12 In order to validate the estimates, comparisons of area of holding estimates were made against previously reported data in recent Agricultural Survey and Census results. Levels of foreign ownership were compared with the previous collection from 1983-84. The ALWOS water entitlement data were compared with the last six years of the Agricultural Survey water use data and against data from the Water use on Australian Farms publication, 2002-03 (cat. no. 4618.0) publication. Although the estimates from these collections are not directly comparable (due to differing frame specifications and collection methodologies) they are considered a valuable reference for the expected scale of foreign ownership of agricultural holdings and water entitlements volume.

13 ABS did not use data from the Foreign Investment Review Board as the Foreign Investment Review Board only reviews foreign investments above a certain size threshold ($231 million). Given this threshold, the ABS focussed its research on sources that included both small and large agricultural businesses.

14 Variation when comparing business counts contained within Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2009-10 to ALWOS business counts are due to the difference in scope. Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2009-10 business counts are based on businesses that operate an agricultural business whereas the ALWOS business count is based on businesses that have an agricultural land asset (some of these businesses may not actually operate an agricultural business).


15 The estimates in this publication are based on information obtained from a sample drawn from the total agricultural business population in scope of the collection, and are subject to sampling variability; that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been produced if all businesses had been included in the survey. One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE) which indicates the extent to which an estimate might vary by chance because only a sample was taken. There are about two chances in three that a 'sample' estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if all businesses had responded, and about nineteen chances in twenty that the difference will be less than two SEs.

16 In this publication, 'sampling' variability of the estimates is measured by the relative standard error (RSE) which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers.

17 Estimates that have an estimated RSE between 10% and 25% are annotated with the symbol '^'. These estimates should be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for some purposes. Estimates with an RSE between 25% and 50% are annotated with the symbol '*', indicating that the estimate should be used with caution as it is subject to sampling variability too high for most practical purposes. Estimates with an RSE greater than 50% are annotated with the symbol '**' indicating that the sampling variability causes the estimates to be considered too unreliable for general use. Separate indication of the RSEs of all estimates is available on request.

18 The interval bounded by two standard errors is the 95% confidence interval, which provides a way of looking at the variability inherent in estimates. There is a 95% chance that the true value of the estimate lies within that interval. The 95% confidence intervals are included in a datacube via the downloads tab of this publication.


19 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


20 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


21 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed under the Statistics and Themes pages on the ABS website <https://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead.