Salinity first - ABS survey of farmers, May 2002

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May 8, 2002
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Salinity first - ABS survey of farmers

For the first time in the salinity debate, farmers are being asked systematically how salinity issues are affecting them, in a survey being conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The Land Management and Salinity Survey 2002 is being mailed out next week to around 20,000 farmers.

Preliminary results from the 2001 ABS Agricultural Census show farmers in Western Australia have the largest challenge with 37% of farms in the State reporting salinity followed by South Australia (13%), Victoria (11%), New South Wales (6%), Tasmania (5%) and Queensland, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory (all 3%).

Farmers recognise the importance of a better understanding of salinity. Bob Harrison, ABS Environment Director in charge of the survey, said farmers had been very supportive and welcomed being asked for the first time about their experience with salinity.

"A large number of farmers responded to our call to help develop the survey questions," he said. "The result is a short survey which captures how different farmers are actively managing salinity issues around the country."

"I expect most farmers will fill out their form while sitting at the kitchen table after dinner. It only takes 15 minutes to complete."

"As with all ABS surveys, identified information from respondents is kept confidential."

The survey looks at how farmers manage or prevent salinity and the factors that influence land management decisions on farms.

Farmers' federations, regional catchment authorities, policy makers, government, environmental groups, as well as farmers themselves will all be able to use the survey results to make informed decisions on salinity management. The results will be released early next year.

The ABS is conducting this survey to support the $1.4b National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.