7100.0 - Agricultural Census: Consultation on Content, 2015-16  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/07/2015  First Issue
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INTRODUCTION

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is preparing for the 2015-16 Agricultural Census. The purpose of this publication is to initiate public consultation and invite comment on the proposed core data to be collected along with providing the opportunity to identify additional information requirements that may be included in the Agricultural Census.

The Agricultural Census is one of the largest statistical collections undertaken by the ABS and produces a range of information to inform decision-making on Australia’s agricultural industry, including data on the area and production of key agricultural commodities, and information on water and land use. This information supports policy and planning by Commonwealth and state and territory governments, industry bodies, research organisations and the farming community through:

  • informing the development and monitoring of policies relating to agriculture and associated natural resource management and land use issues;
  • informing decision-making for those involved in producing, supplying, marketing and trading agricultural commodities;
  • enabling the monitoring of economic and social issues affecting rural communities;
  • supporting national and international reporting requirements; and
  • determining the contribution of agriculture to the national economy through the National Accounts.
The Agricultural Census has been conducted by the ABS every five years and collects core agricultural data from businesses across a variety of agricultural industries across Australia. The Agricultural Census is currently the key vehicle through which the ABS produces agricultural data for small geographic areas and for smaller industries. It provides benchmark data to support the agricultural statistical programs of both ABS and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), including through the maintenance of a high quality frame of agricultural businesses.

The Agricultural Census contributes to the broader agricultural statistical system in Australia, which also includes statistics and data produced by ABARES and a variety of stakeholders across the government, industry and research sectors. This system of agricultural statistics users and producers was recently the subject of a joint review by ABS and ABARES - the National Agricultural Statistics Review (NASR).

The NASR was jointly undertaken by the ABS and ABARES to assess the agricultural statistical system in Australia and its adequacy for informing decision-making, planning and policy making, both now and into the future. The NASR consulted with stakeholders across the system and identified a number of areas for improvement. These included concerns relating to data quality and respondent burden, coordination and governance across the system, and areas of data gaps. The NASR identified a range of opportunities for the ABS and ABARES, in collaboration with other statistical users and producers across the system, to address these concerns. These opportunities include considering the increased use of new technology in the collection of data (such as online survey forms); greater use of alternative data sources such as administrative data; and greater collaboration and data sharing across the system to maximise the utility of available data.

For the Agricultural Census, the ABS will work with ABARES and other stakeholders across the agricultural statistical system to address the issues identified through the NASR by:

  • ensuring the content of the Agricultural Census is aligned to the ongoing strategic information needs of the sector, as represented by the Enduring Goals for Australian Agriculture framework (see Appendix A) developed through the NASR;
  • working to minimise respondent burden by ensuring that the content of the collection is restricted to data items that are of the highest national priority and which cannot already be obtained from other data sources;
  • continuing to offer a web form reporting option to improve the provider experience and reduce respondent burden;
  • working with stakeholders to identify and use alternative data sources, including administrative data, to improve the quality of Agricultural Census data, including the Agricultural Census frame; and
  • improving the accessibility and useability of outputs.