The Rural Environment and Agriculture Statistics Program provides reliable, relevant and timely information on the social, economic and environmental characteristics of agriculture including: the natural resource and land management practices undertaken on farms including water use and management; the agricultural commodities produced on farms and their value; farm management information; farmer demographics; and structural information about the industry including the number, size and industry of farm businesses, and the level of foreign ownership of agricultural businesses, land and water assets.
Information from the program supports informed decision-making by Australian and state and territory governments, industry organisations, financial and academic institutions and the private sector on issues important for agricultural and environmental policy determination at the national, regional, and international levels. These issues include: food security; climate change; and the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the agriculture industry. Data from the program directly supports the ABS National Accounts and Water Account.
The ABS engages broadly across government, industry and the wider rural community to ensure the continued relevance of the Rural Environment and Agriculture Statistics Program in the face of a rapidly changing policy environment. Through this engagement the ABS aims to build collaborative partnerships to achieve innovative statistical solutions for identified information needs. The ABS has also been actively involved in the development and implementation of the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics (an initiative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation) and the associated Asia-Pacific Regional Action Plan (RAP), which the Program aligns with.
The main outputs from the program are:
- Preliminary and final data on agricultural commodities produced, their value, and water are released annually. This data is available in Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia, Preliminary (ABS cat. no. 7111.0); Value of Principal Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, Preliminary (ABS cat. no. 7501.0); Agricultural Commodities, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7121.0); Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7503.0); Water Use on Australian Farms (ABS cat. no. 4618.0); and Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production (ABS cat. no. 4610.0.55.008)
- Land Management and Farming in Australia (ABS cat. no. 4627.0) provides annual data on land management practices with an expanded suite of land management practices data released biennially in Agricultural Resource Management Practices (ABS cat. no. 4630.0) from June 2013
- Agricultural Land and Water Ownership (ABS cat. no. 7127.0) provides data on the foreign ownership of agricultural businesses, land and water entitlements (next release due April 2014)
- Livestock and Meat, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7218.0.55.001) provides monthly data on livestock slaughterings for human consumption including meat produced, and quarterly data on other livestock products including poultry, meat and wool is available in Livestock Products, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7215.0).
The main medium-term developments in the program are to:
- embed ongoing consultation and review processes into the work program, following the completion of phase one of the Rural Environment and Agriculture Survey Program Review, to help develop the 2016-22 statistical program - ongoing
- identify opportunities to build partnerships with stakeholders across government and industry to meet data gaps – such as those identified through the Essential Statistical Assets for Australia process - ongoing
- extend the program’s engagement internationally, including through the implementation of the Asia-Pacific RAP of the Global Strategy and related initiatives - ongoing
- continue to influence corporate improvements to data capture and data delivery systems through: increased use of webforms; expanded use of administrative data (particularly geospatial data); and improvements in dissemination systems and data visualisation - ongoing over 2013-16
- investigate innovative ways of acquiring data to meet user requirements beyond direct survey collection, such as through exploring the use of satellite imagery - ongoing.
Andrew Henderson, Assistant Statistician, Rural Environment and Agriculture Statistics Branch
Topics@ A Glance - Agriculture