The Agricultural Census provides benchmark information and sub-state data to inform a wide-range of policy decisions across government, industry and the research sector, and consequently demand for inclusion of items on the Census is high.
To determine the content of the 2015-16 Agricultural Census, ABS developed a draft list of core data items (i.e. items for inclusion on the Agricultural Census on an ABS-funded basis) based on recent consultations with stakeholders through the NASR and annual discussions on the content of the agricultural survey program. This draft list was then used as a foundation for the consultation process conducted via the release of the discussion paper Agricultural Census: Consultation on Content, 2015-16 (cat. no. 7100.0) in July 2015 which sought stakeholder views on the core content and any additional items that may be considered for inclusion.
Interested stakeholders were invited to make a submission detailing their priority information requirements and any additional data characteristics such as reference period, frequency, and geographic level. The ABS received more than 20 written submissions, and held 16 face-to-face meetings with stakeholders from Commonwealth and state and territory government, industry and the research sector as part of this consultation process. In assessing the consultation feedback and determining which data requirements should be included on the Agricultural Census, ABS considered the following criteria:
- The relevance of the data need, measured by the extent to which it informs the Enduring Goals for Australian Agriculture (listed in Appendix A);
- The relative priority of the data need (the extent to which it informs high-priority national and state and territory policy requirements, and the relative utility of the data to a wide range of stakeholders);
- The need to minimise respondent burden (considering whether there are other data sources that could provide the information without imposing additional burden; and/or whether collecting the information on the Agricultural Census may impose excessive burden); and
- The suitability of the Agricultural Census as a vehicle for collecting the information.
ABS also considered submissions that did not meet all of the above criteria but which may be suitable for inclusion on the Agricultural Census on a user-funded basis. The inclusion of user-funded content was considered subject to the availability of space on the Census form and with regard to the relevance of the content (considering the Enduring Goals and relative priority of the information required) and the need to minimise respondent burden.