7105.0.55.004 - National Agricultural Statistics Review - Final Report, 2015  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/07/2015  First Issue
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In this context, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) have undertaken the National Agricultural Statistics Review (NASR). The purpose of the review is to assess the agricultural statistical system in Australia and its adequacy for informing decision-making in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries both now and into the future. The agricultural statistical system consists of agricultural statistical assets3, stakeholders (users, producers and custodians of agricultural statistics), and the principles by which the statistics system operates, including the supporting statistical infrastructure and governance arrangements4. As the primary data producers, custodians and users of official agricultural statistical information in the current system, the ABS and ABARES are well placed to undertake this review.

As part of its assessment, the NASR has investigated:

    • the priority information needs of stakeholders
    • where information needs are not being met by existing sources of data
    • overlaps and inconsistencies in data
    • opportunities for efficiency in the agricultural statistical system.
    The NASR built on the outcomes of other recent reviews of agricultural statistics in Australia, including the ABS Environment and Agriculture Survey Program Review5, ABARES internal program reviews, and research conducted by the Australian Farm Institute6. The NASR also drew on relevant national and international statistical initiatives, including the ABS’ Essential Statistical Assets for Australia initiative7, and the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics8.

    The NASR engaged with agricultural statistics stakeholders through two phases of consultation in 2013-14. In total, 42 submissions were received, and 43 organisations participated in a series of targeted forums. Rich input was received from all stakeholders, including Australian government and state and territory government agencies, peak industry bodies, research and development corporations, academics and the community.

    The first phase of the NASR culminated in the release of a Preliminary Findings report on 30 March 20149. The preliminary findings:

      • confirmed strong stakeholder support for the set of enduring goals for Australian agriculture proposed by the NASR as a framework for understanding high priority statistical needs across the system both now and into the future (see further below)
      • identified the current high priority statistical information needs in the system against the enduring goals and assessed how well these were being met by the current statistical assets in the system
      • identified unmet statistical information needs (where there were no statistical assets available to meet a given priority information need)
      • identified a range of issues with the current system, including concerns regarding the survey burden placed on farmers, and a range of data quality issues, including relevance, timeliness, accuracy, coherence and accessibility
      • identified some opportunities to address these issues, including innovations and opportunities for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the system.
    The release of the preliminary findings initiated the second phase of the NASR, which further engaged stakeholders in examining opportunities for innovation and collaboration between the producers, users and custodians of agricultural statistics to address issues with the current agricultural statistical system. This final report summarises the findings from both phases of the NASR and develops a set of actions aimed at improving agriculture, fisheries and forestry statistics in Australia for the long term.


    3 The NASR considered agricultural statistics to mean broadly the data, information, statistics or other knowledge that can be used to provide insights into agricultural activity (including fisheries and forestry activity), including from censuses, surveys, commissioned research or administrative data.
    4 Components of the system include: Statistical assets—the data and information generated to provide insights into agricultural activity now and into the future; Stakeholders—the organisations and individuals across government, industry, academia and the community who are involved in producing and using agricultural statistics; Principles—representing a set of characteristics and good practices of a statistics system that have a bearing on its ability to satisfy data and information needs, including: strong governance and coordination across the system; a clearly articulated strategy to guide future investment; use of best practice methods and data sources; investment in, and use of, innovative new technologies, methods and processes across the statistical cycle; a culture of open data; and data and information needs (summarised in the enduring goals)—which define the decision making needs of Australian agriculture.
    5 ABS 2011, Discussion Paper: Environment and Agriculture Survey Program Review, 2011-12 (cat. no. 7105.0.55.001), ABS, Canberra.
    6 Potard, G and Keogh, M 2013, Is counting farmers harder than counting sheep? A comparison of the agricultural statistical systems of Australia, the United States and France, Australian Farm Institute, Surry Hills.
    7 ABS 2014, Essential Statistical Assets for Australia, 2014 (cat. no. 1395.0), ABS, Canberra.
    8 World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) 2011, Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics, Report No. 56719-GLB, Washington, DC: World Bank.
    9 ABS, National Agricultural Statistics Review - Preliminary findings, 2013-14 (cat. no. 7105.0.55.003), ABS, Canberra.