7101.0 - Ag Mag - The Agriculture Newsletter, Dec 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/12/2010   
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THE AG CENSUS IS COMING! Image: Farm boy at blackboard

Next year (2011) is going to be a particularly busy year for the ABS because we are going to be running two of our biggest collections at around the same time.

  • The first (and the bigger logistically) is the Census of Population and Housing. This is the one where one of our collectors knocks on your front door (and everyone else's in Australia) and leaves a form for you to fill in on Census night containing questions about everybody who is in your house on that particular night. The collector then comes back to pick up the form. How's that for service?
  • The other is the Agricultural Census. This is the one where questionnaires are sent to all agricultural businesses in Australia, asking them to tell us about everything they have grown (or lovingly nurtured to slaughter time) in that business during the previous financial year.

Not surprisingly, the one in which we are most interested in the Agriculture and Environment Business Statistics Centre, is the Agricultural Census. We will send out forms to all agricultural businesses throughout Australia in June 2011, which will begin the information gathering process. Businesses will have fourteen days to fill in the form and get it back to ABS ....... we even supply a reply paid envelope, so it's easy to pop in the mail and hurry it back to us. The information then goes through a rigorous analysis phase before being published, in a variety of ways on the ABS website. Preliminary data are expected to be published before the end of 2011.

All the information provided by businesses in the Agricultural Census is kept strictly confidential. We, at ABS, go to great lengths (and even have an element of pride) in ensuring the safety and confidentiality of the information with which we are entrusted .... in fact, we are legislatively bound to do so through the Census and Statistics Act of 1905. In other words we have been keeping the personal and business data of Australians safe for over 100 years.

Here are some things you may or not know about the Agricultural Census 2010 -11

What is it?
The Agricultural Census is the primary source of information about the Agricultural sector in Australia. Its purpose is to measure agricultural activity across the country and to ascertain the contribution of agriculture to national production, whilst also collecting selected information about trends in farm management, water use and farm related environmental issues. It also provides comprehensive, high quality information on the size, activities and commodity production of Australian farm businesses, supports the development and administration of funding and other assistance to agricultural businesses, and informs farmers about broad trends in the industry, amongst many other things.

What is it used for?
The information obtained provides national, state and regional data to support decision making, research, analysis by policy makers, non-government organisations and local communities. Another benefit is timely, high quality and relevant data for small geographic areas to support local decisions. It also helps to ensure the quality of the ABS Agricultural Business Frame for non-Census years .... this means that the future surveys we conduct are as efficient as possible and, more importantly, that we don't bother people unnecessarily. In short, the results of the Agricultural Census take the guess work out of the many decisions made on a daily basis about the Agricultural sector in Australia, ultimately helping everyone.

How big is it?
The 2010 -11 Agricultural Census form will be sent to approximately 170,000 agricultural businesses throughout Australia.

What next?
  • If you are the owner of an agricultural business look out for further information about the Ag Census in the media and on the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au) and keep an eye on your mailbox in June 2011 for a copy of the form.
  • If you are a researcher, manager or policy maker interested in agriculture, look out for first results from the Ag Census on the ABS website (see above) in late 2011.

An interesting fact
Agricultural Censuses were conducted annually up until 1997, but have been held every fifth year since 2001. The ABS has archived selected agricultural production estimates dating back to 1861.