Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey

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    NAME OF ORGANISATION
    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    OVERVIEW
    The Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey (REACS) is run annually in between the five-yearly Agricultural Census. REACS was developed to replace the previous Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and Agricultural Commodities Survey (ACS) in response to the Survey Program Review (SPR) conducted in 2012. The reference period for the 2016-17 REACS is the financial year ending 30 June 2017.

    Frequency: Since 2012-13, REACS has been run annually in the years between the five yearly Agricultural Census. The last Agricultural Census reference period was 2015-16.

    Scope: The scope of the 2016-17 REACS collection is all businesses operating agricultural land in Australia who have an Estimated Value of Agricultural Operations (EVAO) of $40,000 or greater. This has changed from the former cut-off of $5,000, to align with the scope of ABARES collections and to significantly reduce the burden on small farm businesses in response to the NASR findings. This scope is the same as the 2015-16 Agricultural Census.

    Sample size: The sample size of the 2016-17 REACS will be approximately 30,000 units. This is an expected decrease in sample size due to the revised EVAO scope cut-off. The actual despatch size will be approximately 28,000 units.

    Statistical unit: The statistical unit for the collection is the legal entity (Australian Business Number (ABN)) bounded by geography. This statistical unit was first adopted for the 2005-06 Agricultural Census, when the collection moved to a business register based frame.

    Information: REACS collects area and production data for a wide range of agricultural commodities and information on land management practices being employed by farmers across Australia. The core set of land management practices themes has been established through consultation with key stakeholders. In accordance with the revised statistical program, core land management practices themes were collected biennially through LaMPS (in 2011-12, 2013-14 and 2015-16), and through REACS in alternate years when LaMPS was not run. This resulted in a consistent time series, assisting internal and external stakeholders to develop evidence-based policy. While the final LaMPS was conducted in 2015-16, REACS will continue to collect information on core land management practices going forward.

    Major categories on the form: REACS 2016-17 will collect information on a range of land management practices and agricultural commodities including: land use; livestock; horticulture crops; nurseries, cut flowers and cultivated turf; cereals and other crops; pasture and crop cultivation; crop management; water for agricultural production and irrigation expenditure; soil management; fertiliser use; and farm management.

    Outputs: Data is expected to be available at national, state and regional levels (including NRM, SA4, and Murray-Darling Basin).

    Design constraints for major data items in REACS are in the process of being identified through consultation with Business Survey Methodology (BSM).

    PURPOSE
    REACS provides 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 Federal and state and territory governments, industry bodies, research organisations and the farming community.

    REACS has also been designed to meet the demand for information on rural environment issues and natural resource management (NRM) issues, collecting a core set of land management practices themed questions in years where the more detailed Land Management Practices Survey (LaMPS) is not conducted. These data support and inform the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) and the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

    The Environment and Agricultural Statistics Branch (EASB) introduced several significant transformations to its collection model in 2015-16 to address the National Agricultural Statistics Review (NASR) findings and to align with corporate transformation objectives. The following practices will be continued in 2016-17:

    • Increased EVAO scope cut-off for REACS from $5,000 to $40,000 to be maintained, to align with the scope of Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) collections and significantly reduce the burden on small farm businesses. Modelling work for between $5,000 and $40,000 is likely to be required, similar to the Agricultural Census. EASB will support clients to work through their statistical requirements, including interpretation of statistical output associated with the changed scope.
    • Focus on web based collection with the aim of maintaining and improving web form response rates. Paper forms will continue to be available for the 2016-17 collection, as we work collaboratively with key stakeholders to co-design electronic surveys going forward.
    • Processing phase (including sample and frame maintenance procedures (SFMP), editing and estimation) of REACS to be conducted by Data Acquisition and Provider Management (DAPM) in Geelong, assuming the successful pilot of the Agricultural Census and LaMPS in 2015-16.

    In designing the 2016-17 REACS, EASB will be looking to lock in a core suite of questions to better support analysis through time and to minimise the need to further change processing systems and metadata as we move into onboarding new capabilities.

    A flexible component is planned for ad hoc user funded and expanded content which will enable EASB to respond to emerging policy requirements. Flexible content for the next two years include:
    • REACS 2016-17: Expanded nurseries content, including a more detailed sectoral split and gross receipts, to allow benchmarking of nurseries data in future Value of Agricultural Commodities Produces (VACP) collection (a shorter version of the question will be incorporated as part of the core content).
    • REACS 2017-18: Expanded water content for production of the Water Accounts, last collected in 2013-14 and due again in 2020-21.

    As part of the Carbon Farming Initiative, EASB - in conjunction with the Geography section - are developing an online location validation module to be integrated into the web instrument for 2016-17. This incorporates an address validation tool that confirms the physical address of the main property, and a properties boundaries tool to identify land parcels associated with each agricultural property using a geospatial map. These will enable EASB to produce a richer, geospatially enabled dataset that can be integrated with other datasets and geographic layers. The address validation tool has been used in 2015-16 and will be improved for 2016-17. Both will be extensively field tested. REACS 2016-17 has been designed to meet the demand for information on rural environment and land management issues, as well as the demand for ongoing collection of agricultural commodity information. Core agricultural commodities and land management practices items will continue to be collected each year.

    REACS 2016-17 is largely ABS funded with some user-funding.

    SCOPE
The scope of the 2016-17 REACS collection is all businesses operating agricultural land in Australia who have an EVAO of $40,000 or greater. This has changed from the former cut-off of $5,000, to align with the scope of ABARES collections and to significantly reduce the burden on small farm businesses in response to the NASR findings. This scope is the same as the 2015-16 Agricultural Census.

Coverage provided from the ABS Business Register (ABSBR) is generally good. Where a unit has not been included in an agricultural survey previously (i.e. has come on to the frame in the 5 years since the last agricultural census) their EVAO is estimated from Standardised Business Activity Statement (BAS) Total Sales (SBTS) – with allowance made for primary production for units outside of the agricultural industries. New units on the Agricultural frame are largely based on new units ‘birthed’ to the ABSBR (ie new ABN applications with associated agricultural activity).


    DATA DETAIL

    Conceptual framework
    The 2016-17 REACS will utilise existing ABS standards and definitions. These will include:
    a) standard definitions of industry as outlined in Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006;
    b) standard definitions of geography as outlined in Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) 2016;
    c) standard definitions of size as maintained by EASB: Area of Holding (AOH); EVAO.

    The survey will utilise standard question wording where available, which is consistent with previous annual agricultural surveys and other business collections to ensure comparability. EASB has ensured that the demographic style questions used in the 2016-17 REACS comply with ABS Social Statistics Standards (e.g. Standard for Sex and Gender Variables, 2016 (cat. no. 1200.0.55.012); Age Standard 2014, Version 1.7 (cat. no. 1200.0.55.006), as well as being consistent with previous REACS.

    The concepts and data collected are compliant with the System of National Accounts (SNA) 2008 and System of Environmental Economic Account (SEEA) frameworks.

    The statistical unit for the collection is the legal entity (Australian Business Number (ABN)) bounded by geography. This statistical unit was first adopted for the 2005-06 Agricultural Census, when the collection moved to a business register based frame.

    REACS provides a measure of agricultural activity. The scope of the 2016-17 REACS collection is all businesses operating agricultural land in Australia who have an EVAO of $40,000 or greater. This has changed from the former cut-off of $5,000, to align with the scope of ABARES collections and to significantly reduce the burden on small farm businesses in response to the NASR findings. This scope is the same as the 2015-16 Agricultural Census.

    A business with agricultural activity is usually a single physical location which is used for the production of crops (including fruit and vegetables) and/or for the raising of livestock and the production of livestock products.
    Businesses in the agricultural industry are classified in accordance with the methodology described in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANSZIC) 2006. (cat. no. 1292.0)

    The ANZSIC codes of agricultural units are determined annually by valuing physical crop and livestock information collected. The valuation procedure allows for the industry classification of individual units to be changed to reflect significant or long term changes in their activities (e.g. a unit may change from the Grain ANZSIC to the Sheep ANZSIC if the farmer changes production patterns).

    The procedure provides for a dampening or resistance effect to offset instability in allocation to particular classes of the classification which would arise from short-term factors such as large price movements, floods and drought. To obviate such effects, the valuation procedure takes into account (without double counting) the area of crops sown and numbers of livestock on holdings at a point in time as well as the crops produced and livestock turn-off during the year.

    The resultant aggregation of commodity values is termed the EVAO. It should be noted that EVAO is applicable only for industry coding and size valuation purposes. It is not an indicator of receipts obtained by units or of the value of agricultural commodities produced by these units.

    Main outputs

Information will be collected from a sample of approximately 30,000 agricultural business on a range of land management practices and agricultural commodities including: land use; livestock; horticulture crops; nurseries, cut flowers and cultivated turf; cereals and other crops; pasture and crop cultivation; crop management; water for agricultural production and irrigation expenditure; soil management; fertiliser use; and farm management.

Preliminary estimates from REACS 2016-17 will be released in Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia, Preliminary (cat.no. 7111.0) in January 2018. Final estimates, including lower level geographies, will be released in March 2018 in Agricultural Commodities, Australia (cat. no. 7121.0).

REACS data is expected to be available at national, state and regional levels (including NRM, SA4, and Murray-Darling Basin).

Water use data from the survey will be released at national, state, and regional level (including NRM, SA4, MDB) in April 2018 in Water Use on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4618.0).

Land management data will be released at national, state, and NRM level in May 2018 in Land Management and Farming in Australia (cat. no. 4627.0).

Estimates for some attributes may not be available due to low occurrence or absence of the particular data items, low quality estimates or confidentiality restrictions.
Specific outputs will also be produced on a user-funded basis for specific clients (government and industry groups).

    Classifications
    The 2016-17 REACS will utilise existing ABS standards and definitions. These will include:
    a) standard definitions of industry as outlined in Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006;
    b) standard definitions of geography as outlined in Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) 2016;
    c) standard definitions of size as maintained by EASB: Area of Holding (AOH); EVAO.

    Other concepts (summary)
    The survey will utilise standard question wording where available, which is consistent with previous annual agricultural surveys and other business collections to ensure comparability. EASB has ensured that the demographic style questions used in the 2016-17 REACS comply with ABS Social Statistics Standards (e.g. Standard for Sex and Gender Variables, 2016 (cat. no. 1200.0.55.012); Age Standard 2014, Version 1.7 (cat. no. 1200.0.55.006), as well as being consistent with previous REACS.

    The concepts and data collected are compliant with the System of National Accounts (SNA) 2008 and System of Environmental Economic Account (SEEA) frameworks.

    GEOGRAPHIC DETAIL
    Australia
    New South Wales
    Victoria
    Queensland
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Tasmania
    Northern Territory
    ACT
    Other (specify below)

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    Data from REACS to also be available at the following geographic levels:

      • NRM
      • SA4
      • Murray-Darling Basin (MDB)

    COLLECTION FREQUENCY
    Annually

    Frequency comments
    Since 2012-13, REACS has been run annually in the years between the five yearly Agricultural Census. The last Agricultural Census reference period was 2015-16.

    COLLECTION HISTORY
    Prior to the 1997/98 cycle, the history of the collection is that of the Agricultural Census.

    2015-16 Agricultural Census + Land Management Practices Survey (LaMPS) - change in EVAO cut-off from $5,000 and over to $40,000 and over
    2014-15 Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey (REACS)
    2013-14 Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey (REACS) + Land Management Practices Survey (LaMPS)
    2012-13 Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey (REACS)
    2011-12 Agricultural Resource Management Survey + Land Management Practices Survey (LaMPS)
    2010-11 Agricultural Census.
    2009-10 Agricultural Resource Management Survey.
    2008-09 Agricultural Survey.
    2007-08 Agricultural Survey.
    2007-08 Agricultural Resource Management Survey.
    2006-07 Agricultural Survey.
    2005-06 Agricultural Census.
    2004-05 Agricultural Survey.
    2003-04 Agricultural Survey.
    2002-03 Agricultural Survey.
    2001-02 Agricultural Survey.
    2000-01 Agricultural Census.
    1999-00 Reference period changed to 'Year Ended 30 June'.
    1997-98 Agricultural Commodity Survey introduced.
    1996-97 Long form, all establishments with an EVAO greater than or equal to $5,000.
    1995-96 Short form, all establishments with an EVAO greater than or equal to $5,000.
    1994-95 Short form, all establishments with an EVAO greater than or equal to $5,000.
    1993-94 Long form. This was the first year of the long form/short form cycle.
    Change in EVAO level to $5,000 and over.
    1992-93 EVAO level to $22,000 and over.
    1991-92 Change in EVAO level to $22,500 and over.
    1990-91 EVAO level to $20,000 and over.
    1989-90 EVAO level to $20,000 and over.
    1988-89 EVAO level to $20,000 and over.
    1987-88 EVAO level to $20,000 and over.
    1986-87 Change in EVAO level to $20,000 and over.
    1982-83 Change in EVAO level to $2,500 and over.
    Prior to this, EVAO level was $1,500 and over.
    Earliest year for which electronic data is available is 1982-83.
    Information before 1982-83 is available only in printed form.

    DATA AVAILABILITY
    Yes

    Data availability comments
    Forms will be despatched in June. Preliminary estimates will be available in January of the following year and final estimates in March of the following year.



    DATE OF LAST UPDATE FOR THIS DOCUMENT
    01/02/2017 06:14 PM