1 This publication contains final estimates for land management data items collected in the 2016-17 Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey (REACS). Included are estimates on agricultural land use and land management practices being undertaken by Australian agricultural businesses.
2 National, state/territory and Natural Resource Management (NRM) level estimates are presented in this release.
3 The REACS is conducted annually in the years between the five-yearly Agricultural Census.
4 Estimates in this publication are based on information obtained from the REACS for the financial year ended 30 June 2017. A copy of the 2016-17 REACS survey form can be found under the Data downloads section of this publication.
Scope and coverage
5 The scope of the 2016-17 REACS was all businesses undertaking agricultural activity recorded on the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Business Register (ABSBR) above a minimum threshold applied to the estimated value of their agricultural operations.
6 The ABSBR is based on the Australian Business Register (ABR). Most businesses and organisations in Australia are required to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for their business operations. The ABR stores details about businesses and organisations when they register for an ABN.
7 For the purposes of this survey a business (statistical unit) is identified as undertaking agricultural activity if any of the primary or secondary productive activities of that business fall within the Agriculture Subdivision (Subdivision 01) as defined by the 2006 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). For more information, please refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) (cat. no. 1292.0).
8 Estimated Value of Agricultural Operations (EVAO) was used to determine whether agricultural business operations were in-scope for the 2016-17 REACS. EVAO is an ABS construct used to estimate the relative size of agricultural activity undertaken by a business. Three-year average weighted prices are applied to livestock sales and livestock numbers on the farm, and to area and production data for crops. The resultant aggregation of these commodity values is the EVAO. It is not an indicator of the value of receipts of individual farms (turnover) but rather an indicator of the size or extent of agricultural activity. A three year average weight price is used to minimise the effects of both large movements in commodity prices and seasonal conditions which may otherwise unduly influence a business’ EVAO. For businesses with no previously reported agricultural activity a derived value of operations based on turnover reported in its Businesses Activity Statement (BAS) is used as a proxy with only those businesses with an in-cycle EVAO above the minimum threshold contributing to estimates.
9 The scope for the 2016-17 REACS was all agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater. This is a change from previous REACS collections, where a scope of EVAO of $5,000 or greater was used, and this is a continuation of the scope used in the 2015-16 Agricultural Census.
10 As a result of the change in scope, the estimates from the 2016-17 REACS will not be directly comparable to previous published REACS outputs. To address this, additional estimates have been produced from a number of rural environment and agricultural commodity collections from 2010-11 to 2014-15, including the 2011-12 and 2013-14 land management practices collections using an EVAO of $40,000 or greater. These estimates are now available at the national, state/territory levels and sub-state levels on the ABS website.
11 The 2016-17 REACS final estimates are based on the achieved target response rate of 82.4% from a sample of 30,466 agricultural businesses selected.
Reliability of estimates (sample error)
12 The estimates in this publication are based on information obtained from agricultural businesses that responded to the 2016-17 REACS. The sample population for the survey is drawn from the total agricultural business population in scope of the collection. The estimates are subject to sampling variability; that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been produced if all businesses had been included in the survey.
13 One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE) which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample was taken or received. There are approximately two chances in three that a 'sample' estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if all establishments had responded or been reported for, and approximately 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than two SEs.
14 In this publication, 'sampling' variability of the estimates is measured by the relative standard error (RSE) which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. Most published estimates have RSEs less than 10%. Estimates that have an estimated RSE between 10% and 25% should be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for some purposes. Estimates with an RSE between 25% and 50% should also be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for most practical purposes. Estimates with an RSE greater than 50% are considered too unreliable for general use.
15 RSEs for all published estimates are available on request.
Reliability of estimates (non-sample error)
16 Editing is used in ABS business surveys to correct a number of non-sampling errors such as misunderstanding of questions or instructions, mis-coding, non-availability of data, non-response and non-contact. ABS Rural Environment and Agricultural Collections output a large number of data items across multiple regions (Australia, State/Territory and a range of sub-state regions) and industry breakdowns. While every effort is made to ensure these data items are of high quality, limited resources mean that not all potential non-sampling errors can be addressed in a timely manner.
17 A hierarchical significance based editing approach to these output estimates is utilised to maximise the effectiveness of editing on the quality of the estimates whilst managing the overall editing load. This approach involves ranking each of the estimates based on their significance relative to other estimates, with higher ranked estimates being investigated further. This targeted approach ensures that editing resources are focussed on the most important anomalies.
18 This hierarchical editing approach does mean that some estimates will have had less editing resource directed to them. A potential consequence of the reduced editing effort is that users may notice inconsistencies when comparing various population totals across different estimate types, especially in the case of smaller estimates and/or finer breakdowns.
Rounding and confidentiality
19 Where figures for individual states or territories have been suppressed for reasons of confidentiality, they have been included in relevant totals.
20 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
21 Final estimates from the 2016-17 REACS for agricultural land use, crop and horticultural area and production, livestock numbers and farm management, and demographics are available in Agricultural Commodities, Australia (cat. no. 7121.0) and water use estimates are available in Water Use on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4618.0).
22 Final estimates of the gross value of agricultural commodities from the 2016-17 Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced Collection are available in Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia (cat. no. 7503.0).
23 ABS publications related to the 2016-17 REACS can be accessed under the Statistics page on the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead.
ABS data available on request
24 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
25 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated. Without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.