The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is working to modernise the way we produce official agriculture statistics. We are working with agriculture experts to co-design methods that maximise the use of existing administrative data. As well as improving the timeliness and regional detail of statistics, this approach may reduce reporting burden for farmers and the agriculture industry.
A significant existing administrative data source is the levy payer data generated during the sale of agricultural commodities. Levies are collected by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) for the purpose of funding agricultural research.
ABS’ initial investigation of the levy payer data shows that it has the potential to replace the need to collect certain information from farmers via surveys in the future. This analysis considers the suitability of levy payer data as an important component in producing national and state level statistics for a selection of high value broadacre crops, specifically: wheat, oats, barley, sorghum and canola.
Further work will be required to compare the levy payer data with survey-based data over additional time periods and for smaller regions to determine its full utility. Investigation into additional data sources and methods for measuring the on-farm use of some grains will be required to complement the levy payer data in measuring production.
Levy payer information as an alternative data source
Levies are collected on the sale of agricultural commodities for the purpose of funding agricultural Research and Development Corporations. The Levy Payer Register collects detailed information about levies paid on broadacre crops from individual producers. This information is available from the 2019-20 financial year and includes:
- Quantity of commodity sold by levy payer
- Amount paid to the levy payer for the sale of the commodity
- Business address of each levy payer (from which it is possible to determine an approximate farm location)
Using the existing levy payer data to produce a range of agricultural statistics has the potential to produce more timely statistics with greater regional detail and reduce the reporting burden on farmers by not asking them for information that is already held by government.
This analysis compares levy payer data with ABS data at State and National levels.
Estimating production and value
The ABS currently measures the contribution of agriculture to the Australian economy through an annual estimate of the Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced (VACP).
The VACP measures both Gross Value and Local Value by multiplying production by gross unit value or local unit value for each individual commodity type. Surveys are the main data source used in the calculation of these statistics.
Gross unit value
Gross unit value represents the price per unit of the commodity when it is relinquished by the agricultural industry. Gross unit value includes sales costs which are the marketing and transport costs required to move the commodity from the farm to a point of sale such as a fresh food market, a factory or for export.
Local unit value
Local unit value represents the price per unit that the farmer receives for producing the commodity and does not include the sales costs.
Production of different commodity types is estimated from the annual agricultural survey or census and published in Agricultural Commodities, Australia.