Survey Participant Information - Agricultural Surveys

If you have received a survey form related to agriculture from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), this page will help you understand the purpose of these surveys and will provide answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). A list of contacts is also provided for further information on any aspect of these collections.


Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey

The Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey provides benchmark data on agricultural commodity production, water use and natural resource management. The Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey is a large scale survey undertaken annually between the five yearly Agricultural Censuses. In 2018-19 the survey will cover approximately 27,000 agricultural businesses.

The survey is designed to inform and support decision making and analysis by a wide variety of stakeholders across government, industry, the research sector and wider community. This survey provides high quality agricultural commodity production and activity data (including area and production of crops and area irrigated, number of livestock and number of producers for each commodity) at national, state and regional levels. The survey is also the major source of commodity data used in the calculation of Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced in inter-census years and is used as an input to the Australian National Accounts.

Estimates from the Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey will be disseminated via publications and data cubes released to our website. Commodity estimates will be released in the publication Agricultural Commodities, Australia (cat. no. 7121.0), water estimates will be released in the publication Water use on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4618.0) and estimates for land management and farming practices in Land Management and Farming in Australia (cat. no. 4627.0).


Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced

The Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced collection provides an estimate of the value of agricultural production in Australia by commodity and geographical areas. Data is sourced from various ABS collections including Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced Price Surveys as well as quality administrative data sets. These data sources are used to estimate an average state level price for each commodity which is then applied to production data from the Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey to generate value of agricultural production estimates.

The Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced collection is a key contributor to the Australian National Accounts. Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced data is also used by the State Departments of Agriculture in policy formulation, by ABARES for the production of trends and forecasts for the agricultural sector, and by the Department of Agriculture to inform the determination of funding levels for research and development grants to industry bodies.

Estimates from the Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced collection will be disseminated via publications and data cubes released to our website. Estimates for all commodities will be released in the publication Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia (cat. no. 7503.0).


Livestock Slaughtered Survey

The Livestock Slaughtered Survey is conducted monthly. We produce quarterly livestock product data for Australian National Accounts purposes, and to inform researchers and industry analysts. User-funding supports the inter-quarter months collection of Livestock Slaughtered data.

Monthly Livestock Slaughtered estimates are released to our website in the publication Livestock and Meat, Australia (cat. no. 7218.0.55.001).

Quarterly Livestock, Poultry and Wool estimates are released to our website in the publication Livestock Products, Australia (cat. no. 7215.0). This includes estimates of Australia's production of wool, milk, chicken meat, meat from livestock and exports of livestock. Three ABS collections contribute to the data, namely the Livestock Slaughtered Survey, the Poultry and Game Birds Slaughtered Survey and the Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales Survey. This data contributes to both the Australian National Accounts and the Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, and is also used by key external data users to monitor meat and wool production levels, to inform decisions about the industry.


Poultry and Game Birds Slaughtered Survey

The Poultry and Game Birds Slaughtered Survey is conducted quarterly. It collects information about the number of poultry slaughtered (by type), the amount of meat produced and the average value per live bird slaughtered. Data contributes to the quarterly publication Livestock Products, Australia (cat. no. 7215.0).


Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales Survey

The Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales Survey is conducted quarterly. It collects information from wool brokers and dealers on wool sales, receivals, purchases, interstate movements and stocks. Data contributes to the quarterly publication Livestock Products, Australia (cat. no. 7215.0).


Agricultural Census

The Agricultural Census was last run in 2015-16. It provides benchmark national, state and sub-state data on agricultural commodity production, water use and natural resource management. Commodity estimates were released in July 2017 in the publication Agricultural Commodities, Australia (cat. no. 7121.0) and water estimates were also released in July 2017 in the publication Water use on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4618.0).



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


1. Why does the ABS send out these survey forms relating to agriculture and land management practices?
2. Why are agricultural collections run so regularly?
3. Could I be selected in a survey every year?
4. Why am I included in more than one agricultural/land management practices survey?
5. My business is small, why do you need my information?
6. Do I have to fill it in?
7. Why is the survey form I have received full of questions about activities in which I am not involved?
8. Who uses the data I supply?
9. Why wasn't there a question on . . .?
10. I have already sent you the information requested.

PRIVACY AND ACCURACY


11. Isn't this an intrusion into my private business? Is confidentiality guaranteed?
12. Why don't you pay people to fill in your forms and why can't we have more time to fill them in?
13. How accurate do the figures need to be?
14. Can't the ABS collect this data from other sources?


1. Why does the ABS send out these survey forms relating to agriculture and land management practices?

We conduct a number of collections designed to obtain the statistics necessary to keep the agricultural community informed. This data assists policy makers, industry groups and producers with planning and budgeting and informs important decisions about agricultural issues.

Every five years we conduct a census of all in-scope agricultural businesses to collect agricultural commodity data and natural resource management data. In the intervening years, sample surveys involving large businesses and a random sample of small businesses are conducted. In addition, we undertake a number of smaller specialised agricultural collections including the: Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales; and Livestock Slaughtered collections.

2. Why are agricultural collections run so regularly?

There are a number of reasons why it is necessary to collect agricultural production and land management information every year. One reason is the variability of Australian climatic conditions which may cause significant annual variations in the types and quantities of agricultural goods produced and the practices employed in their production.

Another reason is the importance of agriculture to the Australian economy. Statistics on agriculture are used in compiling the Australian National Accounts figures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and it is essential that data is collected on an annual basis to ensure the value of agriculture is reflected accurately in these figures.

However, it is only once every five years that we conduct an Agricultural Census of all agricultural businesses across Australia. This collection is particularly important as it provides statistics on agricultural production and natural resource management at the regional (sub-state/territory) level. Periodically we also run collections targeted at specific agricultural industries or topics related to agriculture or land management practices, on a partially or fully user-funded basis. These include the: Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales; and Livestock Slaughtered collections. Data on livestock slaughtering is collected from the large abattoirs on a monthly basis with a number of small abattoirs approached annually. This collection provides the information necessary to assist industry to understand movements in the market. Information on wool receivals, purchases and sales is collected quarterly and is used to inform the wool industry in addition to feeding into the compilation of the Australian National Accounts.

3. Could I be selected in a survey every year?

In an Agricultural Census year (once every five years), all in-scope agricultural businesses are sent an Agricultural Census form (the most recent Agricultural Census was conducted in 2015-16). In non-Agricultural Census years, sample surveys are undertaken where large businesses that make a major contribution to production of particular commodities in their region or industry are sent a survey form. A stratified random sample of the remaining smaller businesses is then also selected in these survey years.

4. Why am I included in more than one agricultural survey?

Our agricultural surveys cover a broad range of industries and regions. Agricultural businesses with diverse operations (for example, involved in cropping and livestock production) may find themselves selected in multiple surveys. Large businesses that make a major contribution to production of particular commodities in their region or industry are more likely to be selected in multiple surveys due to their significance.
If your agriculture business has been selected in more than one survey, a response to each is very important as your business has been chosen to represent similar businesses in that region and/or industry.

5. My business is small, why do you need my information?

Smaller businesses have different characteristics to larger businesses, and make an important contribution to the Australian economy, especially at state and territory levels. Consequently, we consider it essential to include a sample of smaller businesses in a survey together with larger businesses to ensure comprehensive representation and accuracy of data.

If your small business has been selected in an ABS agriculture-related survey it will be representing a number of other businesses of a similar size. In a survey year when not all agricultural businesses receive a survey form, it is important that all business size ranges are represented so there is a fair representation of the target population and no bias introduced to the estimates.

6. Do I have to fill it in?

We rely on the goodwill of individuals and businesses in Australia to provide accurate information as requested. The vast majority of farmers (and other businesses) respond to our requests for information. However, the Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the Australian Statistician with the power, if necessary, to direct you in writing to answer the questions.

7. Why is the survey form I have received full of questions about activities in which I am not involved?

We design forms to capture the full range of commodities and land management practices undertaken across all states, territories and regions, and therefore, there will always be some questions on each form that are not relevant to some agricultural businesses. Form sequencing is used to ensure that businesses do not have to complete questions that are not relevant to them.

8. Who uses the data I supply?

The agricultural and land management practices data that we produce is used by a variety of individuals and organisations in both the government and private industry. The information is used by the Australian Government and state/territory governments for planning, budgeting and policy development. Industry organisations and other producer associations use the data to support submissions to government and to better represent their members. Agriculture service companies also use our data in their planning to improve their capacity to meet the needs of their clients in the farming community. The commodity data also contributes to the Australian National Accounts.

9. Why wasn't there a question on . . . ?

Questions on agricultural survey forms are determined in consultation with the major data users relevant to each collection. When determining what questions to include in a survey, we consider a range of factors, including: whether information can be obtained from other sources; why the data is needed; how the information will be obtained; ability of businesses to provide the information; and costs.
Each year we ask a number of primary producers to test proposed questions for the agricultural collections to ensure they can be readily understood and easily completed. In addition, we rely on information provided through your comments on the back of the forms. Your contributions are encouraged and valued and we make use of them where possible.

A consultation process is conducted each year to identify potential emerging topics for inclusion for the annual agricultural sample surveys and for the five-yearly Agricultural Census. For more information, please contact us.

10. I have already sent you the information requested.

If you believe you have already provided the information requested by us through a survey or other means, please contact us.

11. Isn't this an intrusion into my private business? Is confidentiality guaranteed?

We have a responsibility to ensure that we provide a quality statistical service whilst also protecting the privacy rights of those individuals or businesses who provide information to us. Your completed form remains confidential to us and statistics will only be published in the form of aggregated data. In some circumstances very detailed statistics could relate to agricultural production data for a single business. Agricultural businesses who can show that their information may be identified in the detailed statistics published by us, can apply to us to further aggregate the data to avoid such identification. The Australian Statistician and all ABS officers are bound by the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to observe the strictest confidence in regard to the information supplied by providers. The Act provides for penalties of up to $5,000 and/or two years in jail, or both, against officers who breach this rule.

12. Why don't you pay people to fill in your forms and why can't we have more time to fill them in?

We appreciate that considerable time and effort is required on the part of businesses to complete our forms. However, there is no provision within the Census & Statistics Act 1905 to reimburse businesses and individuals for the cost of providing statistical information. We rely on the cooperation of individuals, businesses and other organisations to supply information for statistical purposes without compensation. It is important that we receive data from providers in a timely manner so that the resulting information can be released as soon as possible after the period to which it relates. In the case of the annual collections, if you are unable to supply data because it will not be available for some weeks, you may ask for an extension of time. As timing is particularly important for monthly collections, we ask that a careful estimate be provided to assist the timely release of data. We also encourage providers to contact us if they need any help in completing the survey form.

13. How accurate do the figures need to be?

We require information that is as accurate as possible. The data supplied by your business contributes to estimates relating to all agricultural businesses (of a similar nature) operating in Australia. The more accurate the figures you supply, the more accurate the total estimate will be. However, if exact data is not readily available, careful estimates will be accepted.

14. Can't the ABS collect this data from other sources?

In deciding to undertake an agricultural collection, we consider the range of other data sources available, whether the information could be collected via other means and the suitability of the topic for collection via an ABS survey.

While there are other organisations that collect agricultural and land management practices data, we provide the most comprehensive set of information to support the agriculture industry.

CONTACTS


If you need help with any of our surveys, or wish to provide comments on the surveys or survey content, you can:

Phone us:

National Information and Referral Service (NIRS)

1300 135 070

Write to us, stating the name of the survey:


Australian Bureau of Statistics
Reply Paid 91263
Dandenong South VIC 3175

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how we will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

We are grateful for the cooperation of data providers in returning their completed forms promptly to enable early processing and release of results for our collections. We look forward to your continued support.

Thank you