Responding to 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.

Need to contact us about completing your agriculture survey? You can use our online Business Surveys Contact Form to outline the details of your situation and we will be in touch.

Thank you for your participation. We acknowledge and value your time and effort participating in our survey. It is only with the support of people like you that we can continue to produce the statistics that inform important decisions affecting Australia's agriculture industry.

Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey (REACS)

The Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey (REACS) is conducted every year, in between the five-yearly Agricultural Census, with agricultural businesses throughout Australia. For detailed information about the REACS, including answers to frequently asked questions, please see our specific Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey page.

Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced Survey

The Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced Survey (VACP) is an annual survey, collecting information on prices paid to growers in Australia for agricultural commodities. For detailed information about the Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced survey, including answers to frequently asked questions, please see our specific Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced Survey page.

Livestock Slaughtered Survey

The Livestock Slaughtered Survey is conducted every quarter with businesses throughout Australia. This survey collects information on the total number of livestock slaughtered and the amount and value of meat produced, by category of livestock. For detailed information about the Livestock Slaughtered Survey, including answers to frequently asked questions, please see our specific Livestock Slaughtered Survey page.

Poultry and Game Birds Slaughtered Survey

The Poultry and Game Birds Slaughtered Survey is conducted every quarter with businesses throughout Australia. This survey collects information about the number of birds slaughtered (by type), the amount of meat produced and the average value per live bird slaughtered. For detailed information about the Poultry and Game Birds Slaughtered Survey, including answers to frequently asked questions, please see our specific Poultry and Game Birds Slaughtered Survey page.

Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales Survey

The Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales Survey is conducted every quarter with businesses throughout Australia. This survey collects information on wool sales, receivals, purchases, interstate movements and stocks. For detailed information about the Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales Survey, including answers to frequently asked questions, please see our specific Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales Survey page.

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 and water estimates were also released in July 2017 in the publication Water use on Australian Farms.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

ABOUT OUR AGRICULTURE SURVEYS


ABOUT THE QUESTIONS IN OUR AGRICULTURE SURVEYS


CONTACT US


ABOUT OUR AGRICULTURE SURVEYS

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.

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. These include the: Wool Receivals, Purchases and Sales; Poultry and Game Birds Slaughtered Survey; and Livestock Slaughtered collections. Data on livestock slaughtering was previously collected from large abattoirs and smaller slaughtering establishments on a monthly basis, but will transition to quarterly surveys from September 2020. This collection provides the information necessary to assist industry to understand movements in the Australian meat market. Information on wool receivals, purchases and sales and poultry and game birds are collected quarterly and is used to inform parts of the agricultural industry in addition to feeding into the compilation of the Australian National Accounts.

Could this business 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 categorised random sample of the remaining smaller businesses is then also selected in these survey years.

Why is this business included in more than one agricultural/land management practices 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.

We are a small farm or business: should we be included in this survey?

The ABS considers the activities of small businesses or organisations to be as important as larger ones. Therefore, they cannot be excluded from participation in ABS surveys. Smaller businesses or organisations have specific characteristics and can be impacted differently by government policies and incentives. Answering the questions in our agriculture surveys helps enable government and others to best design policies that support the broad range of businesses across the states and territories of Australia.

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.

Do we have to answer the questions?

Yes. Under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, you are obliged to provide the information requested by the ABS. All the information you provide will remain strictly confidential.

We recognise that your business may have been impacted by recent unprecedented events, including natural disasters or the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Our aim is to ensure that Australia has access to the best possible information on the social and economic impacts of these events. Your participation in our surveys at this time is critical in informing our country’s response. By completing this survey, you help to ensure the results truly reflect the current state of Australian agriculture.

You can use the final comment box in the form to tell us about current business conditions and your expectations for the coming months, as well as provide any further comments on information you have provided in the survey.

We understand this is a difficult time and we are here to help. We conduct follow-up of delayed response and we will assist you if you are having difficulties.

Isn’t the information you’re asking for available elsewhere?

All of our agriculture surveys are a critical source of information on the agricultural industry in Australia. However, the ABS is working with industry bodies and other government departments to make better use of available information sources.

Combining data helps provide a clearer picture of Australia than what can be achieved by any one survey alone, and creates new insights about our society and the economy. By using multiple sources of information, we reduce the amount of information that Australian businesses and households need to provide.

Do we have to provide the information for this survey right now?

Yes. The industry, business and government users of our agriculture statistics need the most accurate and timely information possible so they can make well-informed decisions which impact Australian businesses and communities.

We recognise that your business may have been impacted by recent unprecedented events, including natural disasters or the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. If your ability to respond to this survey has been impacted by these events, please contact us. If you'd like to speak to one of our team or need help providing the requested information, please call us on 1300 135 070 and one of our friendly team will assist you.

How is the information from this survey used? Why is it important?

Your participation in our agriculture surveys provides us with data that is essential for producing statistics on Australia's agricultural commodity production and activity. This data assists policy makers, industry groups and producers with planning and budgeting, and informs important decisions about agricultural issues.

The statistics published from this survey are drawn upon by a wide variety of individuals and organisations in both the public and private sector, with major users including:
  • National Farmers Federation
  • Agriculture service companies
  • Geoscience Australia
  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • Reserve Bank of Australia
  • Commonwealth Department of Treasury and the State Treasuries
  • State and Commonwealth Government departments and agencies
  • Schools, universities and other educational institutions
  • Market analysts and economists
  • Media

The information you provide in the survey is not shared with any individuals or organisations outside of the ABS.

Will we be paid for our time?

No. There is no provision within the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to reimburse individuals, businesses or organisations for the cost of providing statistical information. In line with other national statistical organisations throughout the world, individuals, businesses and other organisations are asked to supply information for statistical purposes without compensation. It is only with the support of people like you that we can continue to produce the statistics that inform Australia's important decisions.

Will the information we provide be kept safe, secure, and confidential?

Yes. We take the security of the information you provide to us very seriously. Your completed form and personal information will remain strictly confidential to the ABS. The information is used to calculate statistics and these are only released in the form of aggregated data.

The information in this survey is collected under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Under the Act, staff of the ABS are obliged to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of information provided.

We comply with the Australian Privacy Principles. If you believe we have breached these principles, please see the information on how to lodge a complaint about privacy matters, contained within our privacy policy.

We have already completed the survey and have received a reminder letter. What should we do?

If you have received a reminder letter about completing a survey, it is likely that you have returned the survey at the same time as we issued your reminder notice. If you wish to confirm this, please call one of our team on 1300 135 070 and we will check the information against our records.


ABOUT THE QUESTIONS IN OUR AGRICULTURE SURVEYS

How accurate do the figures need to be?

We require information to be as accurate as possible. The information supplied by your business is used to produce estimates which represent businesses within the same industry operating in Australia. The more accurate the figures you supply, the more accurate the estimates will be. However, if final production figures are unknown or not available, careful estimates will be accepted.

Why is the survey form we have received full of questions about activities in which we are not involved?

We design our agriculture survey forms to capture a wide range of commodities and agricultural production practices undertaken across all regions, territories and states. Therefore, there will always be some questions on each form that are not relevant to some agricultural businesses.

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.

Can we use the statistics produced from this survey?

Yes. We provide statistics free of charge on our website. Statistics produced from our agriculture surveys are released in the following publications:

Our website also provides additional and up-to-date information over and above our existing statistical releases to enhance understanding of the impacts of COVID-19, in Measuring the impacts of COVID-19.


USING ABS AGRICULTURE STATISTICS

How can we provide feedback about our involvement in an ABS agriculture survey?

If you have participated in any of our agriculture surveys, or any of our other surveys, we want to hear about your experience. We value your feedback and will use it to improve how we work with our survey participants.

You can use the final comment box at the end of the form to tell us about your experience participating in the survey, along with any suggested improvements to the form.

You can also use our feedback form to provide us with feedback. For this survey, please select the option "Participation in an ABS Business Survey".

Who can we contact for more information?

For help, or more information about this survey, please call us on 1300 135 070 during business hours. For help outside these hours, please leave a message with your contact details and we will call you back.

You can also use our online Business Surveys Contact Form to outline the details of your situation and your contact details, and we will be in touch.

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