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7105.0 - ABS Agriculture Statistics Collection Strategy - 2008-09 and beyond, 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/02/2009   
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Introduction

This information paper outlines the strategy for the 2008-09 ABS Agricultural Survey. This is the second in a series of three papers resulting from the review of the ABS Agriculture Statistics Program.


The first paper, ABS Agriculture Statistics Strategy - 2008-09 and beyond (cat. no. 7105.0), presented the ABS' understanding of the key agricultural policy issue imperatives and areas of priority for statistical data development. It also outlined proposed changes to the future ABS Agricultural Survey program, aimed at improving the statistical information base relevant to the priority areas.

This second paper outlines the direction and content for the 2008-09 Agricultural Survey. The strategy and survey proposal outlined in this paper is based on an assumed level of funding. Should this level of funding not eventuate, a reduction in the sample size and/or a reduction in the level of detail collected will result.

The third and final paper will address the proposed strategy for the 2009-10 Agricultural Survey and subsequent ABS Agricultural Surveys/Censuses.

Background

The main purpose of the ABS Agricultural Survey program has been to provide reliable and regular information on the Australian agriculture sector. The objectives of the ABS program were described in an earlier information paper: Agricultural Census: ABS views on content and procedures, 2005-06 (cat. no. 7103.0) which described the main objectives of the ABS Agricultural Survey program as:
    1. to largely meet the needs of National Accounts Branch for core production data to derive gross value of agricultural production (output) for the Agriculture Industry (ANZSIC06 Sub-Div 01);
    2. to support the determination and monitoring of agriculture policy;
    3. to support the determination and monitoring of natural resource and water policy as it relates to agriculture;
    4. to support decision makers involved in producing, supplying, marketing and trading agricultural commodities; and
    5. to support the monitoring of issues affecting rural communities.
Historically, the ABS Agricultural Survey program collected data on a wide range of information on agricultural production, livestock numbers, water use and management, water-related expenditure, land use and land management from Australian agricultural businesses. The demand for even more detailed, and a wider range of, economic, social and environmental information from the agricultural sector continues to increase.

As part of the development process for the 2007-08 Agricultural Survey it became evident that the demand on the survey far exceeded the available resources, and acceptable level of provider load. Furthermore, in order to ensure the ABS could deliver its work program within its allocated budget during 2008-09, the Australian Statistician identified a number of saving initiatives, one of which was to reduce content or sample in the 2007-08 Agricultural Survey. Consequently in March 2008, a decision was taken to combine the ABS-funded 2007-08 Agricultural Survey with a new user funded 2007-08 Resource Management Benchmark Survey to form the 2007-08 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS).

The 2007-08 ARMS collected a significantly reduced set of commodity production data (with commodities selected based upon their level of contribution to Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced) as a result of the saving initiative announced by the Australian Statistician, some land use and water data, and a detailed set of resource management and practise data consistent with user funded requirements.

Consultation with key stakeholders confirmed support for the combined 2007-08 ARMS approach, with high demand for expanded commodity production data in the next survey cycle.


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