The Agricultural Census is in the Farmers' Mail!, Jun 2001

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The Agricultural Census is in the Farmers' Mail!

The 2001 Agricultural Census, due to arrive in mail-boxes this week, is a good opportunity for farmers to ensure that Australia's decision makers know what is happening in the rural sector.

Up-to-date information about farm production, land use and land management practices will assist industry and government in planning, policy development and marketing strategies that benefit Australian rural communities.

"A good Agricultural Census is vital to understand what is happening on the land," said Deputy Australian Statistician in charge of the Agricultural Census, Rob Edwards.

"It is a national stocktake of agricultural activity and forms the basis for informed decision-making for Australia's agricultural industries. With the census we can build a detailed picture of Australian agriculture to help make good decisions at the national, state and regional level.

"It really is important that all 160,000 farmers in Australia get behind the Agricultural Census over the next month.

"The form is easy to fill in, no financial information is required and you won't need to visit the accountant."

Mr Edwards said the commodity production data from the census were used by marketing authorities to help promote exports of agricultural commodities, while local councils and shires used them to assist in planning and development of infrastructure in their area.

"Census data can be used to help identify the best place for new transport facilities, grain terminals or a new meat processing plant," he said.

Mr Edwards said farmers would receive their Agricultural Census forms in the mail over the next week, and were being asked to return them by mid-July.

The Agricultural Census had a unique place in Australian rural life.

"The Agricultural Census, in one form or another, has been going for more than 140 years and is one of the longest-running statistical collections in Australia. It's as much a rural tradition as a blue-heeler, a ute or elastic-sided boots," he said.

"Over the years, Australia's economy has changed and the Agricultural Census has been forced to change with it. In the beginning all we needed to do was count commodities, but today that's not enough. Today we have to look at the business of agriculture and more of the things that go with it, such as land management."

Mr Edwards said the ABS had a "rock-solid" reputation for producing independent and credible statistics and for maintaining the privacy of all of its respondents.

"Under the Census and Statistics Act, we are bound to protect your privacy, and it's an obligation we take very seriously," he said.

Further information is available on the Agricultural Census Home Page.