New information sources and strategies to tell Australian agriculture

New information sources and strategies to tell Australian agriculture

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Agricultural Statistics Program is moving to new data sources to meet the demand for more timely agricultural statistics with greater regional detail.

The growing use of technology and data in the agricultural sector means data generation through existing farming and agricultural business processes is now more common than before.

Rob Walter, ABS head of agricultural statistics, said these new data sources are often faster to access and include more detail than traditional survey data.

“This means we can improve the timeliness and regional detail of agricultural statistics which is important to support good decision-making about things like biosecurity or natural disaster response, which are often quite localised,”

“We are working with industry experts to help identify which data sources are best to use, and to co-design methods to produce statistics from these. This collaborative approach helps to build trust in the resulting statistics because they make sense with other data sources used within the industry,” Mr Walter said.  

The ABS Agricultural Statistics Program is stopping large agricultural surveys and developing processes to produce future agricultural statistics using these new data sources together with smaller surveys to fill data gaps.

“The ABS has made this decision to stop the large agricultural surveys now because existing public and private sector data sources present an opportunity to improve agricultural statistics and we’re aware of the need to reduce reporting burden on farmers,” Mr Walter said.

The complexity of negotiating data access and developing new methods across a broad range of agricultural commodities means that there will be some gaps in the ABS’ agricultural statistics in the short term.

The modernisation of official agricultural statistics is not something that the ABS is doing in isolation. Support from other organisations to help develop new data sources and produce complementary statistics to meet evolving information needs will be essential.

“We will engage in partnerships between farmers, agribusinesses, industry, academia, and governments as they will be essential in ensuring that the existing data is used in the best possible way to produce the statistics that are needed to support Australian agriculture.”

More Information about this transition can be found in the Modernising ABS Agricultural Statistics information paper.

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