In late February 2018 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) hosted the second Agricultural Statistics Roundtable.
The Roundtable, attended by representatives of Research and Development Corporations, other industry representative groups and state and federal government agencies, discussed opportunities to advance the transformation of the agricultural statistics system as described in the Roadmap to improving the agricultural statistics system.
A significant portion of the roundtable was dedicated to identifying key priorities and opportunities for collaboration in 2018–19 and beyond. Through facilitated discussions, a number of ‘big ideas’ were identified that had the potential to significantly improve agricultural statistics. These included:
- Common property identifiers in datasets
The ability to consistently link data collected on an individual farm to its physical location is expected to facilitate the integration of multiple data sources, with the potential to reduce respondent burden and improve the availability of data for on-farm decision making, industry research and government policy making.
- Common metadata standards
The use of a common metadata standards by agricultural data holders is expected to improve the discoverability of data and facilitate the integration of multiple data sources, with the potential to support improvements in statistical accuracy and usefulness to individuals, industry and government.
- Harvesting farm management system data
Capturing relevant agricultural data directly from farm management systems for use in the production of statistics has the potential to reduce respondent burden in completing surveys (e.g. ABS Agricultural Census) and provide more timely and accurate statistics for users.
- Integrated data platform
Consolidating available agricultural data captured by industry and government onto a single platform has the potential to reduce duplicative collection activities and improve the discoverability and accessibility of statistics for individuals, industry and government. The cross industry and government effort to develop the platform is expected to encourage further collaborations, with the potential to enhance research and policy outcomes.
- Harvesting industry levy data
The ability to use administrative data, such as agricultural levy data reported to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, has the potential to reduce respondent burden in completing surveys and provide more timely and accurate statistics for users.
- Surveys marketplace
A platform for industry and government stakeholders to advertise and search upcoming survey collections is expected to encourage greater collaboration among stakeholders with similar data needs. Increased collaboration in collection activities has the potential to reduce respondent burden in completing surveys, streamline resource use by survey collectors and encourage the use of consistent data standards to facilitate integration.
Over the next 12 months, the ABS and ABARES will pursue these ideas. A particular focus will be placed on scoping the major system requirements and resourcing needs for an integrated data platform and surveys marketplace. The other ideas listed above are viewed as critical enabling tools for these projects and will also be pursued within this context.
At the conclusion of this scoping exercise, government and industry partners are expected to possess a well-defined, costed and supported work program ready for implementation. To support government investment in the project, industry partners are expected to provide substantial resources and contribute expertise during the design, build and testing phases.
The continued engagement of industry and government stakeholders is critical to the development of a work program that offers the greatest benefit to, and is owned by, all participants. The ABS and ABARES welcomes the ongoing support and engagement of stakeholders and will pursue opportunities to deepen collaborative ties.