AUSTALIAN farmers and industry organisations are set to benefit from a cutting edge database of Australian farms.
The new, secure and confidential database which focuses on developing, integrating and analysing new large-scale farm level agricultural data sets, is part of the Agricultural Data Integration Project (AgDIP), and has resulted in the release of an in-depth, informative report that unlocks new insights and applications for Australian farms and the agricultural industry.
AgDIP is a collaboration between the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), and was supported by the Australian Government's Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA).
Consisting of data from ABS Agricultural Census and survey data collected since 2000-01, ABARES Executive Director, Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, said the new database was a significant, long-term asset that could be used to inform on key issues including farm productivity drivers, ongoing effects of drought and climate change, and water security.
"The project represents an important milestone both for efforts to extract the best possible value and insight from existing government datasets, and for the development of a new, modern approach to agricultural data and statistics that delivers more to industry and government users, while reducing the respondent burden associated with surveys," he said
The high value of the database was seconded by ABARES Senior Economist and project lead, Dr Neal Hughes, who said that the database could help parties better understand, measure and potentially forecast the effects of drought and climate change across different types of farms.
"This database provides a clearer picture of long-term trends in the agriculture sector, allowing us to publish datasets at finer spatial scales and with more consistency over time, than has been possible in the past," he said.
"There are some exciting future applications, including supporting new approaches to drought risk management for farmers and undertaking detailed evaluations of government programs or farm management practices."
The AgDIP report comes as local farmers and their surrounding communities are being encouraged to voice their opinions on planning issues facing rural and regional NSW.
Feedback is being sought following a report from the Australian Farm Institute (AFI) which deals with competing land purposes.
Member for Bathurst, Paul Toole, said that while agriculture played a critical role in regional economic stability and growth, along with food and fibre supplies to metro areas, it was increasingly under pressure from urban encroachment and land fragmentation.
"As our communities grow they inevitably encroach on what is traditional farming land and this creates issues that can often be systematic of larger planning issues," he said.
"We need to find a balanced approach, one that enables sustainable growth of our communities, but not at the expense of agricultural land use and operations and that is why it is so important all landholders provide their feedback on these comprehensive reports.
The Australian Farm Institute conducted research into land use conflict with farmers in NSW and found that it can impact on their business viability and mental health, and place a strain on our communities."
The NSW Government is committed to improving certainty and consistency for agriculture in the planning framework through an Agricultural Land Use Planning Strategy and is seeking submissions from the public."
Those looking to provide feedback can complete surveys at www.nsw.gov.au/have-your-say.
For more information, the AgDIP report is available at www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/climate/agricultural-data-integration-project, while the AFI report on land use conflict and the Right to Farm Policy Review and Options paper are available at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/lup.
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