HC Deb 19 May 2004 vol 421 c974W
Andrew George

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has for the future administration of the annual June agricultural census. [166447]

Alun Michael

The annual June Agricultural and Horticultural Census is an important survey. We continue to develop it with a view to reducing the burden on both respondents and the taxpayer. Following a review with our statistical advisers, we have concluded the sample sizes can be reduced in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009 when we do not need to run such large surveys for EU purposes. The sample size for 2004 is being reduced from 75,000 holdings to about 50,000. While this will reduces the precision at the local levels, this will be minimised by the use of available administrative sources. Increasing numbers of farmers and growers are now completing survey forms electronically and we will be developing our electronic data collection as part of the Whole Farm Approach initiative.