Guidance

Structure of the agricultural industry: survey notes and guidance

Technical information, notes and guidance on the surveys of the structure of the agricultural industry.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for collecting and publishing a range of statistics about the structure of the farming industry in England and the UK. Land use and livestock data has many uses, from assisting with animal disease control processes to providing information which is used for management of the EU cereals markets. It is also used heavily by environmental policy makers who assess the impact of Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) reform on the agricultural industry and the landscape.

Defra runs regular surveys of English farmers to collect the necessary information if it is not available from other sources. Administrative data, such as information from the cattle tracing system, is used instead of surveys where possible. This helps reduce the form-filling burden on farmers.

June survey of agriculture and horticulture in England

The June survey is a large annual survey that collects detailed information about land use, livestock numbers and the agricultural workforce in England. The survey is compulsory under the Agricultural Statistics Act 1979 and EU legislation. Similar information is collected by the appropriate authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland allowing Defra to produce results for the UK. More information about how the June survey data is collected and analysed is available below.

June survey of agriculture and horticulture in England - methodology (PDF, 397KB, 12 pages)

Farms are classified using standard farm types (eg cereals, dairy, horticulture) so the impact of changes that might affect some types of farm more than others can be analysed. From 2010 these farm types are classified using an economic measure called standard outputs. Standard outputs measure the total value of the output of any one enterprise per head for livestock or per hectare for crops. More information on standard outputs is available below:

June survey standard outputs and farm types (PDF, 180KB, 13 pages)

Completing the June survey of agriculture and horticulture

If you are selected for the survey you will receive either an email request or a survey form in the post in late May or early June. More information about the survey is available below:

Frequently asked questions (PDF, 373KB, 5 pages)

Guidance notes (PDF, 43KB, 2 pages)

If you need help completing the survey our helpline is available from 9:00am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday. Please phone 03000 600 140 or email surveys@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

Users and uses of the June survey of agriculture and horticulture

More information about who uses the information from the June survey of agriculture and horticulture and what they use it for is available below:

Users and uses of the June survey of agriculture and horticulture (PDF, 154KB, 2 pages)

December pig survey

This is a small sample survey of farms that keep pigs. It is used to estimate the size of the pig herd in England at 1 December each year. Information for cattle and sheep is taken from administrative systems to give an overview of livestock numbers in England at 1 December.

EU farm structure survey

There is an EU requirement for all member states to produce statistics about the structure of the agricultural industry every few years (eg 2010 and 2013). The main source of information is the June survey of agriculture and horticulture, but other detailed information is also required. In these years the June survey of agriculture and horticulture is extended to collect other information (eg on the workforce, farm practices or diversified activities), or additional surveys are run.

Annual sheep and goat inventory

There is an EU requirement to hold an annual inventory of sheep and goat keepers for livestock tracing and identification purposes. In England the inventory is held on 1 December each year. Sheep and goat keepers in England will receive either a paper form or an email request to complete their inventory in late November. The inventory can be completed online here.

Since 2010 the information collected by the inventory is used to estimate the size of the English sheep flock at 1 December. More information about the use of the sheep and goat inventory for estimating sheep populations is available below:

Use of the sheep and goat inventory for estimating sheep populations (PDF, 114KB, 6 pages)

Cattle populations

The Cattle Tracing System (CTS), which records births, movements and deaths of cattle in Great Britain, is used to estimate the number of cattle on agricultural holdings on 1 June and 1 December each year. The information is published alongside other survey data to give a complete picture of the structure of the agricultural industry in England. More details about the use of the CTS data in estimating cattle populations is available below:

Use of cattle tracing system data for estimating cattle populations (PDF, 169KB, 24 pages)

Defra statistics: farming

You can also contact us via Twitter: https://twitter.com/DefraStats

Published 8 April 2013
Last updated 5 June 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated FAQ document under 'Completing the June survey of agriculture and horticulture'.
  2. Updated Frequently Asked Questions and Guidance Notes under '‘Completing the June survey of agriculture and horticulture’.
  3. Updated Uses and Users of the June Survey of Agriculture & Horticulture for England document.
  4. Updated to include a guidance note with link.
  5. Updated Frequently Asked Questions and contact telephone number.
  6. Updated Frequently Asked Questions.
  7. Users and uses of the June survey of agriculture and horticulture guidance updated.
  8. Frequently asked questions updated.
  9. Added information on the users and uses of the June survey of agriculture and horticulture.
  10. Added information about completing the annual sheep and goat inventory online.
  11. Updated information about the June 2013 survey of agriculture and horticulture.
  12. Update with link to advice on upgrading to modern web browsers.
  13. Updated to inform users that the June survey can now be completed online.
  14. Updated with information about the June survey.
  15. Added more information about the June survey of agriculture and horticulture to help respondents complete the survey.
  16. Added information for June survey respondents.
  17. First published.