What is an Agricultural Census (RA)?

A census is an exhaustive survey in which all the target universe is surveyed. In the case of the agricultural census, these statistical units are the agricultural holdings in the country. This national survey is carried out every ten years.


Why is it important?

The implementation of the Agricultural Census makes it possible to meet national and international statistical needs (FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization, of the United Nations, and the EU - European Union). Its aim is to provide an up-to-date overview of the structure of agricultural activities from an economic, social and environmental point of view and, as main variables, the size of agricultural holdings, land use, the number and category of livestock and the agricultural labor force. European legislation requires all Member States to comply with it, ensuring that a common general framework (conceptual and methodological) exists for the various EU countries, which enables the collection of harmonized and comparable results.


What is it used for?

In addition to enabling Portugal to meet its international obligations, the carrying out of the RA has a clear national interest because:

  •  its results help to feature the country's agriculture, production structures, rural population and agricultural production methods. This knowledge is essential for decision making in different areas such as economic, regional, social and even business policies;
  •  it is the only exhaustive data source of agricultural information - it collects data on all agricultural holdings - allowing results to be obtained at very detailed geographical levels such as the Parish or Municipality (Municipality). This type of information is of great interest to users such as companies, regional institutions and scientific research institutions;
  •  it allows a sampling base to be set up (selection of groups of agricultural holdings representative of certain sectoral realities which will make up the samples of future surveys) making it possible for the sample surveys on agriculture to be carried out over the next 10 years, i.e. until the next census.


Who is responsible for it?

Statistics Portugal is the responsible entity for the design, collection, processing and dissemination of the RA. It has the collaboration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development (Portuguese acronym MAFDR) on the mainland part of the operation. In the autonomous regions, the operation is conducted by the regional statistical offices: Statistics Azores (SREA) and the Regional Directorate of Statistics of Madeira (DREM).


Who is the RA addressed to?

The survey is addressed to the holder (farmer) who is the person responsible (legal and economic) for the holding, i.e. the natural or legal person on whose behalf and in whose name the holding produces, receives the benefits (income, profits) and bears any losses (expenditure, expenditure) by taking decisions concerning the production system, investments, loans, etc.

The farmer is the person responsible for providing information, as requested by Statistics Portugal, on the crops, livestock, farm machinery, farming practices, etc., of his holding.


How do one answers to the national agricultural censuses?

By direct interview, i.e. farmers answer the questions that are asked in person by Statistics Portugal interviewers. They receive special training to conduct the interview, clarify doubts and fill in the questionnaires.


How is it carried out?

A body of interviewers duly prepared and accredited by Statistics Portugal collects, from the agricultural producers, the information needed to fill in the questionnaires.


Is it mandatory to answer to the RA?

All operations carried out by Statistics Portugal imply mandatory responses, in accordance with Law 22/2008 of 13 May. (link to access the law in Portuguese). In addition, under European legislation, it is a compulsory statistical operation. Agricultural producers contacted to reply should actively collaborate in order to provide the data requested by the interviewer to complete the questionnaire, within the deadlines set. In case of refusal, Statistics Portugal may initiate administrative offence proceedings in accordance with the law.


How is individual data handled?

According to Article 6 of Law 22/2008 of 13 May (link to access the law in Portuguese), all individual statistical data collected by the statistical authorities are of a confidential nature, therefore:

a) Cannot be made available to any persons or entities or be issued with a certificate;

b) No service or authority may order or authorize its examination;

c) They shall not be disclosed in a way that would allow the direct or indirect identification of the natural or legal persons to whom they relate;

d) They shall constitute professional secrecy, even after their duties have ceased, with regard to all officials, servants and other persons who come to their knowledge in any capacity whatsoever in the course of or by reason of their duties in connection with official statistical activity.

It is therefore in a context of security of integrity and confidentiality of the information it collects and processes for statistical purposes that Statistics Portugal also complies with personal data protection legislation and respects the rights of data subjects.


My agriculture exploration was supposed to be surveyed, but I was never contacted.

If your farm qualifies for a survey, you should contact the services of the RA 2019 in the region where you are located.


How can I confirm the identity of the interviewer?

Statistics Portugal interviewers are duly accredited. In case of doubt, you should contact the services of the RA 2019 of the region where you are located.


Will all Member States carry out the Agricultural Census simultaneously?

Only Portugal carries out the census in 2019, and derogation has been granted to this effect to avoid overlap with the population and housing censuses. All other Member States will carry their RA in 2020.


What is the difference between the Farm Structure Survey (Portuguese acronym IEEA) and the Agricultural Census (RA)?

The RA collects data from all agricultural holdings while the IEEA is a survey of a representative set of these units (sample). EU legislation (Regulation (EC) nº 1166/2008) requires two IEEA surveys to be carried out after the RA 2009. The main objectives of the IEEA are:

  • to update the knowledge on the structure of agricultural holdings and assess their evolution since the last RA;
  • provide information on changes in agricultural production systems, the farming community and paid labour.