Systemic Review Outline: approaches to user engagement in the Defra Group

Users of Defra Group statistics, please help us by completing our short survey. It takes approximately 5 minutes to complete and closes on 21st February. We really appreciate your feedback.


To ensure that statistics are valuable and provide insights, statistics producers must understand how the statistics are used and what questions they need to answer. This can be achieved by communicating and engaging with users.

What we are doing and why

We are exploring approaches to user engagement by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its Arm’s Length Bodies – collectively called the Defra Group.

The review has two main objectives:

  • To understand and document the range of approaches to user engagement currently adopted across the Defra Group statistics portfolio.
  • To identify key features of effective and impactful user engagement for the different types of audience (current and potential).

The Defra Group has a broad and diverse portfolio of official statistics and National Statistics, covering the environment, food and farming, fishing and rural communities. The public profile, public interest and impact of these statistics is varied, and therefore is likely to require different approaches to engaging with users. For this reason, the Defra Group is an ideal candidate for the review, which may provide broader learning about user engagement for the statistical community.

To make the scope of the project manageable, we are focusing on a small subset of 10 outputs which reflects the diversity of the portfolio and which covers the core Defra Department and the Arm’s Length Bodies.

How we are doing it

The review uses three sources of evidence.

Source 1: workshop with Defra Group statistics teams

We will discuss users and uses, approaches to user engagement, challenges to user engagement and support and training for user engagement.

Source 2: user survey

The survey will gather views from users of Defra Group statistics on how the Defra Group communicates and engages with them.

Source 3: measures of web use

Web analytics data provided by the Defra Group will tell us about public interest in the statistics.


For more information about the project, or to share feedback, please contact Job de Roij.

Statistics on Agriculture (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

This is one of a series of reports prepared under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. The Act gives the Statistics Authority power to re-assess whether the Code of Practice for Official Statistics continues to be complied with in relation to official statistics already designated as National Statistics. This report covers the sets of statistics (collectively referred to as agricultural statistics in this Assessment report) produced by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and reported in:

• Agriculture in the United Kingdom (AUK)

• Cereals usage by Millers, Brewers, Distillers and Maltsters UK (Cereals Usage)

• Animal Feed Statistics for Great Britain (Animal Feed Statistics)

• Cereal Stocks UK / England and Wales (Cereal Stocks)

• United Kingdom Milk Prices and Composition of Milk  (UK Milk Prices and Composition)

• Availability and usage of milk by dairies in England and Wales (Milk Availability and Usage)

• United Kingdom Slaughter Statistics (UK Slaughter Statistics)

• United Kingdom Egg Statistics  (UK Egg Statistics)

• United Kingdom Poultry and Poultry Meat Statistics (UK Poultry and Poultry Meat)

• Farm Accounts in England – Results from the Farm Business Survey  (Farm Accounts)

• Farm Rents England (Farm Rents)

• Farm Household Income and Household Composition: Results from the Farm Business Survey: England (Farm Household Income and Composition)

• Farm Business Income by type of farm in England (Farm Business Income provisional and final estimates)

• Total factor productivity of the UK agricultural industry (TFP 1st and 2nd estimates)

• Total Income from Farming United Kingdom (TIFF 1st and 2nd estimates)

• Agriculture in the English regions – 1st and 2nd estimates

• National average monthly wholesale prices of selected home-grown horticultural produce for England (National average monthly wholesale prices)

• Agricultural Price Index  (API)

• Farming Statistics provisional arable crop areas June, England (Provisional Arable Crop Areas)

• Farming Statistics Livestock Populations December, UK and England

• Farming Statistics Provisional Crop Areas, Yields and Livestock Populations June, United Kingdom

• Farming Statistics Final Crop Areas, Yields, Livestock Populations and Agricultural Workforce June, United Kingdom

• Farming Statistics Final Land Use, Livestock Populations and Agricultural Workforce June, England (Final Land Use)

• Farming Statistics Final Crop Areas and Cattle, Sheep and Pig Populations June, England

• Farming Statistics; Diversification and Renewable Energy Production on Farms in England

• Summary results from the Farm Practices Survey England (Diversification and Renewable Energy)

• Organic Statistics; United Kingdom (Organic Statistics)

• Survey of Orchard; Fruit England and Wales (Orchard Fruit)

• Basic Horticultural Statistics (BHS)

• Mushroom Production Area; England

• Business Management Practices on Farm, England

• Farm Countryside Maintenance and Management in England – Results from the Farm Business Survey

• Farm Energy Use: Results from the Farm Business Survey – England 

The previous assessments of these sets of statistics were reported in Assessment reports 22, 72, 150 and 154. They have been re-assessed as part of the Statistics Authority’s ongoing programme of re-assessment. This is discussed further in annex 4.

AUK is a compendium publication. Assessments of compendium publications against the Code of Practice relate to the processes involved in preparing the publication, rather than in producing the statistics that are included. The National Statistics designation relating to the compendium is not automatically conferred on any of the constituent series. Those sets of statistics will normally be subject to separate assessment to attain National Statistics status, but in some cases a compendium publication may include other statistics where this is helpful context. Designation of a compendium publication as National Statistics therefore means that the producer body has, for example: identified and met user needs in terms of the content of the publication; considered the appropriateness of each series for inclusion; and written appropriate commentary.

Section 3 of this report adopts an ‘exception reporting’ approach – it includes text only to support the Requirements made to strengthen compliance with the Code and Suggestions made to improve confidence in the production, management and dissemination of these statistics. This abbreviated style of report reflects the Head of Assessment’s consideration of aspects of risk and materiality. The Assessment team nonetheless assessed compliance with all parts of the Code of Practice and has commented on all those in respect of which some remedial action is recommended.

This report was prepared by the Statistics Authority’s Assessment team, and approved by the Assessment Committee on behalf of the Board of the Statistics Authority, based on the advice of the Head of Assessment.

Statistics on Agriculture: Letter of Confirmation as National Statistics

Contact details in statistical reports – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Protocol 2 Practice 6 of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics provides for the name and contact details of the responsible statistician to be set out in statistical reports.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has told us that it does not include the names and contact details of the responsible statistician in its statistical reports on Tuberculosis in Cattle, for security reasons.

The Authority has confirmed that in these specific circumstances it is acceptable, instead, to provide a generic email address and telephone number.