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Farm financial performance – New South Wales

​​Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in New South Wales.

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Average farm cash income was high in New South Wales in 2015–16 (Table 1) and increased further in all regions in 2016–17 as a result of increased crop production and higher prices for beef cattle, wool, sheep, lambs.

In 2017–18 average farm cash income is estimated to have increased further in the Far West, Central West and Tablelands regions as a result of higher sheep, lamb and wool prices. Farm cash incomes are estimated to have declined in the North West Slopes and Plains, Riverina and Coastal regions of New South Wales (Table 2), a result of lower crop production and lower prices for beef cattle.

Overall, broadacre farm cash income in New South Wales is estimated to have decreased to average $166,000 per farm in 2017–18. This is 52 per cent higher than the 10-year average to 2016–17 of $109,000 (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Real farm cash income, broadacre industries, 1997–98 to 2017–18
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for broadacre industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from 2001–02 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Table 1 Financial performance, all broadacre industries, New South Wales, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Measure Unit 2015–16 2016–17p RSE 2017–18y
Total cash receipts $ 509,580 547,900 (5) 518,000
Total cash costs $ 334,820 364,500 (5) 352,000
Farm cash income $ 174,760 183,400 (7) 166,000
Farms with negative farm cash income %   14   16 (24)   15
Farm business profit $ 89,320 107,200 (11) 65,000

Profit at full equity

    - excluding capital appreciation $ 123,980 143,900 (9) 104,000
    - including capital appreciation $ 520,130 497,300 (9) na
Farm capital at 30 June a $ 4,798,700 5,161,200 (4) na
Net capital additions $ 50,850 86,100 (34) na
Farm debt at 30 June b $ 527,300 643,300 (8) 681,000
Change in debt - 1 July to 30 June b % 12 8 (39) 4
Equity at 30 June bc $ 3,827,810 4,297,200 (4) na
Equity ratio bd %   88   87 (1) na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b $ 244,350 235,400 (19) na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b $ 54,600 64,100 (20) na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b %   25   24 (12) na

Rate of return e

    - excluding capital appreciation % 2.9 3.1 (8) 2.0
    - including capital appreciation % 12.0 10.6 (9) na
Off-farm income of owner manager and spouse b $ 37,820 39,400 (12) na

a Excludes leased plant and equipment. b Excludes capital appreciation. c Farm capital minus farm debt. d Equity expressed as a percentage of farm capital. e Rate of return to farm capital at 1 July. p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. RSE Figures in parentheses are standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Table 2 Farm cash income of New South Wales broadacre farms, by region, 2016–17 to 2017–18
average per farm
ABARES region Unit Five years ending 2015–16 2016–17p RSE 2017–18y
111: NSW Far West $ 188,570 306,900 (15) 386,000
121: NSW North West Slopes and Plains $ 137,520 259,500 (12) 144,000
122: NSW Central West $ 127,390 172,700 (10) 177,000
123: NSW Riverina $ 191,620 237,300 (16) 227,000
131: NSW Tablelands $ 82,070 133,000 (15) 140,000
132: NSW Coastal $ 14,460 36,700 (26) 22,000

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Shows the ABARES high rainfall zone (eastern seaboard, South Australian south-east coast and south-west coast of Western Australia); wheat–sheep zone (south-east Queensland excluding the coast; central New South Wales, including the North West Slopes and Plains, Central West and Riverina, northern Victoria, South Australian Eyre Peninsula, Murraylands and Yorke Peninsula and Western Australian wheat belt ); and pastoral zone (Northern Territory, northern and central Western Australia, northern and central South Australia, western New South Wales, and northern and western Queensland). The map also shows the ABARES regions within these zones.
Note: Each region is identified by a unique code of three digits. The first digit identifies the state or territory, the second digit identifies the zone and the third digit identifies the region.
Source: ABARES

Average farm cash income of New South Wales beef industry farms decreased from $114,270 per farm in 2015–16 to $85,800 in 2016–17. This decline was a result of lower cash receipts and increased total costs. Receipts from sale of beef cattle declined as a result of reduced beef cattle turn-off.

In 2017–18 average farm cash income is estimated to have remained around $87,000 per farm increased beef cattle turn-off offsetting lower cattle prices (Figure 2). This is around 66 per cent above the 10-year average to 2016–17 of $52,300 per farm.

Figure 2 Real farm cash income, beef industry, 1997–98 to 2017–18
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for beef industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from 2001–02 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

In 2016–17 farm cash income for sheep industry farms increased by 20 per cent to average $156,200 per farm  as a result of higher sheep, lambs and wool prices.

In 2017–18 farm cash income for New South Wales sheep industry farms is estimated to have increased further to average $191,000 per farm (Figure 3) as a result higher sheep, lamb and wool prices and increased turn-off. This is around 96 per cent higher than the 10-year average to 2016–17 and the highest average farm cash income for New South Wales sheep farms in more than 20 years.

Figure 3 Real farm cash income, sheep industry, 1997–98 to 2017–18
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for sheep industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from 2001–02 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Farm cash income for grains farms increased in 2016–17 to an average of $312,300 per farm, the highest average farm cash income in over 20 years (Figure 4). Record winter crop production more than offset lower prices for grains. Higher prices for beef, sheep, lambs and wool also contributed to increased farm cash receipts.

Farm cash income is estimated to have decreased to $204,000 per farm in 2017–18. This decline this is still around 23 per cent higher than the 10-year average to 2016–17 of $166,000. Average total cash receipts are projected to decline by around 12 per cent as a result of reduced crop yields in 2017–18.

Figure 4 Real farm cash income, grains industry, 1997–98 to 2017–18
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for grains industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from 2001–02 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash income of New South Wales dairy farms declined from an average of $184,950 per farm in 2015–16 to $172,100 in 2016–17 (Table 3). Total cash receipts fell by around 7 per cent on average because of lower milk prices and reduced milk production. Total cash costs declined slightly as a result of reduced expenditure on fodder and repairs and maintenance.

In 2017–18 farm cash income of dairy industry farms is estimated to have declined further to average $150,000 per farm (Figure 5), around 6 per cent below the 10-year average to 2016–17. This mainly reflects increased costs as drier seasonal conditions result in increased fodder expenditure.

Figure 5 Real farm cash income, dairy industry, 1997–98 to 2017–18
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for dairy industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from 2001–02 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Dairy Industry Survey
Table 3 Financial performance, New South Wales dairy industry 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Measure Unit 2015–16 2016–17p RSE 2017–18y
Total cash receipts $ 997,420 931,900 (3) 932,000
Total cash costs $ 812,470 759,800 (3) 782,000
Farm cash income $ 184,950 172,100 (10) 150,000
Farms with negative farm cash income %   7   13 (61)   17
Farm business profit $ 57,450 55,300 (38) 36,000

Profit at full equity

    - excluding capital appreciation $ 126,400 117,700 (18) 97,000
    - including capital appreciation $ 308,530 247,500 (28) na
Farm capital at 30 June a $ 5,213,240 5,284,000 (5) na
Net capital additions $ 200,490 114,200 (47) na
Farm debt at 30 June b $ 1,027,680 1,004,200 (9) 912,000
Change in debt - 1 July to 30 June b % 7.0 3.0 (121) 4.0
Equity at 30 June bc $ 4,005,500 4,414,000 (6) na
Equity ratio bd %   80   82 (2) na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b $ 444,460 522,800 (38) na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b $ 37,660 37,300 (32) na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b %   23   21 (33) na

Rate of return e

    - excluding capital appreciation % 2.6 2.3 (18) 1.8
    - including capital appreciation % 6.4 4.9 (26) na
Off-farm income of owner manager and partner b $ 19,120 18,600 (21) na

a Excludes leased plant and equipment. b Excludes capital appreciation. c Farm capital minus farm debt. d Equity expressed as a percentage of farm capital. e Rate of return to farm capital at 1 July. p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. RSE Figures in parentheses are standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian Dairy Industry Survey

In 2016–17 New South Wales had an estimated 647 vegetable-growing farms, accounting for 25 per cent of Australian vegetable-growing farms. Most farms were in Greater Sydney, the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and the Far North Coast. The average area of NSW vegetable-growing farms was around 81 hectares, with 19 hectares planted to vegetables. Vegetable production accounted for 3 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales (ABS 2018).

In 2016–17 average farm cash income for NSW vegetable-growing farms increased by an estimated 74 per cent to around $171,700 per farm (Table 4). Total vegetable production per farm declined marginally, mainly as a result of a decline in average area planted to vegetables. However, higher vegetable prices led to an increase in total vegetable receipts. Average total cash costs decreased by 4 per cent to around $350,200 per farm. Freight, hired labour, and fuel, oil and grease costs largely contributed to the decline in total cash costs in 2016–17.

Average farm cash income is estimated to have increased by a further 3 per cent in 2017–18 to $177,000 per farm because of an estimated increase in vegetable production and despite lower expected prices. Vegetable production is projected to have risen because of higher yields for most vegetables.

Table 4 Selected physical and financial results, Australian vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2016–17 and 2017–18
average per farm
Indicator2016–17pRSE% change from 2015–162017–18y% change from 2016–17
Vegetable cash receipts ($)478,200(77)17499,0004
Area planted to vegetables (ha)19(7)–14209
Quantity of vegetables produced (t)537(14)–761014
Farm cash income ($)171,700(85)74177,0003

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Note: Figures in parentheses are standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Figure 6 Farm cash income, vegetable-growing farms, 2006–07 to 2017–18
average per farm
Shows Farm cash income, vegetable-growing farms, 2006–07 to 2017-18.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Vegetable Growing Farms Survey

Major financial performance indicators

  • Total cash receipts: total revenues received by the business during the financial year.
  • Total cash costs: payments made by the business for materials and services and for permanent and casual hired labour (excluding owner manager, partner and family labour).
  • Farm cash income: total cash receipts - total cash costs
  • Farm business profit: farm cash income + changes in trading stocks - depreciation - imputed labour costs
  • Profit at full equity:return produced by all the resources used in the business, farm business profit + rent + interest + finance lease payments - depreciation on leased items
  • Rate of return: return to all capital used, profit at full equity * 100 / total opening capital
  • Equity ratio: farm capital minus farm debt expressed as a percentage of farm capital

Industry types

  • Grains: farms mainly engaged in producing broadacre crops such as wheat, coarse grains, oilseeds and pulses, and including farms running sheep and/or beef cattle in conjunction with substantial broadacre crop activity.
  • Sheep: farms mainly engaged in running sheep.
  • Beef: farms mainly engaged in running beef cattle.
  • Dairy: farms mainly engaged in milk production.
  • Vegetable: farms mainly engaged in growing vegetables.

Farm surveys definitions and methods
Further information about our survey definitions and methods.

Last reviewed:
06 Dec 2018