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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 of New South Wales broadacre farms remained largely unchanged at around $175,600 per farm in (Table 1) 2017–18. Decreased crop production and increased costs due to higher prices for purchased feed were offset by increased livestock receipts.

Overall, broadacre farm cash income in New South Wales is estimated to have declined to average $87,000 per farm in 2018–19. This is 30 per cent below the 10-year average to 2017–18 of $123,000 (Figure 1). The far west and north-western regions of New South Wales are expected to record the largest declines in broadacre farm incomes (in percentage terms) (Table 2). Projected reductions in average farm incomes at the regional level reflect the negative impacts on crop production and pasture growth of rainfall deficiencies in 2018. These were typically less severe from north to south in the NSW wheat–sheep zone.

Figure 1 Real farm cash income, broadacre industries, 1998–99 to 2017–18
average per farm

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

Table 1 Financial performance, all broadacre industries, New South Wales, 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
 Unit2016–172017–18pRSE2018–19y
Total cash receipts$521,860536,200(5)436,000
Total cash costs$345,720360,600(5)350,000
Farm cash income$176,140175,600(7)87,000
Farms with negative farm cash income%  16  14(31)  31
Farm business profit $104,2502,000(618)–69,000
Profit at full equity
    - excluding capital appreciation$139,21037,800(33)–30,000
    - including capital appreciation$524,760321,400(16)na
Farm capital at 30 June a$4,942,6005,609,400(5)na
Farm debt at 30 June b$616,630656,000(9)na
Change in debt - 1 July to 30 June b%911(32)na
Equity at 30 June bc$4,198,2404,854,200(4)na
Equity ratio bd%  87  88(1)na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b$218,170257,800(29)na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b$58,31059,900(13)na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b%  24  25(11)na
Rate of returne
    - excluding capital appreciation%3.10.7(32)–0.5
    - including capital appreciation%11.86.0(16)na
Off-farm income of owner manager and partner b$38,65038,800(15)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 2018–19
average per farm
ABARES regionUnit2016–172017–18pRSE2018–19y
111: Far West$313,600280,000(14)3,000
121: North West Slopes and Plains$232,300221,000(16)1,000
122: Central West$162,200164,000(14)68,000
123: Riverina$226,900215,000(11)173,000
131: Tablelands$122,200150,000(15)107,000
132: Coastal$33,80014,000(61)41,000

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

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
Table 3 Financial performance in New South Wales, by industry, 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
IndustryFarm cash income ($)Proportion of farms (%)
2016–172017–18pRSE2018–19y2016–172017–18p2018–19y
All broadacre industries176,100175,600(7)87,000100100100
Wheat and other crops403,520398,500(13)3,000121011
Mixed livestock–crops251,600214,500(13)117,000201716
Sheep115,800116,800(12)90,000212424
Beef76,32098,000(48)65,000293132
Sheep–beef173,160230,100(11)147,000181817

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

Farm cash income of wheat and other crops farms remained largely unchanged at an average of $398,500 in 2017–18 (Figure 2). Increased prices received for grains offset a decline in crop receipts due to reduced per farm areas planted.

In 2018–19 average farm cash income is projected to have declined substantially to $3,000 per farm due mostly to lower crop receipts as a result of continuing dry conditions. Total cash costs are also projected to decline as a result of reduced areas planted.

Figure 2 Real farm cash income, wheat and other crops industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash income of mixed livestock–crops industry farms declined by 15 per cent to an estimated $214,500 per farm as a result of declines in crop receipts and increased costs due to dry seasonal conditions (Figure 3). Increased numbers of livestock sold and higher prices for lambs, sheep and wool partly offset the decline in total cash receipts.

In 2018–19 average farm cash income is projected to have declined by a further 45 per cent to $117,000 per farm, due mostly to lower crop receipts and higher expenditure on purchased feed for livestock as a result of continuing dry conditions.

Figure 3 Real farm cash income, mixed livestock–crops industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

In 2017–18 farm cash income for sheep industry farms remained largely unchanged at an average around $116,800 per farm. Increased receipts from selling sheep and wool as a result of higher lamb, sheep and wool prices were offset by substantial increases in purchased feed.

In 2018–19 farm cash income for New South Wales sheep industry farms is projected to have declined by 24 per cent to average $90,000 per farm (Figure 4) due mostly to higher purchased feed costs. Wool and lamb prices are forecast to be higher in 2018–19. This is expected to limit the decline in average farm cash incomes for the sheep industry farms. Farm cash income in 2018–19 is projected to be 14 per cent below the 10-year average to 2017–18.

Figure 4 Real farm cash income, sheep industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash income of New South Wales beef industry farms increased from $76,320 per farm in 2016–17 to $98,000 in 2017–18 (Figure 5). This was a result of increased cash receipts from sale of beef cattle due to increased beef cattle turn-off.

In 2018–19 average farm cash income is estimated to have declined by 33 per cent to around $65,000 per farm mostly due to higher purchased feed price and lower receipts from sales of beef cattle. This projected farm cash income is around 7 per cent higher than the 10-year average to 2017–18 of $60,500 per farm.

Figure 5 Real farm cash income, beef industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Farm cash income for sheep–beef farms increased by 33 per cent in 2017–18 to an average of $230,100 per farm (Figure 6) as a result increased receipts from selling beef, sheep, lambs and wool. Total cash costs also increased by 36 per cent due to significant increases in purchased feed.

Farm cash income is projected to have decreased by 36 per cent to $147,000 per farm in 2018–19. Average total cash receipts are projected to decline mainly as a result of reduced numbers of sheep sold despite higher prices for wool and lambs in 2018–19. Total cash costs are projected to rise due to increases in purchased feed. This average farm cash income is projected to be 22 per cent above the 10-year average to 2017–18 of $120,000.

Figure 6 Real farm cash income, sheep–beef industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash income of New South Wales dairy farms increased from an average of $172,070 per farm in 2016–17 to $178,200 in 2017–18 (Table 4). This was around 14 per cent above the 10-year average to 2016–17.Total cash receipts rose by around 12 per cent on average because of higher milk prices and increased milk production. Total cash costs also increased mainly as a result of increased expenditure on fodder and hired labour.

Average farm cash income is projected to have fallen by 66 per cent in 2018–19 compared with 2017–18 (Figure 7). Farmgate milk prices are expected to be slightly higher but milk production is projected to have fallen by more in percentage terms, leading to a decline in milk receipts. High prices for feed are contributing to increases in purchased feed costs—a major expense for this industry. Average farm business profit is projected to fall from $48,000 per farm in 2017–18 to $–123,000 in 2018–19, with a projected run-down in livestock inventories adding to the reduction in cash incomes.

Figure 7 Real farm cash income, dairy industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Dairy Industry Survey
Table 4 Financial performance, New South Wales dairy industry 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
 Unit2016–172017–18pRSE2018–19y
Total cash receipts$931,8601,039,500(3)952,000
Total cash costs$759,790861,300(3)891,000
Farm cash income$172,070178,200(11)61,000
Farms with negative farm cash income%  13  13(28)  27
Farm business profit $55,28048,100(47)–123,000
Profit at full equity
    - excluding capital appreciation$117,670125,300(18)–53,000
    - including capital appreciation$247,500418,800(32)na
Farm capital at 30 June a$5,284,0106,097,700(5)na
Farm debt at 30 June b$1,004,2201,031,200(10)na
Change in debt - 1 July to 30 June b%3–4(85)na
Equity at 30 June bc$4,414,0104,745,700(6)na
Equity ratio bd%  82  82(2)na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b$522,830273,100(46)na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b$37,35045,900(31)na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b%  21  20(30)na
Rate of returne
    - excluding capital appreciation%2.32.2(18)–0.9
    - including capital appreciation%4.97.3(33)na
Off-farm income of owner manager and partner b$18,64017,500(19)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 5). 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 (Figure 8). Vegetable production is projected to have risen because of higher yields for most vegetables.

Table 5 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 8 Farm cash income, vegetable-growing farms, 2006–07 to 2017–18
average per farm
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:
27 Jun 2019