About my region is a series of individual profiles of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries in your region. This regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors in the Mid North Coast region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Mid North Coast region of New South Wales is located north of Newcastle. The region includes the major towns of Port Macquarie and Taree and comprises the four local government areas of Kempsey, Mid-Coast, Nambucca, and Port Macquarie—Hastings. It also includes a part of the Armidale Regional local government area in the north-west. The region covers a total area of around 18,800 square kilometres or 2 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 218,300 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the Mid North Coast region occupies 9,700 square kilometres, or 51 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 6,000 square kilometres, or 32 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 5,100 square kilometres or 27 per cent of the Mid North Coast region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 86,400 people were employed in the Mid North Coast region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 5 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 15,700 people, followed by retail trade with 10,600 people, and construction with 9,500 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; public administration and safety; and professional, scientific and technical services. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 5,100 people, representing 5 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Mid North Coast region was $385 million, which was 3 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13 billion).
The Mid North Coast region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($122 million) followed by cattle and calves ($115 million) and eggs ($36 million). These commodities together contributed 71 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the Mid North Coast region accounted for 45 per cent ($25 million) of the total value of the state's avocado production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 1,000 farms in the Mid North Coast region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 4 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Mid North Coast region, New South Wales, 2016–17
|Industry classification||Mid north Coast region||New South Wales|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region|
to state total
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||518||51.8||6,968||7.4|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||172||17.2||902||19.1|
|Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing||64||6.4||616||10.4|
|Beef Cattle Feedlots (Specialised)||24||2.4||111||22.0|
|Poultry Farming (Meat)||21||2.1||307||6.8|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||20||2.0||3,579||0.6|
|Nursery Production (Under Cover)||19||1.9||141||13.6|
|Floriculture Production (Outdoors)||14||1.4||96||15.1|
|Poultry Farming (Eggs)||14||1.4||108||13.3|
|Nursery Production (Outdoors)||13||1.3||191||6.7|
Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $40,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (518 farms) were the most common, accounting for 52 per cent of all farms in the Mid North Coast region, and 7 per cent of all beef cattle farms in New South Wales.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 43 per cent of farms in the Mid North Coast region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 10 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 7 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 42 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Mid North Coast region in 2016–17.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in
New South Wales.
The New South Wales Mid North Coast region includes Port Macquarie, a key landing area for state fisheries, and the Wallis Lake Estuary, an important area for oyster aquaculture. The state fisheries operating in the area include the Ocean Prawn Trawl Fishery, and the Ocean Trap and Line Fishery. A range of species are landed in the area from these fisheries, including king prawns, yellowfin bream, sea mullet, dusky flathead, silver trevally, tiger flathead, southern calamari, school whiting, and crabs. Common freshwater recreational species caught in the region include bass, catfish, bream, flathead, and luderick while common marine species are snapper, pearl perch, sand flathead, kingfish, and billfish. Gamefishing is also a popular recreational pursuit in the region, targeting larger finfish species such as tuna, marlin, and billfish.
Sydney rock oyster is the principal aquaculture species grown in NSW, accounting for 58 per cent of the value all aquaculture species grown in NSW, with a value of $40.7 million in 2016–17 (NSW Department of Primary Industries). The Mid North Coast Region is a key region for Sydney rock oyster production, producing an estimated 2.3 million dozens of oysters with a combined value of $15.7 million in 2016–17. The key producing area in the region is Wallis Lake, which produced 1.5 million dozen Sydney rock oysters in 2016–17, at a value of $10.2 million. Other Sydney rock oyster producing areas in the region include the Hastings River estuary ($2.2 million), Camden Haven ($2.2 million), the Manning River Estuary ($0.6 million), and the Nambucca River Estuary ($0.5 million). Other aquaculture species grown in the region include: Australian bass, crayfish, silver perch, and golden perch.
In 2015–16 the gross value of New South Wales fisheries production was estimated to be around $156 million, increasing by 4 per cent ($6 million) from 2014-15. New South Wales contributed 5 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 58 per cent ($91 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 42 per cent ($65 million).
New South Wales wild-catch fisheries provide a range of fisheries products. In 2015–16, finfish species contributed 47 per cent of the wild-catch production, valued at $43 million. The main finfish species landed were sea mullet, with a gross value of production of $9.6 million, followed by black and yellowfin bream ($3.6 million), school whiting ($2.8 million), snapper ($2.0 million), and sand whiting ($1.5 million). Prawns contributed 19 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $17.3 million, with other important crustacean groups being eastern rock lobster (13 per cent; $11.8 million), and crabs (10 per cent; $9.5 million).
In 2015–16 the value of New South Wales aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 7 per cent ($4.2 million) to $65 million. Oyster production makes the greatest contribution to New South Wales aquaculture production, accounting for 68 per cent of production by value, worth $44.3 million. Prawns ($6.0 million) and finfish aquaculture species, including silver perch ($3 million), trout ($2.3 million), and barramundi ($1.0 million) make up most of the remaining aquaculture production.
Commonwealth fisheries active in New South Wales include the Small Pelagic Fishery, the Eastern Tuna and Billfish fishery (mainly supplying export markets with tuna), and the Commonwealth trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark fishery.
In 2015–16, New South Wales fisheries product exports were valued at $23.3 million. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen fish, rock lobster, and abalone. Japan and Vietnam, are the major destinations for New South Wales fisheries exports, accounting for 45 per cent and 13 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include New Zealand (9 per cent), Spain (5 per cent), and Taiwan (5 per cent).
The New South Wales coast line is an important recreational fishing area, with a multitude of inlets and estuaries from which to fish. Being a tourism precinct, the region offers a number of recreational fishing opportunities, with the value of this activity to the regional economy likely to be significant. There are also a range of game fishing tournaments throughout the year, including in the Bermagui and Port Stephens area, targeting tuna and marlin species. New South Wales also contains a number of recreational only fishing areas, especially in the far south coast of New South Wales, a popular destination for both marine and freshwater recreational fishers. A large number of recreational fishers also fish in the Greater Sydney area, stretching from Newcastle to the Illawarra area, and comprising the city areas of Newcastle, Sydney, and Wollongong. Species commonly targeted in the area include yellowfin bream, dusky flathead, yellowtail, blue swimmer crab, squid, and southern calamari ( Steffe & Murphy 2011).
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Mid North Coast region was 14,100 hectares, comprised of 13,500 hectares of hardwood plantations and 700 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted are Dunn's white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii), blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis), flooded gum (Eucalyptus grandis), and Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna). The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were 1.3 million hectares of native forests in the Mid North Coast region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt tall open (638,400 hectares), Eucalypt medium open (281,000 hectares), and Rainforest (185,800 hectares) forest types. There were 660,400 hectares of the native forests privately owned, 393,500 hectares were in nature conservation reserves and 255,200 hectares were multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are sawmills located at Herons Creek and Booral.
In 2015–16, the total plantation area in New South Wales was 394,400 hectares, comprised of 87,100 hectares of hardwood plantations, 307,100 hectares of softwood plantations and 100 hectares of other plantations.
In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in the New South Wales was 876,000 cubic metres valued at $110 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 63,000 cubic metres valued at $5 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4.7 million cubic metres valued at $344 million. These values include New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
Total sales and service income in the New South Wales forest and wood product industry was estimated at $8.9 billion in 2015–16. The income generated from the sale of wood products was $4.6 billion, and the income generated from the sale of paper and paper products was $4.3 billion.
In 2016, the New South Wales forestry sector employed 17,571 workers (0.5 per cent of the total employed workforce in New South Wales) compared with 22,250 (0.7 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry, logging, support services, timber wholesaling; and wood, pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.
Area of native forest, by tenure, Mid North Coast regionSource:
ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013
Land Use of Australia 2010–11, ABARES, Canberra, May.
Catchment scale land use of Australia – December 2018, Canberra, December.
Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.
Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, Feb 2019, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 03 April 2019.
Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017-18, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 May 2019.
NSW Department of Primary Industries, A 2018,
Aquaculture production report 2016–2017, New South Wales.
Steffe, AS & Murphy, JJ 2011,
Recreational fishing surveys in the Greater Sydney Region. Fisheries final report series, no. 131, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Cronulla, New South Wales.