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 and forestry sectors in the Murray region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Murray region of New South Wales is located in the south west of the state, including the regional centres of Albury, Deniliquin, and Hay and the area north of the Murray River. The region comprises eight local government areas of Albury, Balranald, Berrigan, Edward River, Greater Hume Shire, Hay, Murray River, and Wentworth, and parts of the Carrathool, Federation, Lockhart and Murrumbidgee local government areas. The region covers a total area of around 97,800 square kilometres or 12 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 118,900 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the Murray region occupies 84,900 square kilometres, or 87 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas, and minimal use) occupy 8,500 square kilometres, or 9 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 48,300 square kilometres or 49 per cent of the Murray region (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 57,500 people were employed in the Murray region. The region accounts for 1 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 9 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 10,300 people followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing with 7,100 people, and retail trade with 5,600 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; manufacturing; and education and training. Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector represented 12 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Murray region was $2 billion, which was 15 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13 billion).
The Murray region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($333 million), followed by cattle and calves ($232 million) and wool ($202 million). These commodities together contributed 39 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. Additionally, in 2017–18 the Murray region accounted for 99 per cent ($76 million) of the total value of the state's grape (excluding wine grapes) production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 2,486 farms in the Murray region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 10 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Murray region, 2016–17
|Industry classification||Murray region||New South Wales|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Other Grain Growing||640||25.7||3,192||20.0|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||432||17.4||3,579||12.1|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||360||14.5||6,968||5.2|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||232||9.3||2,821||8.2|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||121||4.9||2,500||4.8|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||95||3.8||902||10.5|
|Citrus Fruit Growing||92||3.7||364||25.3|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||46||1.9||636||7.3|
|Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing||30||1.2||616||4.8|
|Other Crop Growing nec||29||1.2||128||22.9|
|Total agriculture|| 2,486 ||100|| 26,024 ||9.6|
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. nec Not elsewhere classified.
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. Other grain growing farms (640 farms) were the most common, accounting for 26 per cent of all farms in the Murray region, and 20 per cent of all other grain 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 20 per cent of farms in the Murray region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 2 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 22 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 64 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Murray region in 2016–17.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in New South Wales.
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Murray region was 27,600 hectares, comprised almost completely of softwood plantations. The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were 1.3 million hectares of native forests in the Murray region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt mallee open (537,000 hectares), Eucalypt medium open (204,800 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (215,700 hectares), Eucalypt mallee woodland (150,600 hectares) and Casuarina (84,200 hectares) forest types. There were 774,100 hectares of native forests in leasehold forests, 273,600 hectares were privately owned, 182,600 hectares were in nature conservation reserves and 51,700 hectares were multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing facilities are located at Albury and Barham.
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 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 and volumes 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 (0.9 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.
ABARES 2016, Land Use of Australia 2010–11, ABARES, Canberra, May.
ABARES 2018, Catchment scale land use of Australia – December 2018, Canberra, December.
ABS 2018, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.
ABS 2019a Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, Feb 2019, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 03 April 2019.
ABS 2019b Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017-18, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 May 2019.