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 New England and North West region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The New England and North West region of New South Wales is located in the north of the state and west of the Great Dividing Range, including the tableland areas around Armidale and north to the Queensland border. The region comprises the eleven local government areas of Glen Innes Severn, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Tamworth Regional, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha, and most of the Armidale Regional local government area. The region covers a total area of around 99,100 square kilometres or 12 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 186,200 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the New England and North West region occupies 79,400 square kilometres, or 80 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 14,400 square kilometres, or 15 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 39,200 square kilometres or 40 per cent of the New England and North West region (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 82,600 people were employed in the New England and North West region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 13 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 14,300 people, followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing with 10,600 people, and retail trade with 7,500 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; accommodation and food services; and transport, postal and warehousing. Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector represented 13 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the New England and North West region was $2.6 billion, which was 20 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13 billion).
The New England and North West region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cotton ($884 million), followed by cattle and calves ($679 million) and wheat ($215 million). These commodities together contributed 67 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the New England and North West region accounted for 87 per cent ($76 million) of the total value of the state's sorghum production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 4,456 farms in the New England and North West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 17 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.
Number of farms, by industry classification, New England and North West region, 2016–17
|Industry classification||New England and North West region ||New South Wales|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||1,836||41.2||6,968||26.3|
|Other Grain Growing||683||15.3||3,192||21.4|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||618||13.9||2,500||24.7|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||512||11.5||3,579||14.3|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||251||5.6||2,821||8.9|
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
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (1,836 farms) were the most common, accounting for 41 per cent of all farms in the New England and North West region, and 26 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 37 per cent of farms in the New England and North West region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 5 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 16 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 65 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the New England and North West 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 New England and North West region was 25,100 hectares, comprised of 11,600 hectares of hardwood plantations and 13,400 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted is shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were 4.0 million hectares of native forests in the New England and North West region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland (1.1 million hectares), Eucalypt medium open (942,000 hectares), Callitris (540,900 hectares) and Rainforest (106,100 hectares) forest types. There were 2.4 million hectares of native forests privately owned, 809,800 hectares were in nature conservation reserves and 392,600 hectares were multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are located at Urbenville, Walcha and Glen Innes.
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 (0.5 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.
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.