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 Riverina region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Riverina region of New South Wales is located in the south of the state, extending from the Snowy Mountains north west through the Murrumbidgee River catchment area. The region includes the major regional centres of Wagga Wagga and Griffith and the local government areas of Coolamon, Griffith, Gundagai, Junee, Leeton, Lockhart, Narrandera, Snowy Valleys, Temora, and Wagga Wagga, as well as parts of Bland, Carrathool, Greater Hume Shire, Federation, Murrumbidgee, and Yass Valley local government areas. The region covers a total area of around 57,000 square kilometres or 7 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 160,000 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the Riverina region occupies 44,600 square kilometres, or 78 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 9,100 square kilometres, or 16 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 22,100 square kilometres or 39 per cent of the Riverina region (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 82,100 people were employed in the Riverina region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 11 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 11,900 people, followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing sector with 8,900 people, and manufacturing with 7,900 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were retail trade; education and training; and public administration and safety. Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector represented 11 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Riverina region was $2.5 billion, which was 19 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13 billion).
The Riverina region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($375 million), followed by cotton ($347 million) and cattle and calves ($247 million). These commodities together contributed 38 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the Riverina region accounted for 99 per cent ($12 million) of the total value of the state's olives production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 3,518 farms in the Riverina region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 14 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Riverina region, 2016–17
|Industry classification||Riverina region||New South Wales|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Other Grain Growing||717||20.4||3,192||22.4|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||644||18.3||6,968||9.2|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||604||17.2||3,579||16.9|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||326||9.3||2,500||13.0|
|Citrus Fruit Growing||223||6.3||364||61.3|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||203||5.8||2,821||7.2|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||48||1.4||902||5.3|
|Horse Farming||45||1.3|| 779||5.8|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||35||1.0||636||5.6|
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.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Other grain growing farms (717 farms) were the most common, accounting for 20 per cent of all farms in the Riverina region, and 22 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 26 per cent of farms in the Riverina region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 4 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 17 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 57 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Riverina 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 Riverina region was 96,900 hectares, comprised almost completely of softwood plantations. The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were 1.1 million hectares of native forests in the Riverina region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium open (540,200 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (206,000 hectares), Eucalypt mallee woodland (116,400 hectares) and Callitris (115,600 hectares) forest types. There were 445,600 hectares of native forests in nature conservation reserves, 334,600 hectares were privately owned, 189,500 hectares were in leasehold forest, and 148,700 hectares were multiple–use public forest available for timber production. The main native forest industry is in the south east of the region. Major timber processing facilities are located at Tumut, Tumbarumba and Gilmore.
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 $100 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.