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 Darling Downs — Maranoa region and the recent Queensland financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Darling Downs — Maranoa region of Queensland is located in the south of the state along the New South Wales border. The region comprises the six local government areas of Balonne, Goondiwindi, Maranoa, Southern Downs, Toowoomba, and Western Downs, and the major regional towns of Dalby, Warwick, Goondiwindi, St George, Roma and Mitchell. The region covers a total area of around 166,400 square kilometres or 10 per cent of Queensland's total area and is home to approximately 128,800 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region occupies 142,200 square kilometres, or 85 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 11,400 square kilometres, or 7 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 95,100 square kilometres or 57 per cent of the Darling Downs — Maranoa region (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 64,400 people were employed in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region. The region accounts for 3 per cent of total employment in Queensland and 13 per cent of all people employed in the Queensland agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector employing 8,400 people, representing 13 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 7,900 people, followed by manufacturing with 6,700 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; accommodation and food services; and public administration and safety.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region was $3.3 billion, which was 25 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Queensland ($13 billion).
The Darling Downs — Maranoa region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($1.1 billion), followed by cotton ($601 million) and sorghum ($211 million). These commodities together contributed 57 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the Darling Downs — Maranoa region accounted for 100 per cent ($51 million) of the total value of the state's apples production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 4,633 farms in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 25 per cent of all farm businesses in Queensland.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Darling Downs — Maranoa region, 2016–17
|Industry classification||Darling Downs — Maranoa region||Queensland|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||1,945||42.0||8,528||62.8|
|Other Grain Growing||826||17.8||1,153||71.7|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||671||14.5||927||72.4|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||136||2.9||293||46.5|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||129||2.8||671||19.3|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||122||2.6||509||24.0|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||89||1.9||202||44.3|
|Beef Cattle Feedlots (Specialised)||65||1.4||131||49.5|
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 (1,945 farms) were the most common, accounting for 42 per cent of all farms in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region, and 23 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Queensland.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 33 per cent of farms in the Darling Downs — Maranoa 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, 17 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 61 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region in 2016–17.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, dairy and vegetable farms in
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region was 12,400 hectares, comprised of 3,100 hectares of hardwood plantations and 9,300 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted is white gum (Eucalyptus argophloia) and the main softwood species planted are hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) and radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were 4.6 million hectares of native forests in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland (3.0 million hectares), Acacia (413,200 hectares), Eucalypt medium open (382,400 hectares) and Callitris (372,000 hectares) forest types. There were 2.0 million hectares of native forests privately owned, 1.2 million hectares were in multiple-use public forest available for timber production and 1.1 million hectares were in leasehold forests. Major timber processing industries are located at Yarraman, Injune and Roma.
In 2015–16, the total plantation area in Queensland was 230,400 hectares, comprised of 34,800 hectares of hardwood plantations, 195,500 hectares of softwood plantations and 100 hectares of other plantations.
In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Queensland was 285,000 cubic metres valued at $43 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 14,000 cubic metres valued at $1 million. The volume of softwood harvested, including native cypress pines, was 2.6 million cubic metres valued at $205 million.
The sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Queensland was estimated at $2.6 billion in 2015–16. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2015−16.
In 2016, Queensland's forestry sector employed 9,518 workers (0.4 per cent of the total employed workforce) compared with 12,840 (0.6 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.