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About my region – Barossa—Yorke—Mid North South Australia

​​​​​​​​​​​​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 Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region and the recent financial performance of the South Australian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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​​​Regional overview

The Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region of South Australia is located in the south–east of the state, north of Adelaide and includes the Yorke Peninsula. The region comprises fourteen local government areas and the regional centres of Clare, Peterborough, Port Pirie, Tanunda and Wallaroo. The region covers a total area of around 37,717 square kilometres or 4 per cent of South Australia's total area and is home to approximately 113,600 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region occupies 34,700 square kilometres, or 92 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 2,328 square kilometres, or 6 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is dryland cropping, which occupies 15,740 square kilometres or 42 per cent of the Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region.

Broad land use in the Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Barossa-Yorke-Mid North region. It includes a legend which shows the broad land use categories— nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use; grazing native vegetation; production forestry; grazing modified pastures; plantation forestry; cropping; horticulture; intensive uses and water. This map is discussed in the above paragraph.
Source: Catchment scale land use of Australia ABARES 2017


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2018 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 48,700 people were employed in the Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region. The region accounts for 6 per cent of total employment in South Australia and 19 per cent of all people employed in the South Australian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 7,500 people, representing 15 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 6,500 people, followed by retail trade with 6,000 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were manufacturing; construction; and accommodation and food services.

Employment profile, Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region, November 2018
Shows the number of people employed in the Greater Adelaide region by industry in thousands. The figure is discussed in the previous two paragraphs.
Note: Annual average of the preceding 4 quarters.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 6291.0, Labour Force, Australia 2018

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2016–17, the gross value of agricultural production in the Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region was $2.2 billion, which was 30 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in South Australia ($7.2 billion).

The Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($532 million), followed by barley ($256 million) and hay ($178 million). These commodities together contributed 44 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Value of agricultural production, Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region, 2016–17
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous three paragraphs.
Note: The graph shows only data published by the ABS. Some values were not published by the ABS to ensure confidentiality. The "Other commodities" category includes the total value of commodities not published as well as those with small values.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 7503.0, Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia 2018

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 2,797 farms in the Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 29 per cent of all farm businesses in South Australia.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region, 2016–17
Industry classificationBarossa—Yorke—Mid North regionSouth Australia
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region to state total %
Other Grain Growing    1,24944.6     2,42051.6
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming       60221.5     1,62337.1
Grape Growing       35312.6     1,39325.3
Sheep Farming (Specialised)       33512.0     1,27826.2
Other Crop Growing nec          481.7           7662.8
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)          461.6         8215.6
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming          401.4         5577.3
Pig Farming          401.4         12132.9
Other          843.0     1,3096.4
Total agriculture    2,797 100     9,597 29.1

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

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Other grain growing farms (1,249) were the most common, accounting for 45 per cent of all farms in the Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region, and 52 per cent of all other grain growing farms in South Australia.

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 Barossa—Yorke—Mid North 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, 25 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 Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region in 2016–17.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region, 2016–17
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2016–17 are included in these data. The scope of ABS Rural Environment and Agricultural Collections changed in 2015–16 to include only agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in South Australia.

Fisheries sector

The Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region of South Australia has an extensive seafood industry including wild–catch and aquaculture. The most common commercial wild–catch species include: King George whiting, snapper, abalone, southern rock lobster, giant crab, and sardines found throughout the coast of the region. Blue crabs and western king prawns are caught mostly in Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf. The Spencer Gulf, due to its ideal breeding conditions, is the world's largest known population of western king prawns. South Australian oyster farming is an emerging industry on the Yorke Peninsula at Port Broughton, Port Vincent, Stansbury and Coobowie Bay.

In 2015–16 the gross value of South Australia's fisheries production was around $517 million, an increase of 10 per cent ($48 million) from 2014–15. South Australia contributed 17 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 51 per cent ($265 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 49 per cent ($252 million).

South Australia's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by four main products — Southern rock lobster, prawns, Australian sardines and abalone — which account for 52 per cent, 17 per cent, 10 per cent and 8 per cent respectively of the total value of wild-caught production in 2014–15. Over the last decade the real value of South Australia's wild-caught fisheries products has increased by 7 per cent to $265 million (2015–16). The product for which the real value of production increased most over the past decade are wild-caught rock lobster, increasing by $34 million. A large proportion of abalone is exported, mostly to Hong Kong, China and Japan. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of abalone exports and, in turn, production. Prawns are mostly sold in the domestic market, where competition from imports has placed significant downward pressure on prices in recent years.

Most Australian sardine production is used as a high quality feed in tuna ranching operations located off Port Lincoln in South Australia. A small portion also goes toward human consumption, the recreational fishing bait market and premium brands of pet food.

In 2015–16 the value of South Australia's aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 11 per cent from $227 million in 2014–15 to $252 million in 2015–16. Southern bluefin tuna is the single most valuable species in the region and South Australia's aquaculture industry, and is ranched by the Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna fishery for fattening in sea cages at Port Lincoln. Southern bluefin tuna accounted for 50 per cent (127 million) of the value of South Australian aquaculture production, followed by oysters (12 per cent; $31 million) and abalone (6 per cent; $15 million).

Commonwealth fisheries active in waters off South Australia include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or flake to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery and the Great Australian Bight sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery harvesting mainly redfish and flathead. The Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) also operates in the waters off South Australia.

In 2014–15, South Australia's fisheries product exports were valued at $250 million. The main export products include tuna, Southern rock lobster and abalone. Japan and Vietnam are the major destinations for South Australian fisheries exports, accounting for 49 per cent and 23per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Hong Kong (13 per cent), China (3 per cent) and Singapore (2 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in South Australia with an estimated 277,027 South Australians (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to November 2013. In its survey of recreational fishers in South Australia found that most fishing effort is directed to Spencer Gulf (37 per cent), the Gulf St. Vincent and Kangaroo Island waters (28 per cent), followed by West Coast (16 per cent) and the South East waters (6 per cent). Most (87 per cent) fishing effort occurred in marine waters, including estuaries, and inshore and offshore waters. The remaining 13 per cent of effort was in freshwater activity, with the majority of this effort occurring in the River Murray. The key species caught by recreational fishers include Australian salmon, blue swimmer crab, King George whiting, mulloway, snapper, southern calamari, southern garfish, southern rock lobster and pipi.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Barossa – Yorke – Mid North region was 8,400 hectares, comprised of 7,900 hectares of softwood plantations and 500 hectares of hardwood plantations. The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata) and the main hardwood species planted is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus). Major timber processing industries are located at Nuriootpa and Williamstown.

In 2011, there were 230,900 hectares of native forests in the Barossa – Yorke – Mid North region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt mallee woodland (143,600 hectares), Eucalypt low woodland (26,500 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (14,400 hectares), Eucalypt medium open (13,700 hectares), Eucalypt mallee open (13,200 hectares) and Melaleuca (8,600 hectares) forest types. There were 157,700 hectares of native forests privately owned, 34,700 hectares in nature conservation reserves and 30,000 hectares in leased forests.

In 2015–16, the total plantation area in South Australia was 178,800 hectares, comprised of 51,400 hectares of hardwood plantations, 127,200 hectares of softwood plantations and 200 hectares of other plantations.

In 2015–16, the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in South Australia was 1.2 million cubic metres valued at $94 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 3 million cubic metres valued at $227 million. No native hardwood forestry harvesting is undertaken in South Australia.

Total sales and service income in the South Australian forest and wood product industry was estimated at $2 billion in 2015–16. The income generated from the sale of wood products was 978 million and the income generated from the sale of paper and paper products was $978 million.

In 2016, South Australia's forestry sector employed 5,518 workers (0.7 per cent of the total employed workforce in South Australia) compared with 6,499 (0.9 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.

Areas of native forest, by tenure, Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region
Shows the areas of native forest, by tenure in the Barossa—Yorke—Mid North region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Source: ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013


ABS 2018, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 16 January 2019.

Last reviewed:
30 Jan 2019