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 Victoria and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
Victoria covers a total area of around 226,900 square kilometres and is home to approximately 6,321,600 people (ABS 2018). Agricultural land in Victoria occupies 128,000 square kilometres, or around 56 per cent of the state. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 49,100 square kilometres, or 22 per cent of the state (refer to land use map below). The most common land use by area is grazing of modified pasture, which occupies 72,500 square kilometres or 32 per cent of the state (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 3.3 million people were employed in the state of Victoria.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 435,200 people, followed by retail trade with 343,400 people, and construction with 310,900 people. Other important employment sectors in the state were professional, scientific and technical services; manufacturing; and education and training. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 92,200 people, representing 3 per cent of the state's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in Victoria was $15 billion, which was 25 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia ($59 billion).
The most important commodities in Victoria based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($2.6 billion), followed by cattle and calves ($2 billion) and sheep and lambs ($1.8 billion). These commodities together contributed 43 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the state.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 21,860 farms in Victoria with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The state contains 25 per cent of all farm businesses in Australia.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Victoria, 2016–17
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of Vic to Australian total %|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)|| 5,642||25.8|| 24,210||23.3|
|Dairy Cattle Farming|| 3,928||18.0|| 6,248||62.9|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)|| 2,795||12.8|| 8,387||33.3|
|Other Grain Growing|| 2,320||10.6|| 11,771||19.7|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming|| 1,920||8.8|| 9,871||19.5|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming|| 1,283||5.9|| 4,970||25.8|
|Grape Growing|| 846||3.9|| 3,128||27.1|
|Horse Farming|| 604||2.8|| 2,172||27.8|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)|| 513||2.3|| 2,679||19.1|
|Other Crop Growing
nec|| 265||1.2|| 755||35.0|
|Other|| 1,745||8|| 13,302||13.1|
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. Beef cattle farms (5,642) were the most common, accounting for 26 per cent of all farms in Victoria.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 25 per cent of farms in Victoria 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 state had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 57 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in Victoria in 2016–17.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in Victoria.
In 2015–16 the gross value of Victoria's fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild–catch) was $86 million, a decrease of 3 per cent ($2.4 million) from 2014–15. Victoria contributed 3 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 68 per cent ($57.8 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 32 per cent ($27.6 million).
Victoria's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products—abalone and Southern rock lobster—which account for 34 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2015–16. Over the last decade the real value of Victoria's wild-caught fisheries products has reduced by 42 per cent to $57.8 million in 2015–16.
The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is wild—caught abalone, falling by 70 per cent to $19.7 million in 2015–16. This is largely attributable to the Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis disease which has significantly reduced abalone production in the Victorian wild–catch sector in recent years. 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.
Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off Victoria include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or 'flake' to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) and the Southern Squid Jig Fishery also operate in the waters off Victoria.
In 2015–16 the volume of Victoria's aquaculture production was 2,670 tonnes. Salmonids, blue mussels and abalone accounted for 50 per cent, 29 per cent and 12 per cent respectively of this volume and 40 per cent, 12 per cent and 40 per cent respectively of the total value of Victorian aquaculture production in 2015–16.
In 2015–16, fisheries products exported from Victoria were valued at $193 million. This value includes State and Commonwealth fisheries products exported from the ports of Victoria, which may be sourced from Victorian waters or other parts of the country. The main export products include abalone and Southern rock lobster. Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore are the major destinations for Victorian fisheries exports, accounting for 53 per cent, 14 per cent and 7 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (6 per cent) and China (4 per cent).
Recreational fishing is popular in Victoria. In the national survey of recreational fishers undertaken in the early 2000s it was found that Victoria had approximately 550,000 recreational fishers that fished in the 12 months to May 2000, an estimated 12.7 per cent of Victoria's population (Henry & Lyle 2003). This includes gamefishing for species such as southern bluefin tuna (Green et al 2012). Recreational fishing also includes diving for Southern rock lobster, abalone, and scallops and hook and line fishing for a range of finfish species, such as snapper, King George whiting, black bream and flathead. Freshwater anglers target rainbow and brown trout, as well as native freshwater fish.
In 2015–16, the total plantation area in Victoria was 423,000 hectares, comprised of 199,000 hectares of hardwood plantations, 223,300 hectares of softwood plantations and 800 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 7.7 million hectares of native forests in Victoria, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium open (3.1 million hectares), Eucalypt tall open (1.4 million hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (1.1 million hectares) and Eucalypt mallee woodland (1.1 million hectares) forest types. The majority of native forests were in nature conservation reserves (3.3 million hectares), 3 million hectares were multiple-use public forests available for timber production and 1.2 million hectares were privately managed (refer to figure below). Major timber industries are located in Ballarat, Beauford, Benalla, Colac, Koondrook, Maryvale, Milltown, Myrtleford, Nowa Nowa, Portland, Wangaratta and Yarram.
In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 1.3 million cubic metres valued at $112 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 2.8 million cubic metres valued at $194 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4 million cubic metres valued at $293 million.
The sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Victoria was estimated at $3.4 billion in 2015–16. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2015−16.
In 2016, the Victorian forestry sector employed 16,713 workers (0.6 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 21,825 (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.
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.
Green, C, Brown, P, Giri K, Bell, J & Conron, S 2012, Quantifying the recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna off the Victorian coast, Recreational Fishing Grants Program research report R09/10/03, Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne, Victoria.
Henry, GW & Lyle JM (eds) 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Final report to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, NSW Fisheries final report series, no. 48, FRDC project no. 99/158, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.