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 North West region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.
The North West region spans the North West corner of Victoria, between the South Australian and New South Wales borders. The region comprises the ten local government areas of Ararat, Buloke, Gannawarra, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Mildura, Northern Grampians, Swan Hill, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack, part of Pyrenees, and the major regional centres of Ararat, Horsham and Mildura. The region covers a total area of around 78,100 square kilometres or 34 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 152,100 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the North West region occupies 52,300 square kilometres, or 67 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 20,000 square kilometres, or 26 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is dryland cropping, which occupies 31,000 square kilometres or 40 per cent of the North West region (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 72,300 people were employed in the North West region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 15 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 13,900 people, representing 19 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 11,100 people, followed by manufacturing with 5,700 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were retail trade; accommodation and food services; and construction.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the North West region was $4.2 billion, which was 28 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15 billion).
The North West region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($657 million), followed by sheep and lambs ($526 million) and wool ($436 million). These commodities together contributed 38 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the North West region accounted for 100 per cent ($322 million) of the total value of Victoria's almonds production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2016–17 there were 4,455 farms in the North West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 20 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.
Number of farms, by industry classification, North West region, 2016–17
|Industry classification||North West region||Victoria|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Other Grain Growing||1,660||37.3||2,320||71.5|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||919||20.6||1,920||47.9|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||576||12.9||2,795||20.6|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||180||4.0||3,928||4.6|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||82||1.8||5,642||1.5|
|Stone Fruit Growing||71||1.6||185||38.2|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||56||1.3||1,283||4.3|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||54||1.2||513||10.6|
|Citrus Fruit Growing||53||1.2||67||79.0|
|Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing||51||1.1||87||58.1|
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
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 (1,660 farms) were the most common, accounting for 37 per cent of all farms in the North West region, and 72 per cent of all other grain growing 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 16 per cent of farms in the North West region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for 2 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2016–17. In comparison, 26 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 North West region in 2016–17.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the North West region was 35,100 hectares, comprised of 26,700 hectares of hardwood plantations and 8,400 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were 1.9 million hectares of native forests in the North West region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt mallee woodland (1.1 million hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (316,000 hectares), Casuarina (143,600 hectares) and Eucalypt medium open (102,700 hectares) forest types. There were 1.3 million hectares native forests in nature conservation reserves, 242,600 hectares were privately managed and 279,700 hectares were in multiple-use public forests available for timber production. Timber processing industries are located at Koondrook.
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.
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.
Areas of native forest, by tenure, North West regionSource:
ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013
Land Use of Australia 2010–11, ABARES, Canberra, May.
Catchment scale land use of Australia – December 2018, Canberra, December.
Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.
Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, Feb 2019, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 03 April 2019.
Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017-18, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 May 2019.