About my region – Ballarat Victoria
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 Ballarat region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.
The Ballarat region is located in the south west of Victoria (refer to land use map below). The region comprises the four local government areas of Ballarat, Central Goldfields, Hepburn and Pyrenees, and parts of the Ararat, Golden Plains, Loddon, Moorabool, and Mount Alexander local government areas. The region incorporates the major regional centre of Ballarat. The region covers a total area of around 10,300 square kilometres or 5 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 162,400 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the Ballarat region occupies 6,500 square kilometres, or 63 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 1,000 square kilometres, or 10 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 4,900 square kilometres or 47 per cent of the Ballarat region (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 78,600 people were employed in the Ballarat region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 2 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 11,600 people, followed by retail trade with 9,400 people, and construction with 9,100 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; education and training; and manufacturing. Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 1,600 people, representing 2 per cent of the region’s workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Ballarat region was $638 million, which was 4 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15 billion).
The Ballarat region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were sheep and lambs ($136 million), followed by wool ($108 million) and cattle and calves ($59 million). These commodities together contributed 48 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the Ballarat region accounted for 52 per cent ($56 million) of the total value of Victoria's potato production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were 1,043 farms in the Ballarat region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 5 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.
|Industry classification||Ballarat region||Victoria|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||292||28.0||2,945||9.9|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||183||17.6||1,956||9.4|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||159||15.3||4,975||3.2|
|Other Grain Growing||97||9.3||1,986||4.9|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||73||7.0||443||16.5|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||69||6.6||3,547||1.9|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||60||5.8||1,286||4.7|
|Nursery Production (Outdoors)||21||2.0||155||13.6|
|Other Crop Growing nec||13||1.3||120||11.1|
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 2019
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Sheep farms (292 farms) were the most common, accounting for 28 per cent of all farms in the Ballarat region, and 10 per cent of all sheep 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 32 per cent of farms in the Ballarat region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 6 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 12 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 44 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Ballarat region in 2017–18.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Victoria.
In 2014–15 the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Ballarat region was about 22,000 hectares, comprised of 8,470 hectares of hardwood plantations and 13,530 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in Victoria are Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens). The main softwood plantation species in Victoria is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2016 there were about 256,400 hectares of native forests in the Ballarat region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (175,700 hectares), Eucalypt Medium Woodland (39,100 hectares) and Eucalypt Tall Open (17,600 hectares). The majority of the native forests were multiple use public forest available for timber production (122,900 hectares), while 72,900 hectares were privately managed and 52,400 hectares were on in conservation reserves.
Victoria state data
In 2017–18, the total plantation area in Victoria was 420,600 hectares, comprised of 196,300 hectares of hardwood plantations and 223,400 hectares of softwood plantations.
In 2016, Victoria had 34 sawmills (including 9 softwood sawmills), 8 post and pole processors, 3 wood based panel processors and 5 paper and paperboard processors.
In 2016, there were 7.6 million hectares of native forests in Victoria, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (3.1 million hectares), Eucalypt Tall Open (1.4 million hectares) and Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (1.3 million hectares).
In 2017–18, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 1.2 million cubic metres, valued at $103.5 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 3.6 million cubic metres, valued at $262.3 million. The volume of plantation softwood logs harvested in Victoria was 4.3 million cubic metres, valued at $341.5 million.
In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Victoria was $3.6 billion. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.
In 2016, the Victoria forestry sector employed 15,105 workers (0.60 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 20,167 (0.74 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry and logging, forestry support services, wood product manufacturing and 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, November 2019, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 January 2020.
ABS 2019b Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017-18, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 15 May 2019.