About my region – Far West and Orana New South Wales

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 sector in the Far West and Orana region and the recent financial performance of the New South Wales broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Far West and Orana region of New South Wales is located in the north-west corner of the state extending north-west from Dubbo to the borders with South Australia and Queensland. It includes the towns of Bourke and Wilcannia on the Darling River, and Broken Hill. The region comprises the eleven local government areas of Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Central Darling, Cobar, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Narromine, Walgett, and Warren, and parts of the Cabonne, Lachlan, Warrumbungle Shire and Western Plains Regional areas. The region covers a total area of around 339,400 square kilometres or 42 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 116,700 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Far West and Orana region occupies 306,900 square kilometres, or 90 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas, and minimal use) occupy 24,600 square kilometres, or 7 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 249,600 square kilometres or 74 per cent of the Far West and Orana region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Far West and Orana region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Far West and Orana 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 - Update December 2018

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the May 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 53,300 people were employed in the Far West and Orana region. The region accounts for 1 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 5 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Health care and social assistance and public administration and safety were the largest employment sectors with 6,800 people in each sector, followed by education and training with 5,500 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; retail trade; and agriculture, forestry and fishing. Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 3,800 people, representing 7 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Far West and Orana region, May 2020
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Note: Annual average of the preceding 4 quarters.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 6291.0, Labour Force, Australia 2020

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Far West and Orana region was $1 billion, which was 9 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($11.7 billion).

The Far West and Orana 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 ($289 million), followed by sheep and lambs ($248 million), and wool ($235 million). These commodities together contributed 74 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. Additionally, in 2018–19 the Far West and Orana region accounted for 20 per cent ($2 million) of the total value of the state's sweet corn production.

Value of agricultural production, Far West and Orana region, 2018–19
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Far West and Orana 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 2020

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were 2,690 farms in the Far West and Orana region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 12 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Far West and Orana region, 2017–18
Industry classification Far West and Orana region New South Wales
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Sheep Farming (Specialised) 659 24.5 3,108 21.2
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming 571 21.2 3,357 17.0
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised) 544 20.2 6,250 8.7
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming 399 14.8      2,644 15.1
Other Grain Growing 332 12.3      2,230 14.9
Cotton Growing 89 3.3 435 20.4
Other 98 3.6 5,289 1.8
Total agriculture 2,690 100 23,314 12

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 (659 farms) were the most common, accounting for 24 per cent of all farms in the Far West and Orana region, and 21 per cent of all sheep farms in New South Wales.

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 Far West and Orana 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, 10 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 47 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Far West and Orana region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Far West and Orana region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Far West and Orana region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2017–18 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 2019

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in New South Wales.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15 there were less than 100 hectares of plantation area in the Far West and Orana region.

In 2016 there were about 4.9 million hectares of native forests in the Far West and Orana region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (2.1 million hectares), Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (752,300 hectares) and Acacia (656,000 hectares). The majority of the native forests were leasehold land (3,230,500 hectares), while 851,600 hectares were privately managed and 522,700 hectares were on in conservation reserves. There were 111,000 hectares in multiple use native forest available for wood production.

New South Wales state data

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in New South Wales was 393,200 hectares, comprised of 87,100 hectares of hardwood plantations and 306,000 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2016, New South Wales had 85 sawmills (including 17 softwood sawmills), 2 post and pole processors, 7 wood based panel processors and 5 paper and paperboard processors.

In 2016, there were 19.9 million hectares of native forests in New South Wales, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (6.0 million hectares), Eucalypt Medium Open (4.7 million hectares) and Eucalypt Tall Open (2.3 million hectares).

In 2017–18, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in New South Wales was 977,000 cubic metres, valued at $128.5 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in New South Wales was 254,000 cubic metres, valued at $21.9 million. The volume of plantation softwood logs harvested in New South Wales was 5.0 million cubic metres, valued at $393.5 million.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in New South Wales was $4.7 billion and for paper and paper products was $4.0 billion.

In 2016, the New South Wales forestry sector employed 16,396 workers (0.52 per cent of the total employed workforce in New South Wales) compared with 21,082 (0.62 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.

References

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 2020a, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, May 2020, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 30 June 2020.

ABS 2020b, Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2018-19, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 29 May 2020.



 
Last reviewed: 23 July 2020
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