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.
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).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 52,600 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 3 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 6,700 people, followed by retail trade with 6,000 people, and public administration and safety with 5,500 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; construction; and accommodation and food services. Agriculture, forestry and fishing employed 2,900 people, representing 6 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Far West and Orana region was $1.3 billion, which was 10 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13 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 cotton ($305 million), followed by cattle and calves ($257 million), and wool ($248 million). These commodities together contributed 63 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. Additionally, in 2017–18 the Far West and Orana region accounted for 54 per cent ($6 million) of the total value of the state's sweet corn production.
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.
|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|
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.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in New South Wales.
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.
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.