Farm financial performance – New South Wales

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

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Average farm cash income of New South Wales broadacre farms remained largely unchanged at around $175,600 per farm in (Table 1) 2017–18. Decreased crop production and increased costs due to higher prices for purchased feed were offset by increased livestock receipts.

Overall, broadacre farm cash income in New South Wales is estimated to have declined to average $87,000 per farm in 2018–19. This is 30 per cent below the 10-year average to 2017–18 of $123,000 (Figure 1). The far west and north-western regions of New South Wales are expected to record the largest declines in broadacre farm incomes (in percentage terms) (Table 2). Projected reductions in average farm incomes at the regional level reflect the negative impacts on crop production and pasture growth of rainfall deficiencies in 2018. These were typically less severe from north to south in the NSW wheat–sheep zone.

Figure 1 Real farm cash income, broadacre industries, 1998–99 to 2017–18
average per farm

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Table 1 Financial performance, all broadacre industries, New South Wales, 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
  Unit 2016–17 2017–18p RSE 2018–19y
Total cash receipts $ 521,860 536,200 (5) 436,000
Total cash costs $ 345,720 360,600 (5) 350,000
Farm cash income $ 176,140 175,600 (7) 87,000
Farms with negative farm cash income %   16   14 (31)   31
Farm business profit $ 104,250 2,000 (618) –69,000
Profit at full equity
    - excluding capital appreciation $ 139,210 37,800 (33) –30,000
    - including capital appreciation $ 524,760 321,400 (16) na
Farm capital at 30 June a $ 4,942,600 5,609,400 (5) na
Farm debt at 30 June b $ 616,630 656,000 (9) na
Change in debt - 1 July to 30 June b % 9 11 (32) na
Equity at 30 June bc $ 4,198,240 4,854,200 (4) na
Equity ratio bd %   87   88 (1) na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b $ 218,170 257,800 (29) na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b $ 58,310 59,900 (13) na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b %   24   25 (11) na
Rate of returne
    - excluding capital appreciation % 3.1 0.7 (32) –0.5
    - including capital appreciation % 11.8 6.0 (16) na
Off-farm income of owner manager and partner b $ 38,650 38,800 (15) na

a Excludes leased plant and equipment. b Excludes capital appreciation. c Farm capital minus farm debt. d Equity expressed as a percentage of farm capital. e Rate of return to farm capital at 1 July. p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. RSE Figures in parentheses are standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Table 2 Farm cash income of New South Wales broadacre farms, by region, 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
ABARES region Unit 2016–17 2017–18p RSE 2018–19y
111: Far West $ 313,600 280,000 (14) 3,000
121: North West Slopes and Plains $ 232,300 221,000 (16) 1,000
122: Central West $ 162,200 164,000 (14) 68,000
123: Riverina $ 226,900 215,000 (11) 173,000
131: Tablelands $ 122,200 150,000 (15) 107,000
132: Coastal $ 33,800 14,000 (61) 41,000

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Note: Each region is identified by a unique code of three digits. The first digit identifies the state or territory, the second digit identifies the zone and the third digit identifies the region.
Source: ABARES
Table 3 Financial performance in New South Wales, by industry, 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
Industry Farm cash income ($) Proportion of farms (%)
2016–17 2017–18p RSE 2018–19y 2016–17 2017–18p 2018–19y
All broadacre industries 176,100 175,600 (7) 87,000 100 100 100
Wheat and other crops 403,520 398,500 (13) 3,000 12 10 11
Mixed livestock–crops 251,600 214,500 (13) 117,000 20 17 16
Sheep 115,800 116,800 (12) 90,000 21 24 24
Beef 76,320 98,000 (48) 65,000 29 31 32
Sheep–beef 173,160 230,100 (11) 147,000 18 18 17

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Farm cash income of wheat and other crops farms remained largely unchanged at an average of $398,500 in 2017–18 (Figure 2). Increased prices received for grains offset a decline in crop receipts due to reduced per farm areas planted.

In 2018–19 average farm cash income is projected to have declined substantially to $3,000 per farm due mostly to lower crop receipts as a result of continuing dry conditions. Total cash costs are also projected to decline as a result of reduced areas planted.

Figure 2 Real farm cash income, wheat and other crops industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash income of mixed livestock–crops industry farms declined by 15 per cent to an estimated $214,500 per farm as a result of declines in crop receipts and increased costs due to dry seasonal conditions (Figure 3). Increased numbers of livestock sold and higher prices for lambs, sheep and wool partly offset the decline in total cash receipts.

In 2018–19 average farm cash income is projected to have declined by a further 45 per cent to $117,000 per farm, due mostly to lower crop receipts and higher expenditure on purchased feed for livestock as a result of continuing dry conditions.

Figure 3 Real farm cash income, mixed livestock–crops industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

In 2017–18 farm cash income for sheep industry farms remained largely unchanged at an average around $116,800 per farm. Increased receipts from selling sheep and wool as a result of higher lamb, sheep and wool prices were offset by substantial increases in purchased feed.

In 2018–19 farm cash income for New South Wales sheep industry farms is projected to have declined by 24 per cent to average $90,000 per farm (Figure 4) due mostly to higher purchased feed costs. Wool and lamb prices are forecast to be higher in 2018–19. This is expected to limit the decline in average farm cash incomes for the sheep industry farms. Farm cash income in 2018–19 is projected to be 14 per cent below the 10-year average to 2017–18.

Figure 4 Real farm cash income, sheep industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash income of New South Wales beef industry farms increased from $76,320 per farm in 2016–17 to $98,000 in 2017–18 (Figure 5). This was a result of increased cash receipts from sale of beef cattle due to increased beef cattle turn-off.

In 2018–19 average farm cash income is estimated to have declined by 33 per cent to around $65,000 per farm mostly due to higher purchased feed price and lower receipts from sales of beef cattle. This projected farm cash income is around 7 per cent higher than the 10-year average to 2017–18 of $60,500 per farm.

Figure 5 Real farm cash income, beef industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Farm cash income for sheep–beef farms increased by 33 per cent in 2017–18 to an average of $230,100 per farm (Figure 6) as a result increased receipts from selling beef, sheep, lambs and wool. Total cash costs also increased by 36 per cent due to significant increases in purchased feed.

Farm cash income is projected to have decreased by 36 per cent to $147,000 per farm in 2018–19. Average total cash receipts are projected to decline mainly as a result of reduced numbers of sheep sold despite higher prices for wool and lambs in 2018–19. Total cash costs are projected to rise due to increases in purchased feed. This average farm cash income is projected to be 22 per cent above the 10-year average to 2017–18 of $120,000.

Figure 6 Real farm cash income, sheep–beef industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash income of New South Wales dairy farms increased from an average of $172,070 per farm in 2016–17 to $178,200 in 2017–18 (Table 4). This was around 14 per cent above the 10-year average to 2016–17.Total cash receipts rose by around 12 per cent on average because of higher milk prices and increased milk production. Total cash costs also increased mainly as a result of increased expenditure on fodder and hired labour.

Average farm cash income is projected to have fallen by 66 per cent in 2018–19 compared with 2017–18 (Figure 7). Farmgate milk prices are expected to be slightly higher but milk production is projected to have fallen by more in percentage terms, leading to a decline in milk receipts. High prices for feed are contributing to increases in purchased feed costs—a major expense for this industry. Average farm business profit is projected to fall from $48,000 per farm in 2017–18 to $–123,000 in 2018–19, with a projected run-down in livestock inventories adding to the reduction in cash incomes.

Figure 7 Real farm cash income, dairy industry, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Dairy Industry Survey
Table 4 Financial performance, New South Wales dairy industry 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
  Unit 2016–17 2017–18p RSE 2018–19y
Total cash receipts $ 931,860 1,039,500 (3) 952,000
Total cash costs $ 759,790 861,300 (3) 891,000
Farm cash income $ 172,070 178,200 (11) 61,000
Farms with negative farm cash income %   13   13 (28)   27
Farm business profit $ 55,280 48,100 (47) –123,000
Profit at full equity
    - excluding capital appreciation $ 117,670 125,300 (18) –53,000
    - including capital appreciation $ 247,500 418,800 (32) na
Farm capital at 30 June a $ 5,284,010 6,097,700 (5) na
Farm debt at 30 June b $ 1,004,220 1,031,200 (10) na
Change in debt - 1 July to 30 June b % 3 –4 (85) na
Equity at 30 June bc $ 4,414,010 4,745,700 (6) na
Equity ratio bd %   82   82 (2) na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b $ 522,830 273,100 (46) na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b $ 37,350 45,900 (31) na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b %   21   20 (30) na
Rate of returne
    - excluding capital appreciation % 2.3 2.2 (18) –0.9
    - including capital appreciation % 4.9 7.3 (33) na
Off-farm income of owner manager and partner b $ 18,640 17,500 (19) na

a Excludes leased plant and equipment. b Excludes capital appreciation. c Farm capital minus farm debt. d Equity expressed as a percentage of farm capital. e Rate of return to farm capital at 1 July. p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. RSE Figures in parentheses are standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian Dairy Industry Survey

New South Wales had an estimated 580 vegetable-growing farms in 2017–18. Most farms were in Greater Sydney, the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and the Far North Coast. The highest value vegetables were mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes and melons (ABS 2019). New South Wales had the smallest average area operated (108 hectares) and area of vegetables cropped (22 hectares). This is mainly because of the relatively high proportion of farms in the Greater Sydney region which are typically small ‘market garden’ type growers.

In 2017–18, average farm cash income for New South Wales vegetable-growing farms increased by an estimated 19 per cent to $204,200 per farm (Table 5). Total vegetable production per farm increased as a result of a rise in average area planted to vegetables. Average total cash costs increased by 17 per cent to around $408,500 per farm. Contracts paid, freight, hired labour and seed costs were the largest contributors to the increase in total cash costs in 2017–18.

Average farm cash income is estimated to have increased by a further 28 per cent in 2018–19 to $261,000 per farm (Figure 8), mainly because of an increase in average vegetable prices and quantity of vegetables sold.

Table 5 Selected physical and financial results, Australian vegetable-growing farms, New South Wales, 2017–18 and 2018–19
average per farm
Indicator 2017–18p RSE % change from 2016–17 2018–19y % change from 2017–18
Vegetable cash receipts ($) 548,800 (71) 15 624,000 14
Area planted to vegetables (ha) 22 (10) 19 21 –7
Quantity of vegetables produced (t) 606 (23) 13 608 0.3
Farm cash income ($) 204,200 (83) 19 261,000 28

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Note: Figures in parentheses are standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate.
Source: Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Figure 8 Farm cash income, vegetable-growing farms, 2007–08 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Major financial performance indicators

  • Total cash receipts: total revenues received by the business during the financial year.
  • Total cash costs: payments made by the business for materials and services and for permanent and casual hired labour (excluding owner manager, partner and family labour).
  • Farm cash income: total cash receipts - total cash costs
  • Farm business profit: farm cash income + changes in trading stocks - depreciation - imputed labour costs
  • Profit at full equity:return produced by all the resources used in the business, farm business profit + rent + interest + finance lease payments - depreciation on leased items
  • Rate of return: return to all capital used, profit at full equity * 100 / total opening capital
  • Equity ratio: farm capital minus farm debt expressed as a percentage of farm capital

Industry types

  • Grains: farms mainly engaged in producing broadacre crops such as wheat, coarse grains, oilseeds and pulses, and including farms running sheep and/or beef cattle in conjunction with substantial broadacre crop activity.
  • Sheep: farms mainly engaged in running sheep.
  • Beef: farms mainly engaged in running beef cattle.
  • Dairy: farms mainly engaged in milk production.
  • Vegetable: farms mainly engaged in growing vegetables.

Farm surveys definitions and methods
Further information about our survey definitions and methods.

Last reviewed: 24 January 2020
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