Farm financial performance - South Australia

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

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In 2018–19 South Australian broadacre farms experienced a small decline in financial performance from the record high income achieved in 2016–17 (Table 1, Figure 1). Drought conditions developed in regions of South Australia. Increased numbers of beef cattle and sheep were sold for lower prices, and the size of herds and flocks was reduced. These developments put downward pressure on farm incomes, but they still remained well above the average for the previous 10 years.

In 2019–20 farm cash income of South Australian broadacre farms is projected to remain largely unchanged, at an average of $235,000 per farm—around 10% above the average for the 10 years to 2018–19 (Table 3). Average farm cash incomes are projected to fall substantially year-on-year in regions affected by drought, particularly the Northern Pastoral region and the Murray Lands and Yorke Peninsula but increase in the Eyre Peninsula (Table 2).

Figure 1 Farm cash income, broadacre farms, 1999–2000 to 2019–20
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey
Table 1 Financial performance, broadacre farms, South Australia, 2017–18 to 2019–20
average per farm
Performance measure Unit 2017–18 2018–19p RSE 2019–20y
Total cash receipts $ 615,630 648,900 (6) 640,000
Total cash costs $ 376,080 414,100 (8) 405,000
Farm cash income $ 239,550 234,800 (9) 235,000
Farm business profit $ 107,930 77,400 (22) 58,300
Profit at full equity
    - excluding capital appreciation $ 147,800 126,200 (15) 108,000
    - including capital appreciation $ 343,410 442,800 (15) na
Farm capital at 30 June a $ 5,392,700 6,126,100 (7) na
Farm debt at 30 June b $ 536,500 604,400 (15) na
Change in debt - 1 July to 30 June b % 40,080 53,500 (52) na
Equity at 30 June bc $ 4,856,190 5,521,700 (6) na
Equity ratio bd % 90 90 (1) na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b $ 272,420 299,700 (18) na
Rate of returne
    - excluding capital appreciation % 2.9 2.1 (14) 1.7
    - including capital appreciation % 6.7 7.3 (14) na
Off-farm income of owner manager and partner b $ 31,080 23,300 (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 errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Table 2 Farm cash income, South Australia, broadacre farms, by region, 2017–18 to 2019–20
average per farm
ABARES region a Unit 2017–18 2018–19p RSE 2019–20y
North Pastoral $ 399,000 326,000 (37) 142,000
Eyre Peninsula $ 148,500 333,000 (12) 480,000
Murray Lands and Yorke Peninsula $ 310,200 213,000 (15) 181,000
South East $ 172,400 205,000 (16) 201,000

a See Farm surveys definitions and methods web page for ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey (AAGIS) zones and regions map. p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. RSE Figures in parentheses are standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Table 3 Financial performance, South Australia, by industry, 2017–18 to 2019–20
average per farm
Industry Farm cash income ($) Proportion of farms (%)
2017–18 2018–19p RSE 2019–20y 2018–19p
All broadacre farms 239,500 235,000 (9) 235,000 100
Wheat and other crops 355,000 364,000 (12) 370,000 31
Mixed livestock–crops 268,900 332,000 (18) 343,000 20
Sheep 170,700 154,000 (16) 128,000 26
Beef 64,400 57,000 (77) 41,000 16
Sheep–beef 285,000 109,000 (65) 165,000 8

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. RSE Figures in parentheses are standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Farm cash income of wheat and other crops farms increased to average $364,000 per farm in 2018–19 (Table 3, Figure 2). Barley and oilseeds receipts increased as a result of increased prices and an increased area planted to barley. Total cash costs decreased slightly because of a reduction in area planted to wheat and other crops.

Despite the expansion in the area affected by drought in 2019, timely spring rains resulted in an increase in winter crop production—leading to higher crop receipts. As a result, average farm cash income of the wheat and other crops industry is expected to increase slightly in 2019–20. Farm cash income in 2019–20 is projected to be 15% above the 10-year average to 2018–19 of $322,000 per farm.

Figure 2 Farm cash income, wheat and other crops industry, 1999–2000 to 2019–20
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Farm cash income of South Australian mixed livestock–crops industry farms increased to an estimated $332,000 per farm in 2018–19 (Figure 3). Incomes increased mainly because of increased livestock and barley receipts. Total cash costs increased due to increases in expenditure on fertiliser, crop and pasture chemicals and fuel, oil and grease.

Despite the expansion in the area affected by drought in 2019, timely spring rains resulted in an increase in winter crop production—leading to higher crop receipts. As a result, the financial performance of mixed livestock–crops industry farms in South Australia is projected to increase slightly in 2019–20. Farm cash income in 2019–20 is projected to be 52% above the 10-year average to 2018–19 of $225,000 per farm.

Figure 3 Farm cash income, mixed livestock– crops industry, 1999–2000 to 2019–20
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Farm cash income of South Australian sheep industry farms decreased from $170,700 per farm in 2017–18 to an estimated $154,000 in 2018–19 (Figure 4). Incomes decreased mainly because of a reduction in the number of sheep sold leading to lower sheep receipts. Total cash costs remained stable, with increased spending on major cost items such as purchased feed, fuel, oil and grease and hired labour being offset by reductions in most other cost categories.

Average farm cash income in the sheep industry is projected to decline further to $128,000 in 2019–20.  Reduced wool prices and lower wool production, and reduced turn-off of sheep and lambs are projected to result in lower average total cash receipts per farm. Reductions in sheep numbers are projected to result in lower inventory values and reduced farm business profits in 2019–20.

Figure 4 Farm cash income, sheep industry, 1999–2000 to 2019–20
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash incomes of beef industry farms decreased by 11% to $57,000 per farm in 2018–19. Average total cash costs increased due to increased expenditure on purchased feed, repairs and maintenance, and handling and marketing expenses. This increase in total cash costs more than offset a slight increase in average total cash receipts.

In 2019–20 farm cash income of South Australian beef industry farms is projected to decrease to average $41,000 per farm (Figure 5). An increase in expenditure on purchased feed is projected to more than offset an increase in beef cattle receipts. Average farm cash income is around 51% below the 10–year average to 2018–19 of $85,000 per farm.

Figure 5 Farm cash income, beef industry, 1999–2000 to 2019–20
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash income of sheep–beef industry farms decreased from an estimated $285,000 per farm in 2017–18 to $109,000 in 2018–19 (Figure 6). Lower prices for beef cattle, sheep, lambs and wool combined with reduced beef cattle and sheep turn-off led to the decline in farm cash income. Average farm cash costs also decreased slightly due to reductions in most major cost categories, except purchased feed, however this was only partially offset the reduced receipts.

Average farm cash incomes in the sheep–beef industry are projected to recover slightly in 2019–20 to $165,000 per farm. A decline in total cash costs is projected to more than offset reduced livestock receipts. Farm cash income in 2019–20 is projected to be 17% below the 10-year average to 2018–19 of $200,000 per farm.

Figure 6 Farm cash income, sheep–beef industry, 1999–2000 to 2019–20
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash income of South Australian dairy farms increased to $253,230 per farm in 2018–19. This was a result of higher milk prices and increased milk production per farm. Increases in total cash receipts were partially offset by higher average cash costs as a result of increased expenditure on fodder, and fuel, oil and grease.

In 2019–20 dairy farmers in South Australia are expected to record an average increase in farm cash income of around 15% (Table 3 and Figure 7). Farmgate milk prices are projected to increase, contributing to an increase in average milk receipts per farm. Continued dry seasonal conditions in 2019 and high prices for hay, silage and feed grains have maintained purchased feed costs, constraining the increase in average farm cash income.

In addition to producing milk and dairy cattle, many South Australian dairy farms now earn receipts from other farm enterprises—including beef cattle, pigs and wine grapes. These receipts have contributed to the rising trend in dairy farm cash incomes in recent years (Figure 7).

Figure 7 Farm cash income, dairy farms, 1999–2000 to 2019–20
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Dairy Industry Survey
Table 4 Financial performance, dairy farms, South Australia, 2017–18 to 2019–20
average per farm
Performance measure Unit 2017–18 2018–19p RSE 2019–20y
Total cash receipts $ 1,050,220 1,250,400 (8) 1,294,000
Total cash costs $ 898,100 997,200 (9) 1,003,000
Farm cash income $ 152,120 253,200 (8) 292,000
Farm business profit $ 79,890 78,300 (35) 134,000
Profit at full equity
    - excluding capital appreciation $ 153,400 148,200 (18) 214,000
    - including capital appreciation $ 458,360 572,500 (29) na
Farm capital at 1 July a $ 6,795,580 8,547,200 (9) na
Farm debt at 30 June b $ 1,373,250 1,123,100 (19) na
Equity at 30 June bc $ 5,422,330 7,424,100 (9) na
Equity ratio bd % 80 87 (3) na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b $ 153,650 253,200 (31) na
Rate of returne
    - excluding capital appreciation % 2.5 2.0 (15) 2.7
    - including capital appreciation % 7.3 7.7 (30) na
Off-farm income of owner manager and partner b $ 18,560 15,700 (35) 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 errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian Dairy Industry Survey

South Australia had an estimated 344 vegetable-growing farms in 2017–18. Most farms were in the Mallee, Riverland and Adelaide Plains. The highest value vegetables were potatoes, onions, tomatoes and carrots (ABS 2019).

Farm cash income for South Australian vegetable-growing farms declined by an estimated 8 per cent to around $256,600 per farm in 2017–18 (Table 5). An estimated 12 per cent increase in total cash costs more than offset a rise in total cash receipts from increased vegetable production. Expenditure on seed, fertiliser, fuel, oil and grease, contracts paid and freight were the main contributors to the increase in total cash costs in 2017–18.

Average farm cash income is estimated to have declined by a further 4 per cent to $248,000 per farm in 2018–19 (Figure 8). Vegetable receipts are estimated to have increased by around 2 per cent, mainly as a result of an increase in tomatoes, carrots and cucumber receipts due to increased average prices. Average total cash costs are estimated to have increased by around 3 per cent in 2018–19.

Table 5 Selected physical and financial results, vegetable-growing farms, South Australia, 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 ($) 980,700 (25) 11 1,004,000 2
Area planted to vegetables (ha) 36 (18) 15 27 –25
Quantity of vegetables produced (t) 1,662 (20) 11 1,162 –30
Farm cash income ($) 256,600 (26) –8 248,000 –4

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: 6 May 2020
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