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 2016–17 farm cash incomes for South Australian broadacre farms were the highest recorded in over 40 years, the result of record grain production and strong grain, beef and lamb prices. Lower grain production in 2017–18 resulted in the average farm cash income of South Australian broadacre farms declining slightly, but still remaining well above the average for the previous 10 years.

Farm cash income is projected to decline from an average of $248,100 per farm in 2017–18 to $219,000 in 2018–19 —around 14 per cent above the average for the 10 years to 2017–18 (Figure 1, Table 1). 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 Real farm cash income, broadacre industries, 1998–99 to 2018–19
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey
Table 1 Financial performance, all broadacre industries, South Australia, 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
  Unit 2016–17 2017–18p RSE 2018–19y
Total cash receipts $ 662,760 646,700 (7) 648,000
Total cash costs $ 407,220 398,600 (7) 428,000
Farm cash income $ 255,540 248,100 (10) 219,000
Farms with negative farm cash income %   3   9 (44)   15
Farm business profit $ 160,600 114,300 (19) 79,000
Profit at full equity
    - excluding capital appreciation $ 199,460 158,700 (15) 131,000
    - including capital appreciation $ 356,380 376,700 (16) na
Farm capital at 30 June a $ 5,214,200 5,802,700 (8) na
Farm debt at 30 June b $ 499,180 567,300 (13) na
Change in debt - 1 July to 30 June b % 7 5 (78) na
Equity at 30 June bc $ 4,239,420 5,203,900 (10) na
Equity ratio bd %   90   90 (1) na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b $ 275,880 245,600 (12) na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b $ 130,010 120,400 (17) na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b %   42   46 (17) na
Rate of returne
    - excluding capital appreciation % 4.1 2.9 (12) 2.1
    - including capital appreciation % 7.3 6.9 (15) na
Off-farm income of owner manager and partner b $ 30,470 32,000 (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 broadacre farms, by region, South Australia, 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
ABARES region Unit 2016–17 2017–18p RSE 2018–19y
411: North Pastoral $ 297,000 416,000 (23) 215,000
421: Eyre Peninsula $ 298,600 162,000 (22) 318,000
422: Murray Lands and Yorke Peninsula $ 315,100 331,000 (15) 205,000
431: South East $ 157,100 163,000 (18) 191,000

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 South Australia, 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 255,540 248,100 (10) 219,000 100 100 100
Wheat and other crops 358,000 342,000 (17) 192,000 36 32 38
Mixed livestock–crops 303,900 317,500 (22) 318,000 22 24 27
Sheep 143,690 153,900 (22) 229,000 24 20 15
Beef 72,600 79,000 (33) 58,000 12 16 9
Sheep–beef 258,900 225,200 (25) 197,000 6 8 11

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

Farm cash income of wheat and other crops farms declined by 5 per cent from $358,000 in 2016–17 to $342,000 in 2017–18 (Figure 2). This was around 28 per cent above the 10-year average of farm cash income to 2016–17 of $273,000. Wheat and oilseeds receipts increased as a result of increased prices and increased oilseeds area planted. Declines in other crop receipts led to a slight fall in total cash receipts. Total cash costs also declined slightly because of the reduction in area planted to wheat and other crops.

The financial performance of South Australian farms in the wheat and other crops industry in 2018–19 reflects a mixture of good performance among crop specialists (including in the southern Eyre Peninsula) and drought-affected performance in the eastern and mid-north portion of the Murray Lands and Yorke Peninsula region. Overall, farm cash income is projected to decline by 44 per cent to average $192,000, mainly as a result of reduced crop production due to dry seasonal conditions.

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

Farm cash income of South Australian mixed livestock–crops industry farms increased to an estimated $317,500 per farm in 2017–18 (Figure 3). Incomes increased mainly because of increased livestock and barley receipts. Total cash costs increased due to increases in expenditure on livestock purchases, hired labour and fertiliser.

In 2018–19 the financial performance of mixed livestock–crops industry farms in South Australia is projected to remain unchanged compared to 2017–18. Livestock receipts are projected to increase as a result of higher prices for wool and sheep. Most of the major cost items are projected to increase while expenditure on livestock purchases is projected to decline in 2018–19. Projected farm cash income is 62 per cent above the 10-year average to 2017–18.

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

Farm cash income of South Australian sheep industry farms increased from $143,690 per farm in 2016–17 to an estimated $153,900 in 2017–18 (Figure 4). Incomes increased mainly because of higher prices for wool and sheep, and increased wool production and number of sheep sold. Total cash costs also increased by 30 per cent in 2017–18 as a result of increased spending on major cost items such as increased livestock purchases and purchased feed.

Average farm cash income in the sheep industry is projected to improve further to $229,000 in 2018–19. Higher prices for wool and sheep, combined with projected increases in number of sheep sold and wool produced, are expected to more than offset increases in major cost components such as purchased feed , fertiliser, and repairs and maintenance.

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 incomes of beef industry farms increased by 7 per cent to $79,000 per farm in 2017–18. Average total cash receipts declined as a result of lower prices for beef cattle and the number of beef cattle sold. Average total cash costs also declined due to reduced expenditure on repairs and maintenance, handling and marketing expenses, and hired labour.

In 2018–19 farm cash income of South Australian beef industry farms is projected to decrease to average $58,000 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 33 per cent below the 10–year average to 2017–18 of $87,000 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

In 2017–18 farm cash income of sheep–beef industry farms decreased by 13 per cent to an estimated $225,200 per farm (Figure 6). Lower cattle prices and reduced beef cattle and sheep turn-off led to the decline in farm cash income, despite higher wool, sheep and lamb prices and lower total cash costs.

Average farm cash incomes in the sheep–beef industry are projected to decline further in 2018–19 to $197,000 per farm. Reduced livestock receipts are projected to more than offset a projected decline in total cash costs. Farm cash income in 2018–19 is projected to be similar to the 10-year average to 2017–18 of $193,000 per farm.

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 South Australian dairy farms increased to $152,300 per farm in 2017–18. 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, hired labour, repairs and maintenance, and fuel, oil and grease.

On average, dairy farmers in South Australia are expected to record a decrease in farm cash incomes in 2018–19 of around 24 per cent (Figure 7). Milk production and milk receipts are projected to increase slightly in 2018–19 (around 2 per cent per farm, on average) but costs are expected to increase more, particularly for purchased feed. Average farm business profit is expected to fall by more than the decrease in farm cash income due to a decline in on-farm trading stocks (Table 4), which were large and positive in 2017–18 (when farmers built up herds of dairy and beef cattle) but negative in 2018–19 (as farmers reduce dairy cattle numbers). As a result, average farm business profit in 2018–19 on dairy farms in South Australia is projected to be well below the longer-term average, and only marginally above the level recorded in 2006–07 during the Millennium Drought.

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, South Australia dairy industry, 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
  Unit 2016–17 2017–18p RSE 2018–19y
Total cash receipts $ 857,990 1,050,200 (6) 1,150,000
Total cash costs $ 727,010 897,900 (7) 1,035,000
Farm cash income $ 130,980 152,300 (21) 116,000
Farms with negative farm cash income %   28   23 (52)   28
Farm business profit $ 15,390 85,100 (45) –58,000
Profit at full equity
    - excluding capital appreciation $ 91,370 158,500 (28) 17,000
    - including capital appreciation $ 404,500 567,300 (23) na
Farm capital at 1 July a $ 5,551,420 6,834,500 (5) na
Farm debt at 30 June b $ 1,026,410 1,359,800 (21) na
Change in debt - 1 July to 30 June b % 3 –5 (115) na
Equity at 30 June bc $ 4,177,470 5,543,900 (9) na
Equity ratio bd %   80   80 (5) na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b $ 118,180 153,600 (28) na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b $ 62,290 86,900 (47) na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b %   26   29 (41) na
Rate of return e
    - excluding capital appreciation % 1.8 2.5 (30) 0.2
    - including capital appreciation % 7.8 9.1 (23) na
Off-farm income of owner manager and partner b $ 18,630 18,600 (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

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: 24 January 2020
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