About my region – New England and North West 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 and forestry sectors in the New England and North West region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The New England and North West region of New South Wales is located in the north of the state and west of the Great Dividing Range, including the tableland areas around Armidale and north to the Queensland border. The region comprises the eleven local government areas of Glen Innes Severn, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Tamworth Regional, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha, and most of the Armidale Regional local government area. The region covers a total area of around 99,100 square kilometres or 12 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 186,200 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the New England and North West region occupies 79,400 square kilometres, or 80 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 14,400 square kilometres, or 15 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 39,200 square kilometres or 40 per cent of the New England and North West region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the New England and North West region
Shows a map of broad land use in the New England and North West 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 89,300 people were employed in the New England and North West region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 17 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 13,900 people, representing 16 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 12,500 people, followed by education and training with 9,200 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were retail trade; construction; and transport, postal and warehousing.

Employment profile, New England and North West region, May 2020
Shows the number of people employed in the New England and North West region by industry in thousands. The figure is discussed in the previous two paragraphs.
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 New England and North West region was $1.8 billion, which was 15 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($11.7 billion).

The New England and North West 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 ($611 million), followed by cotton ($390 million) and wool ($115 million). These commodities together contributed 64 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the New England and North West region accounted for 86 per cent ($67 million) of the total value of the state's sorghum production.

Value of agricultural production, New England and North West region, 201819
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the New England and North West region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous two 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 3,943 farms in the New England and North West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 17 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, New England and North West region, 2017–18
Industry classification New England and North West region New South Wales
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)     1,617 41.0      6,250 25.9
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming        634 16.1      2,644 24.0
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming        483 12.2      3,357 14.4
Other Grain Growing        466 11.8      2,230 20.9
Sheep Farming (Specialised)        277 7.0      3,108 8.9
Cotton Growing        218 5.5          435 50.2
Horse Farming           73 1.8          540 13.5
Other        176 4.5      4,749 3.7
Total agriculture     3,943 100    23,314 17

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. Beef cattle farms (1,617 farms) were the most common, accounting for 41 per cent of all farms in the New England and North West region, and 26 per cent of all beef cattle 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 37 per cent of farms in the New England and North West 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, 14 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 61 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the New England and North West region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, New England and North West region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the New England and North West 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 the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the New England and North West region was about 25,100 hectares, comprised of 11,650 hectares of hardwood plantations and 13,420 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in New South Wales are Dunns white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii), blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) and shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens).  The main softwood plantation species in New South Wales are radiata pine (Pinus radiata) and other pine species (various).

In 2016 there were about 3.3 million hectares of native forests in the New England and North West region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (1.0 million hectares), Eucalypt Medium Open (854,600 hectares) and Callitris (537,500 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (1,948,500 hectares), while 813,600 hectares were in conservation reserves and 381,100 hectares were on multiple use public forest available for timber 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: 3 November 2020
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