About my region – Riverina 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 Riverina region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Riverina region of New South Wales is located in the south of the state, extending from the Snowy Mountains north west through the Murrumbidgee River catchment area. The region includes the major regional centres of Wagga Wagga and Griffith and the local government areas of Coolamon, Griffith, Gundagai, Junee, Leeton, Lockhart, Narrandera, Snowy Valleys, Temora, and Wagga Wagga, as well as parts of Bland, Carrathool, Greater Hume Shire, Federation, Murrumbidgee, and Yass Valley local government areas. The region covers a total area of around 57,000 square kilometres or 7 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 160,000 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Riverina region occupies 44,600 square kilometres, or 78 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 9,100 square kilometres, or 16 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 22,100 square kilometres or 39 per cent of the Riverina region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the Riverina region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Riverina 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 November 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 84,600 people were employed in the Riverina region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 12 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 15,800 people, followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing sector with 10,300 people, and construction with 8,100 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; manufacturing; and retail trade. Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector represented 12 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Riverina region, November 2019
Shows the number of people employed in the Riverina 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 2019

Agricultural sector​

Value of agricultural production

In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Riverina region was $2.5 billion, which was 19 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13 billion).

The Riverina region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($375 million), followed by cotton ($347 million) and cattle and calves ($247 million). These commodities together contributed 38 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the Riverina region accounted for 99 per cent ($12 million) of the total value of the state's olive production.

Value of agricultural production, Riverina region, New South Wales 2017–18
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Riverina 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 2019

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were 3,069 farms in the Riverina region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 13 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Riverina region, 2017–18
Industry classification Riverina region New South Wales
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming

 

       682

 

22.2

 

     3,357

 

20.3

 

Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)

 

       529

 

17.2

 

     6,250

 

8.5

 

Other Grain Growing

 

       504

 

16.4

 

     2,230

 

22.6

 

Sheep Farming (Specialised)

 

       255

 

8.3

 

     3,108

 

8.2

 

Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming

 

       247

 

8.1

 

     2,644

 

9.4

 

Grape Growing

 

       195

 

6.4

 

         404

 

48.3

 

Rice Growing

 

       184

 

6.0

 

         366

 

50.3

 

Citrus Fruit Growing

 

       171

 

5.6

 

         235

 

72.5

 

Cotton Growing

 

       103

 

3.4

 

         435

 

23.7

 

Dairy Cattle Farming

 

          41

 

1.3

 

         691

 

5.9

 

Other

       158

 

5.1

 

     3,592

 

4.4

 

Total agriculture

    3,069

 

100

 

   23,314

 

13.2

 

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. Grain-sheep or grain-beef cattle farms (682 farms) were the most common, accounting for 22 per cent of all farms in the Riverina region, and 20 per cent of all grain-sheep or grain-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 26 per cent of farms in the Riverina region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 4 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 15 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 55 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Riverina region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Riverina region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Riverina 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 Riverina region was about 96,900 hectares, comprised of less than 100 hectares of hardwood plantations and 96,840 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 1.0 million hectares of native forests in the Riverina region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (496,700 hectares), Eucalypt Medium Woodland (116,500 hectares) and Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (112,900 hectares). The majority of the native forests were in conservation reserves (441,100 hectares), while 271,800 hectares were privately managed and 149,500 hectares were on leasehold land. There were 126,000 hectares on 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.

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 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.

Last reviewed: 20 January 2020
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