About my region – Darling Downs — Maranoa Queensland
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 Darling Downs — Maranoa region and the recent Queensland financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Darling Downs — Maranoa region of Queensland is located in the south of the state along the New South Wales border. The region comprises the six local government areas of Balonne, Goondiwindi, Maranoa, Southern Downs, Toowoomba, and Western Downs, and the major regional towns of Dalby, Warwick, Goondiwindi, St George, Roma and Mitchell. The region covers a total area of around 166,400 square kilometres or 10 per cent of Queensland's total area and is home to approximately 128,800 people (ABS 2018).
Agricultural land in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region occupies 142,200 square kilometres, or 85 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 11,400 square kilometres, or 7 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 95,100 square kilometres or 57 per cent of the Darling Downs — Maranoa region (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2019 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 66,600 people were employed in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region. The region accounts for 3 per cent of total employment in Queensland and 21 per cent of all people employed in the Queensland agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector employing 16,100 people, representing 24 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 9,000 people, followed by accommodation and food services with 5,800 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were manufacturing; construction; and public administration and safety.
Value of agricultural production
In 2017–18, the gross value of agricultural production in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region was $3.3 billion, which was 25 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Queensland ($13 billion).
The Darling Downs — Maranoa 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 ($1.1 billion), followed by cotton ($601 million) and sorghum ($211 million). These commodities together contributed 57 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the Darling Downs — Maranoa region accounted for 100 per cent ($51 million) of the total value of the state's apples production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were 4,357 farms in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 25 per cent of all farm businesses in Queensland.
|Industry classification||Darling Downs — Maranoa region||Queensland|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||2,047||47.0||8,288||24.7|
|Other Grain Growing||692||15.9||985||70.2|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||578||13.3||821||70.4|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||101||2.3||291||34.8|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||86||2.0||423||20.3|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||84||1.9||639||13.2|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||80||1.8||166||48.3|
|Other Crop Growing nec||68||1.6||238||28.6|
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. nec not elsewhere classified.
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 (2,047 farms) were the most common, accounting for 47 per cent of all farms in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region, and 25 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Queensland.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 30 per cent of farms in the Darling Downs — Maranoa 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, 18 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 62 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region in 2017–18.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, dairy and vegetable farms in Queensland.
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Darling Downs - Maranoa region was 12,400 hectares, comprised of 3,100 hectares of hardwood plantations and 9,300 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in Queensland is Dunns white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii). The main softwood plantation species in Queensland are Slash Pine hybrid (Pinus elliottii hybrid), Southern Pine hybrid (Pinus caribaea hybrid) and Hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamii).
In 2016 there were 4.4 million hectares of native forests in the Darling Downs - Maranoa region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (3.0 million hectares), Acacia (390,600 hectares) and Eucalypt Medium Open (363,800 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (2,013,200 hectares), while 1,144,400 hectares were multiple use public forest available for timber production and 864,700 hectares were on leasehold land.
Queensland state data
In 2017–18, the total plantation area in Queensland was 230,500 hectares, comprised of 34,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 195,600 hectares of softwood plantations.
In 2016, Queensland had 77 sawmills (including 31 softwood sawmills), 3 post and pole processors, 6 wood-based panel processors and 2 paper and paperboard processors.
In 2016, there were 51.6 million hectares of native forests in Queensland, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Woodland (27.1 million hectares), Melaleuca (5.1 million hectares) and Acacia (5.1 million hectares).
In 2017–18 the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Queensland was 279 thousand cubic metres valued at $39.7 million. There were no plantation hardwood logs harvested in this period. The volume of softwood logs harvested was 2.9 million cubic metres valued at $257.6 million.
In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Queensland was $2.6 billion. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.
In 2016 the Queensland forestry sector employed 9,520 workers (0.45 per cent) of the total employed workforce in Queensland compared with 12,840 (0.63 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.
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.