About my region – South-East South Australia

​​​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, fisheries, and forestry sectors in the South Australia – South East region and the recent financial performance of the South Australian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The South Australia – South East region stretches from the area adjacent to the Victorian border to Kangaroo Island in the west. The region comprises nineteen local government areas and the major regional centres of Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge, Naracoorte and Renmark. The region covers a total area of around 65,400 square kilometres or 7 per cent of South Australia's total area and is home to approximately 190,800 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the South Australia – South East region occupies 48,500 square kilometres, or 74 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 12,600 square kilometres, or 19 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 31,900 square kilometres or 49 per cent of the South Australia – South East region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the South Australia – South East region
Shows a map of broad land use in the South Australia – South East 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. Map of Australia shows that the South East region of South Australia stretches from the area adjacent to the Victorian boarder to Kangaroo Island in the west and includes the major regional centres of Keith, Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge, Naracoorte and Renmark. 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 91,200 people were employed in the South Australia – South East region. The South Australia – South East region accounts for 11 per cent of total employment in South Australia and 45 per cent of all people employed in the South Australian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 14,700 people, representing 16 per cent of the region's workforce, followed by health care and social assistance with 12,300 people, and retail trade with 10,000 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were manufacturing; construction; and education and training.

Employment profile, South Australia – South East region, November 2019
Shows the number of people employed in the South Australia 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 South Australia – South East region was $3.3 billion, which was 51 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in South Australia ($6.6 billion).

The South Australia – South East region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the South Australia – South East region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wine grapes ($383 million), followed by cattle and calves ($342 million) and wool ($290 million). These commodities together contributed 30 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2017–18 the South Australia – South East region accounted for 100 per cent of the total value ($217 million) of South Australia's oranges production.

Value of agricultural production, South Australia – South East region, 2017–18
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous three 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 4,062 farms in the South Australia – South East region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 45 per cent of all farm businesses in South Australia.

Number of farms, by industry classification, South Australia – South East region, 2017–18
Industry classification South East region South Australia
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Sheep Farming (Specialised)        766 18.9      1,273 60.1
Grape Growing        751 18.5      1,318 57.0
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming        571 14.1      1,910 29.9
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)        497 12.2          675 73.5
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming        484 11.9          578 83.7
Other Grain Growing        268 6.6      1,813 14.8
Citrus Fruit Growing        186 4.6          190 98.0
Dairy Cattle Farming        171 4.2          216 79.2
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)           81 2.0          248 32.6
Pig Farming           61 1.5          123 49.4
Other        227 5.6          667 34.0
Total agriculture     4,062 100      9,010 45.1

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. Sheep farms (766 farms) were the most common, accounting for 19 per cent of all farms in the South Australia – South East region, and 60 per cent of all sheep farms in South Australia.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 32 per cent of farms in the South Australia – South East region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 5 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 16 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 59 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the South Australia – South East region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, South Australia – South East region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the South Australia – South East 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, dairy and vegetable farms in South Australia.

Fisheries sector

The South Australia – South East region has an extensive seafood industry including wild–catch and aquaculture. King George whiting and Snapper are two primary target species of recreational, commercial and charter fishers in the region. Other popular wild–catch species include, abalone, southern rock lobster, giant crab, sardine found throughout the coast of the region with blue crabs and western king prawns found mostly in Gulf St Vincent.

Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, oysters, abalone and mussel aquaculture are produced in this region. Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout aquaculture is concentrated on the southeast coast of Cape Jaffa and Rivoli Bay, while oysters, mussel and abalone farming operating mostly around Kangaroo Island.

In 2015–16 the gross value of South Australia's fisheries production was around $517 million, an increase of 10 per cent ($48 million) from 2014–15. South Australia contributed 17 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 51 per cent ($265 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 49 per cent ($252 million).

South Australia's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by four main products—Southern rock lobster, prawns, Australian sardines and abalone —which account for 52 per cent, 17 per cent, 10 per cent and 8 per cent respectively of the total value of wild-caught production in 2014–15. Over the last decade the real value of South Australia's wild-caught fisheries products has increased by 7 per cent to $265 million (2015–16). The product for which the real value of production increased most over the past decade are wild-caught rock lobster, increasing by $34 million. A large proportion of abalone is exported, mostly to Hong Kong, China and Japan. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of abalone exports and, in turn, production. Prawns are mostly sold in the domestic market, where competition from imports has placed significant downward pressure on prices in recent years.

Most Australian sardine production is used as a high quality feed in tuna ranching operations located off Port Lincoln in South Australia. A small portion also goes toward human consumption, the recreational fishing bait market and premium brands of pet food.

In 2015–16 the value of South Australia's aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 11 per cent from $227 million in 2014–15 to $252 million in 2015–16. Southern bluefin tuna is the single most valuable species in the region and South Australia's aquaculture industry, and is ranched by the Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna fishery for fattening in sea cages at Port Lincoln. Southern bluefin tuna accounted for 50 per cent (127 million) of the value of South Australian aquaculture production, followed by oysters (12 per cent; $31 million) and abalone (6 per cent; $15 million).

Commonwealth fisheries active in waters off South Australia include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or flake to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery and the Great Australian Bight sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery harvesting mainly redfish and flathead. The Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) also operates in the waters off South Australia.

In 2014–15, South Australia's fisheries product exports were valued at $250 million. The main export products include tuna, Southern rock lobster and abalone. Japan and Vietnam are the major destinations for South Australian fisheries exports, accounting for 49 per cent and 23per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Hong Kong (13 per cent), China (3 per cent) and Singapore (2 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in South Australia with an estimated 277,027 South Australians (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to November 2013. In its survey of recreational fishers in South Australia found that most fishing effort is directed to Spencer Gulf (37 per cent), the Gulf St. Vincent and Kangaroo Island waters (28 per cent), followed by West Coast (16 per cent) and the South East waters (6 per cent). Most (87 per cent) fishing effort occurred in marine waters, including estuaries, and inshore and offshore waters. The remaining 13 per cent of effort was in freshwater activity, with the majority of this effort occurring in the River Murray. The key species caught by recreational fishers include Australian salmon, blue swimmer crab, King George whiting, mulloway, snapper, southern calamari, southern garfish, southern rock lobster and pipi.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the South Australia - South East region was 167,600 hectares, comprised of 50,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 116,700 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in South Australia are Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and other eucalyptus species (Eucalyptus nitens). The main softwood plantation species in South Australia is Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2016 there were 883,200 hectares of native forests in the South Australia - South East region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (588,700 hectares), Eucalypt Medium Woodland (111,100 hectares) and Eucalypt Mallee Open (72,600 hectares). The majority of the native forests were privately managed (491,900 hectares), while 310,400 hectares were in conservation reserves and 48,500 hectares were on leasehold land.

South Australia state data

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in South Australia was 172,200 hectares, comprised of 44,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 127,200 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2016, South Australia had 13 sawmills, 2 post and pole processors, 2 wood-based panel processors and one paper and paperboard processor.

In 2016, there were 4.8 million hectares of native forests in South Australia, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (3.7 million hectares), Casuarina (252,400 hectares) and Eucalypt Mallee Open (208,100 hectares).

In 2017–18 the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 1.1 million cubic metres valued at $88.0 million. The volume of softwood logs harvested was 3.1 million cubic metres valued at $245.7 million. There is no native hardwood harvesting in South Australia.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in South Australia was $1.2 billion. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.

In 2016 the South Australia forestry sector employed 5,520 workers (0.74 per cent) of the total employed workforce in South Australia compared with 6,500 (0.88 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: 22 January 2020
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