About my region – Victoria

​​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 Victoria and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.

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​Regional overview

Victoria covers a total area of around 226,900 square kilometres and is home to approximately 6,321,600 people (ABS 2018). Agricultural land in Victoria occupies 128,000 square kilometres, or around 56 per cent of the state. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 49,100 square kilometres, or 22 per cent of the state (refer to land use map below). The most common land use by area is grazing of modified pasture, which occupies 72,500 square kilometres or 32 per cent of the state (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in Victoria
Shows a map of broad land use in the Victoria. 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 3.4 million people were employed in the state of Victoria.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 435,700 people, followed by retail trade with 349,800 people, and professional, scientific and technical services with 333,300 people. Other important employment sectors in the state were construction; education and training; and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 79,000 people, representing 2 per cent of the state's workforce.

Employment profile, Victoria, November 2019
Shows the number of people employed in the Victoria 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 Victoria was $15 billion, which was 25 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia ($59 billion).

The most important commodities in Victoria based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($2.6 billion), followed by cattle and calves ($2 billion) and sheep and lambs ($1.8 billion). These commodities together contributed 43 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the state.

Value of agricultural production, Victoria, 2017–​18
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the 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 19,739 farms in Victoria with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The state contains 25 per cent of all farm businesses in Australia.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Victoria, 2017–18
Industry classification Victoria Australia
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of Vic to Australian total %
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)        4,975 25        21,919 23
Dairy Cattle Farming        3,547 18          5,384 66
Sheep Farming (Specialised)        2,945 15          8,443 35
Other Grain Growing        1,986 10          9,030 22
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming        1,956 10          9,991 20
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming        1,286 7          5,221 25
Grape Growing           557 3          2,561 22
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)           443 2          2,545 17
Horse Farming           382 2          1,477 26
Stone Fruit Growing           169 1              446 38
Apple and Pear Growing           159 1              404 39
Nursery Production (Outdoors)           155 1              365 42
Poultry Farming (Meat)           149 1              558 27
Other Crop Growing nec           120 1              563 21
Pig Farming           100 1              429 23
Other           810 4          9,688 8
Total agriculture     19,739 100        79,021 25

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 (4,975 farms) were the most common, accounting for 25 per cent of all farms in Victoria.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 24 per cent of farms in Victoria 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, 16 per cent of farms in the state had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 54 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in Victoria in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Victoria, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Victoria. 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 Victoria.

Fisheries sector

In 2015–16 the gross value of Victoria's fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild–catch) was $86 million, a decrease of 3 per cent ($2.4 million) from 2014–15. Victoria contributed 3 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2015–16. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 68 per cent ($57.8 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 32 per cent ($27.6 million).

Victoria's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products—abalone and Southern rock lobster—which account for 34 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2015–16. Over the last decade the real value of Victoria's wild-caught fisheries products has reduced by 42 per cent to $57.8 million in 2015–16.

The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is wild—caught abalone, falling by 70 per cent to $19.7 million in 2015–16. This is largely attributable to the Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis disease which has significantly reduced abalone production in the Victorian wild–catch sector in recent years. 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.

Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off Victoria include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or 'flake' to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) and the Southern Squid Jig Fishery also operate in the waters off Victoria.

In 2015–16 the volume of Victoria's aquaculture production was 2,670 tonnes. Salmonids, blue mussels and abalone accounted for 50 per cent, 29 per cent and 12 per cent respectively of this volume and 40 per cent, 12 per cent and 40 per cent respectively of the total value of Victorian aquaculture production in 2015–16.

In 2015–16, fisheries products exported from Victoria were valued at $193 million. This value includes State and Commonwealth fisheries products exported from the ports of Victoria, which may be sourced from Victorian waters or other parts of the country. The main export products include abalone and Southern rock lobster. Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore are the major destinations for Victorian fisheries exports, accounting for 53 per cent, 14 per cent and 7 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015–16, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (6 per cent) and China (4 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in Victoria. In the national survey of recreational fishers undertaken in the early 2000s it was found that Victoria had approximately 550,000 recreational fishers that fished in the 12 months to May 2000, an estimated 12.7 per cent of Victoria's population (Henry & Lyle 2003). This includes gamefishing for species such as southern bluefin tuna (Green et al 2012). Recreational fishing also includes diving for Southern rock lobster, abalone, and scallops and hook and line fishing for a range of finfish species, such as snapper, King George whiting, black bream and flathead. Freshwater anglers target rainbow and brown trout, as well as native freshwater fish.

Forestry sector

In 2017–18, the total plantation area in Victoria was 420,600 hectares, comprised of 196,300 hectares of hardwood plantations and 223,400 hectares of softwood plantations.

In 2016, Victoria had 34 sawmills (including 9 softwood sawmills), 8 post and pole processors, 3 wood based panel processors and 5 paper and paperboard processors.

In 2016, there were 7.6 million hectares of native forests in Victoria, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (3.1 million hectares), Eucalypt Tall Open (1.4 million hectares) and Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (1.3 million hectares).

In 2017–18, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 1.2 million cubic metres, valued at $103.5 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 3.6 million cubic metres, valued at $262.3 million. The volume of plantation softwood logs harvested in Victoria was 4.3 million cubic metres, valued at $341.5 million.

In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Victoria was $3.6 billion.  Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.

In 2016, the Victoria forestry sector employed 15,105 workers (0.60 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 20,167 (0.74 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.

Green, C, Brown, P, Giri K, Bell, J & Conron, S 2012, Quantifying the recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna off the Victorian coast, Recreational Fishing Grants Program research report R09/10/03, Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne, Victoria.

Henry, GW & Lyle JM (eds) 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Final report to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, NSW Fisheries final report series, no. 48, FRDC project no. 99/158, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.

Last reviewed: 21 January 2020
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