About my region – North West 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 the North West region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The North West region spans the North West corner of Victoria, between the South Australian and New South Wales borders. The region comprises the ten local government areas of Ararat, Buloke, Gannawarra, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Mildura, Northern Grampians, Swan Hill, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack, part of Pyrenees, and the major regional centres of Ararat, Horsham and Mildura. The region covers a total area of around 78,100 square kilometres or 34 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 152,100 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the North West region occupies 52,300 square kilometres, or 67 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 20,000 square kilometres, or 26 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is dryland cropping, which occupies 31,000 square kilometres or 40 per cent of the North West region (ABARES 2016).

Broad land use in the North West region
Shows a map of broad land use in the 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 66,500 people were employed in the North West region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 10 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 10,800 people followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing with 8,200 people, and retail trade with 7,500 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were public administration and safety; manufacturing; and education and training. Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector represented 12 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, North West region, May 2020
northwest_empl_2020may.png
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 North West region was $4.2 billion, which was 26 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15.9 billion).

The North West region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($561 million), followed by sheep and lambs ($533 million) and Almonds ($486 million). These commodities together contributed 38 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the North West region accounted for 100 per cent ($22 million) of the total value of Victoria's mandarin production.

Value of agricultural production, North West region, 2018–19
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 2020

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2017–18 there were 4,293 farms in the North West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 22 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.

Number of farms, by industry classification, North West region, 2017–18
Industry classification North West region Victoria
Number of farms % of Region Number of farms Contribution of region to state total %
Other Grain Growing     1,455 33.9      1,986 73.2
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming     1,057 24.6      1,956 54.0
Sheep Farming (Specialised)        688 16.0      2,945 23.4
Grape Growing        388 9.0          557 69.6
Dairy Cattle Farming        197 4.6      3,547 5.5
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming           90 2.1      1,286 7.0
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)           67 1.6      4,975 1.3
Citrus Fruit Growing           64 1.5            91 70.4
Stone Fruit Growing           63 1.5          169 37.5
Nursery Production (Outdoors)           43 1.0          155 27.8
Other        181 4.2      2,072 8.8
Total agriculture     4,293 100    19,739 22

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. Other grain growing farms (1,455 farms) were the most common, accounting for 34 per cent of all farms in the North West region, and 73 per cent of all other grain growing 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 11 per cent of farms in the North West region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for 1 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2017–18. In comparison, 23 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 North West region in 2017–18.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, North West region, 2017–18
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Adelaide 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 Victoria.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15 the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the North West region was about 35,100 hectares, comprised of 26,710 hectares of hardwood plantations and 8,400 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood plantation species in Victoria are Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens). The main softwood plantation species in Victoria is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2016 there were about 1.8 million hectares of native forests in the North West region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (1.3 million hectares), Eucalypt Medium Woodland (243,900 hectares) and Other native forest (162,500 hectares). The majority of the native forests were in conservation reserves (1,360,000 hectares), while 289,800 hectares were multiple use public forest available for timber production and 174,600 hectares were privately managed.

Victoria state data

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 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: 22 July 2020
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