Beef farms

Industry overview

The beef cattle industry makes an important contribution to the Australian economy. In 2017–18, it accounted for around 20 per cent ($12.3 billion) of the total gross value of farm production (ABS 2019b) and around 19  per cent of the total value of farm export income.

Around 49 per cent of all Australian farms carry beef cattle (ABS 2019a), making this the most common and widely dispersed agricultural activity in Australia. Beef cattle farms are an important part of the rural economy in almost all regions of Australia. Farms running beef cattle manage more than 79 per cent of the total area of agricultural land in Australia.

The results below are for farms included in the Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries (AAGIS) survey that had at least 100  head of beef cattle on hand at 30  June. Farm businesses with fewer than 100  head of cattle represent just 2 per cent of the national beef herd and contribute around 4 per cent to the total value of beef cattle sales.

The AAGIS is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation. MLA commissioned and funded the analysis of beef industry farm performance. Data are provided at national and regional scales, with regions based on those used by MLA—the Northern and Southern regions.

MLA beef regions

Note: Northern Australia is defined as Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn.
The map excludes areas of Nature conservation, Managed resource protection, Production native forests and Plantation forests based on the Land use of Australia 2010-11.

Key drivers of farm income


Farm financial performance

  • Average farm cash income of Australian beef farms increased by an estimated 5 per cent in 2017–18 to around $190,900 per farm. Increased cattle sales in 2017–18 contributed to strong increases in cash receipts of Australian beef-producing farms despite slightly lower beef cattle prices.
  • In 2018–19, average farm cash income is projected to decrease by 20 per cent because of lower beef cattle prices resulting from continuing high turn-off and increased competition in export markets.
  • Average farm cash income of beef farms in 2018–19 is projected to be the fifth highest since 1989–90 in real terms.

Detailed farm financial performance findings

Frederick Litchfield, James Frilay and Dale Ashton

Farm cash income and profit

Average farm cash income of Australian beef farms increased by an estimated 5 per cent in 2017–18 to around $190,900 per farm (Table 1). Total cash receipts rose as a result of increased cattle sales despite slightly lower prices per head. Increased receipts were partly offset by an increase in total cash costs.

In 2018–19, average farm cash income is projected to decrease by 20 per cent because of a decline in total cash receipts (Figure 1). Total cash receipts are projected to decline because of lower beef cattle prices resulting from continuing high turn off and increased competition in export markets.

Table 1 Farm financial performance, beef farms, 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
Performance measure Unit 2016–17 2017–18p 2018–19y
Australia
Total cash receipts $ 502,400 565,000 521,000
Total cash costs $ 320,500 374,100 369,000
Farm cash income $ 181,900 190,900 152,000
Farm business profit $ 113,580 70,700 16,000
Rate of return a % 2.7 1.7 0.8
Northern region
Total cash receipts $ 659,900 679,100 619,000
Total cash costs $ 410,390 454,300 433,000
Farm cash income $ 249,510 224,800 186,000
Farm business profit $ 156,550 114,000 35,000
Rate of return a % 2.9 2.0 1.1
Southern region
Total cash receipts $ 433,960 510,600 462,000
Total cash costs $ 281,440 335,800 330,000
Farm cash income $ 152,530 174,800 132,000
Farm business profit $ 94,910 50,000 5,000
Rate of return a % 2.6 1.5 0.6

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. a Excluding capital appreciation.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey



Farm cash income in 2018–19 is projected to be 85 per cent higher than the median since 1989–90 in real terms. Despite drought conditions in parts of the Northern and Southern regions, farm cash income in 2018–19 is projected to be in the best 25 per cent of years (Figure 2).


Farm business profit is a measure of long-term profitability. It accounts for capital depreciation, payments for family labour and changes in inventories of livestock, fodder and grain held on farms.

In 2018–19, farm business profit is projected to decrease by 77 per cent as a result of a fall in prices for beef cattle, a rundown in the number of cattle on hand and consequent reductions in the value of livestock held per farm. Farm business profit of beef farms is projected to average $16,000 per farm in 2018–19.

Over the 10 years to 2017–18, the proportion of beef farms recording negative farm business profit averaged around 59 per cent a year (Figure 3). In 2017–18, around 50 per cent of beef farms recorded a negative farm business profit. This proportion is projected to increase to around 60 per cent in 2018–19.

Negative farm business profit means a farm has not covered the costs of unpaid family labour or set aside funds to replace depreciating farm assets. Many farms occasionally record negative farm business profit when their income fluctuates. However, ongoing low or negative profit affects long-term viability because farms have reduced capacity to invest in newer and more efficient technologies.

Since 1989–90, the proportion of beef farms recording negative farm business profit was less than 50 per cent in only 2015–16 and 2016–17. On average 14 per cent of beef farms recording negative farm business profit in any given year from 2000–01 to 2017–18 have recorded a positive profit in the following year.


Total cash receipts

In 2017–18, average total cash receipts for beef farms increased by 12 per cent to around $565,000 per farm as a result of increased cash receipts for beef cattle, wool, sheep and lambs (Table 1). In 2017–18, beef cattle accounted for around 59 per cent of total cash receipts, followed by crops (around 13 per cent) and wool and sheep (each less than 10 per cent).

In 2018–19, total cash receipts are projected to decrease by around 8 per cent to $521,000 per farm as a result of lower beef cattle prices and decreased receipts from crops. Receipts from wool and sheep are projected to remain relatively unchanged because of high prices, despite reduced production. Beef cattle turn-off is projected to increase in 2018–19 as a result of continuing dry conditions in many areas. Increased turn-off will partly offset the decline in cash receipts from lower cattle prices.

Total cash costs

In 2017–18, average total cash costs of Australian beef farms increased by 17 per cent to around $374,100 per farm, mainly as a result of increased expenditure on fodder, livestock purchases and hired labour (Table 1). In 2018–19, average total cash costs are projected to fall slightly by around 1 per cent despite a projected increase in spending on fodder.

Performance by region and herd size

The financial performance of beef farms in 2018–19 varies between regions reflecting differences in exposure to drought (Figure 4). For the Northern region, when 2018–19 is compared to 2017–18 there has been a slight deterioration in seasonal conditions, reflected in the increasing proportion of farms reporting drought or below average seasonal conditions. In the Southern region, reported seasonal conditions have deteriorated compared to 2017–18, with 81 per cent of beef farms reporting below average or drought conditions in 2018–19.


Average farm cash income varies significantly between the Northern and Southern regions and by scale of operations. In 2017–18, average farm cash income decreased by 10 per cent in the Northern region to $224,800 per farm, but increased by 15 per cent in the Southern region to $174,800 per farm (Figure 5).

In the Northern region, farm cash income is projected to decrease by 17 per cent to $186,000 per farm in 2018–19. In real terms, farm cash income in the region is estimated to have averaged around $141,000 per farm from 2000–01 to 2017–18. Despite the projected fall in incomes in 2018–19 average farm cash income is expected to be the fifth highest since 1989–90.

In the Southern region, farm cash income is projected to fall by 24 per cent in 2018–19 to an average of $132,000 per farm. In real terms, average farm cash income in the region is estimated to have been around $101,000 per farm from 2000–01 to 2017–18. The lowest recorded average farm cash income over the 18 years to 2017–18 was in 2006–07 because of extended drought conditions.


Farm cash income of beef farms across all size groups–except large beef farms (1,600 to 5,400 head)—increased in 2017–18. Despite higher farm cash incomes, farm business profit is estimated to have declined for all size groups in 2017–18 (Table 2). This is because of a rundown in the number of beef cattle on hand during the year as dry seasonal conditions began to impact many beef farms.

In 2018–19, farm cash income is projected to decrease for all size groups, except for large beef farms where it is projected to increase slightly. Despite the year-on-year changes, average farm cash income for all size groups is significantly higher than the average since 2000–01 in real terms.

On average, farm cash income of very large beef farms (more than 5,400 head) increased by around 10 per cent in 2017–18, mainly as a result of increased cash receipts from sales of beef cattle, but is projected to decrease by 13 per cent in 2018–19 (Figure 6). Income of large beef farms (1,600 to 5,400 head) fell by around 25 per cent in 2017–18, mainly as a result of lower beef cattle receipts, but is projected to increase by around 6 per cent in 2018–19. Farm cash income of medium beef farms (400 to 1,600 head) remained relatively stable in 2017–18, but is projected to decrease by around 29 per cent in 2018–19 mainly as a result of higher total cash costs. Farm cash income of small beef farms increased by 13 per cent in 2017–18, as a result of increased receipts from sheep and wool, but is projected to fall by around 19 per cent in 2018–19 mainly because of lower cropping receipts.

Table 2 Farm financial performance, beef farms, by herd size, 2016–17 to 2018–19
average per farm
Performance measure Unit 2016–17 2017–18p 2018–19y
Small
(100 to 400 head)
Farm cash income $ 90,000 101,500 82,000
Farm business profit $ 22,880 –8,400 –39,000
Rate of return a % 1.2 0.3 –0.5
Medium
(400 to 1,600 head)
Farm cash income $ 208,690 211,600 151,000
Farm business profit $ 137,160 70,500 13,000
Rate of return a % 3.0 1.7 0.8
Large
(1,600 to 5,400 head)
Farm cash income $ 546,000 407,900 431,000
Farm business profit $ 404,340 328,000 205,000
Rate of return a % 3.7 2.8 1.8
Very large
(more than 5,400 head)
Farm cash income $ 1,680,580 1,852,700 1,611,000
Farm business profit $ 1,970,210 1,590,200 1,359,000
Rate of return a % 5.6 4.1 3.4

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. a Excluding capital appreciation.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey


Total cash receipts

In the Northern region, total cash receipts increased by around 3 per cent to $679,100 per farm in 2017–18. In the Southern region, total cash receipts increased by around 18 per cent to an estimated $510,600 per farm in 2017–18. In 2018–19, total cash receipts are projected to fall by around 9 per cent in the Northern region and around 10 per cent in the Southern region.

Both regions differ in their mix of beef cattle and other enterprises. In the Northern region, beef cattle receipts accounted for an average of 73 per cent of total receipts from 2000–01 to 2018–19. In the Southern region, beef cattle receipts accounted for an average of 45 per cent of total receipts from 2000–01 to 2018–19 (Figure 7).

In 2018–19, receipts for beef cattle and crops are projected to fall in both regions because of lower cattle prices and as drought impacts many farms (Figure 8). However, receipts from sheep and wool are projected to increase slightly because of strong prices and will provide some support to cash incomes.




Total cash costs

From 2000–01 to 2018–19 cattle purchases, interest paid, and repairs and maintenance accounted for the largest share of total cash costs in both the Northern and Southern regions (Figure 9). The major difference in average cost structure between the two regions is greater expenditure on fodder in the Northern region and greater expenditure on fertiliser in the Southern region.

In the Northern region, total cash costs rose by 11 per cent in 2017–18 and are projected to fall by around 5 per cent in 2018–19. In the Southern region, total cash costs rose by 19 per cent in 2017–18 and are projected to fall by around 2 per cent in 2018–19, despite increased expenditure on fodder and freight. Total average expenditure on crop and pasture chemicals, seed and fertiliser is projected to decrease slightly, as a result of ongoing drought conditions in parts of the Southern region.


Rate of return

The average rate of return (excluding capital appreciation) of Australian beef farms fell from 2.7 per cent in 2016–17 to 1.7 per cent in 2017–18 (Figure 10). The average rate of return is projected to decline to 0.8 per cent in 2018–19 as incomes fall because of lower beef prices and reduced crop production.


The performance of beef farms varied widely in 2017–18 and 2018–19 (Figure 11). In 2017–18, around 68 per cent of beef farms recorded a rate of return (excluding capital appreciation) greater than zero. Around 14 per cent of beef farms recorded rates of return greater than 5 per cent.

In 2018–19, 56 per cent of beef farms are projected to have a rate of return greater than zero. Around 10 per cent of beef farms are expected to have rates of return greater than 5 per cent. On average, larger beef farms had higher rates of return than smaller beef farms.


Variation in rate of return

The long-term performance of farm businesses is determined by the level and variability of profits. Variations in the rate of return reflect changes over time in average seasonal conditions, commodity prices and the cost of farm inputs recorded in each region. Individual farms are likely to have experienced different variations in the rate of return over the period. These are a result of farm-specific factors such as seasonal conditions, prices received, enterprise mix and the skills of the manager.

Beef producers in the Northern region have generally performed better than their counterparts in the Southern region, recording higher average rates of return with similar volatility in the averages (Figure 12).

The projected rate of return in 2018–19 for both regions is within the middle 50 per cent of years.


Farm debt and equity

  • Average farm debt of Australian beef farms increased by around 16 per cent to $629,700 in 2017–18 (in real terms) and is projected to increase by a further 11 per cent in 2018–19.
  • The average equity ratio of beef farms remained steady at around 90 per cent from 2000–01 to 2017–18.

Detailed debt and equity findings

Frederick Litchfield, James Frilay and Dale Ashton

Trends in average debt per farm

Debt is an important source of funds for farm investment and ongoing working capital for many beef farms. At the national level, from 2000–01 to 2009–10 average debt of beef farms at 30 June rose significantly in real terms before falling in the years to 2014–15 (Figure 13). From 2016–17 to 2017–18 average debt per farm increased by around 16 per cent to $629,700, in real terms. This can largely be attributed to increased debt due to land purchases. Average debt of beef farms is projected to increase again in 2018–19 to an estimated $699,000 per farm.


In ABARES farm surveys, debt is recorded by its main purpose. However, because some loans cover a range of purposes, estimates of debt by main purpose provide a guide only.

Over the 3 years to 2017–18, land purchases accounted for the largest proportion of total farm debt, at 51 per cent on average (Figure 14). A further 30 per cent of debt was for working capital. The remaining debt was for a range of purposes such as vehicles, machinery, buildings and structures.


Equity ratio

Changes in average debt per farm over the medium to longer term were largely matched by changes in total farm capital. As a consequence, the average equity ratio of beef farms at the national level remained steady from 2000–01 to 2017–18 at around 90 per cent.

An estimated 73 per cent of beef farms had an equity ratio greater than 90 per cent in 2017–18 (Table 3). On average, these farms were relatively small and most were in the Southern region. They focused primarily on beef cattle production, receiving a relatively high proportion of total cash receipts from sales of beef cattle. Those farms with an equity ratio of less than 70 per cent make up 5 per cent of all beef farms. These farms are relatively large and more diversified than the higher-equity farms.

Table 3 Farm performance, by equity ratio, beef farms, Australia, 2017–18
average per farm
Measure Equity ratio
Units More than 90% 70% to 90% Less than 70%
Proportion of farms % 73 21 5
Total area operated ha 5,645 11,566 13,205
Total cash receipts $ 341,600 800,200 1,180,900
Beef receipts as a proportion of total receipts % 69 50 50
Total cash costs $ 200,700 556,800 988,600
Farm cash income $ 141,000 243,400 192,400
Northern region proportion of farms % 65 27 8
Southern region proportion of farms % 77 19 4

Note: Based on preliminary estimates. Row and column totals may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Debt-servicing capacity

The long-term viability of a farm is affected by its capacity to service debt. The servicing of debt consists of making interest payments and paying down the principal. The proportion of farm receipts spent on interest payments is a useful indicator of short-term capacity to service debt. National short and long term interest rate data is available in the following table Australian main macroeconomic indicators.

The proportion of farm receipts needed to fund interest payments was around 6 per cent in 2017–18, below the 10–year average to 2016–17 of 9 per cent (Figure 15). In 2018–19, interest paid is projected to be around 7 per cent of total cash receipts.


At the national level, around 32 per cent of beef farms reduced their total debt in 2017–18 (Figure 16). An estimated 27 per cent of beef farms increased debt, and around 3 per cent of beef farms had no change in debt. The remaining 37 per cent of beef farms had no debt at 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018.

Around 40 per cent of beef farms in the Northern region reduced their total debt in 2017–18, while 26 per cent increased debt. In the Southern region, 29 per cent of farms reduced debt and around 28 per cent of farms increased their total debt in 2017–18.


Nationally, there was no significant difference in the size of farms reducing debt compared with those that increased debt (Table 4). However, cash incomes were around 51 per cent higher for those reducing debt.

Table 4 Farm performance, by change in debt, beef farms, Australia, 2017–18
average per farm
Unit Reducing debt Increasing debt
Proportion of farms % 32 27
Total area operated ha 9,700 9,300
Beef receipts as a proportion of total receipts % 57 55
Total cash receipts $ 664,500 613,200
Total cash costs $ 420,700 451,500
Farm cash income $ 243,900 161,800
Equity ratio % 89 84

Note: Based on preliminary estimates.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Debt and equity, by region

Debt and equity of beef farms varied significantly by region and scale of cattle production. Beef farms in the Northern region had higher average debt and lower farm equity ratios than those in the Southern region, mainly because the Northern region had a higher proportion of large farms. Despite differences in average debt per farm, from 2000–01 to 2018–19 trends in farm debt were similar in both regions (Figure 17).

From 2000–01 to 2017–18, the average equity ratio of beef farms was similar in both regions at around 90 per cent.


Debt and equity, by size

Large farms tend to have lower equity ratios than smaller farms. This is because larger farms usually have higher turnover and are better able to service debt. Larger beef farms also often have access to non-farm equity, whereas smaller farms are mostly family-owned businesses that rely heavily on the farmer’s own capital.

From 2000–01 to 2017–18, the average debt of all size groups generally trended upwards. In 2017–18, the average debt of large (1,600 to 5,400 head) and very large (more than 5,400 head) beef farms decreased slightly (Table 5). The average debt of small (100 to 400 head) and medium (400 to 1,600 head) beef farms increased by 36 per cent and 13 per cent in 2017–18, respectively.

From 2000–01 to 2015–16, equity ratios for very large beef farms declined from 88 per cent to 79 per cent, while equity ratios for other size groups remained steady. From 2015–16 to 2017–18 however, equity ratios of very large beef farms increased back to 86 per cent. This increase in equity ratios is the result of high turn-off causing some farms to change size categories.

Table 5 Equity ratio and total farm debt, beef farms, by size, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Size Equity ratio (%) Farm debt at 30 June ($)
2015–16 2016–17 2017–18p 2015–16 2016–17 2017–18p
Small (100 to 400 head) 92 92 91 220,510 241,920 330,000
Medium (400 to 1,600 head) 89 89 89 634,370 658,690 746,500
Large (1,600 to 5,400 head) 89 86 88 1,389,870 1,919,960 1,851,400
Very large (more than 5,400 head) 79 81 86 5,260,230 5,462,850 5,062,000

p Preliminary estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Distribution of farms, by debt and equity

From 2000–01 to 2018–19, small and medium beef farms accounted for most of the change in national average beef farm debt. Combined, these farms accounted for a projected 71 per cent of total beef farm debt in 2017–18.

Table 6 shows the distribution of beef farms by debt and equity ratio at 30 June 2018. An estimated 42 per cent of beef farms held no debt at 30 June 2018. A further 12 per cent of farms held less than $100,000 in debt. An estimated 15 per cent of farms had debt in excess of $1 million.

Table 6 Distribution of farms, by farm business debt and equity ratio, beef farms, Australia, 30 June 2018
Equity ratio No debt Less than $100,000 $100,000 to less than $250,000 $250,000 to less than $500,000 $500,000 to less than $1m $1m to less than $2m More than $2m Total
Greater than or equal to 90% 42 12 9 5 4 1 0 73
80% to less than 90% 0 0 1 3 4 2 2 13
70% to less than 80% 0 0 0 2 2 2 3 8
60% to less than 70% 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3
Less than 60% 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2
Total 42 12 10 10 10 7 8 100

Note: Based on preliminary estimates. Row and column totals may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Farm capital and investment

  • The total value of capital for Australian beef farms increased by around 60 per cent in real terms from 2000–01 to 2017–18, although the number of beef farms declined.
  • On average, 53 per cent of beef farms each year made additions to their total capital over the 10 years to 2017–18.

Detailed farm capital and investment findings

Frederick Litchfield, James Frilay and Dale Ashton

Total farm capital

Investment in farm capital is important for the ongoing development of the Australian beef industry. Investments in land, fixed improvements, and plant and equipment are key drivers of beef farmers’ capacity to generate farm outputs.

The total value of capital of Australian beef farms was around 60 per cent higher in 2017–18 than in 2000–01 in real terms (Figure 18). On a per farm basis, total capital increased by 135 per cent to an estimated $7 million per farm in 2017–18, largely because of increasing average farm sizes and appreciation in land values.

The Northern region accounted for 40 per cent of total beef farm capital in 2017–18, with the Southern region accounting for the remaining 60 per cent of capital. The Northern region has larger area operated and higher capital per farm than the Southern region, but the Southern region has more farms and therefore greater aggregate capital.


Land accounted for an average of 79 per cent of total capital per farm in 2017–18 (Figure 19). Livestock accounted for a further 16 per cent of total capital, and plant and equipment accounted for 5 per cent.


Return on land

ABARES uses two rates of return to farm capital—rate of return excluding capital appreciation and rate of return including capital appreciation. Rate of return is defined as farm profit at full equity expressed as a percentage of total capital. Because land is the largest component of total farm capital, it plays a key role in determining total farm returns.

Figure 20 shows the average value of land and fixed improvements per hectare. From 1990–91 to 1999–2000, the value of land remained relatively constant. Stronger demand for farm land led to sharp increases in land values from 2000–01 to 2006–07, with an average annual return from land appreciation of 12.6 per cent per year. Land values declined from 2006–07 to 2014–15, before rising in subsequent years to 2017–18.


New farm investment

Most farmers make new investments each year to add to the existing capital stock or to replace capital items that have reached the end of their useful life. Farm investments are usually made with longer-term outcomes in mind and based on expected returns over the life of the investment.

On average, 53 per cent of beef farms each year made additions to their total capital over the 10 years to 2017–18 (Figure 21). The amount invested each year by those making capital additions fluctuated broadly in line with movements in farm cash incomes. In 2017–18, an estimated 62 per cent of beef farms made capital additions.


Figure 22 shows the proportion of beef farms that made capital additions in 2017–18 and the average capital addition in three categories—land purchases, plant and equipment, and buildings and structures. Land is the biggest component of capital additions, although only 7 per cent of beef farms bought land in 2017–18. Average expenditure on land for those making purchases was around $1.1 million per farm.

Around 59 per cent of all beef farms made additions to plant and equipment in 2017–18, at an average of around $70,000 per farm. Around 10 per cent of beef farms made additions to buildings and structures, at an average of around $64,000 per farm.


Farm management deposits

ABARES farm surveys record the total holdings of farm management deposits (FMDs) held by partners in the farm business (individuals sharing the farm business’s profits) at 1 July and 30 June. The proportion of beef farms holding FMDs averaged around 19 per cent from 2007–08 to 2014–15 before increasing to around 26 per cent in 2017–18 (Figure 23). The value of FMD holdings per farm also trended upwards from 2007–08 to 2017–18. In 2017–18, the average value of FMDs held was around $252,000 per farm.

In 2017–18, an estimated 26 per cent of beef farms in the Northern region held FMDs at 30 June, at an average value of $336,000 per farm. Around 25 per cent of beef farms in the Southern region held FMDs in 2017–18, at an average value of around $211,000 per farm.

Beef farms holding FMDs in 2017–18 recorded superior financial performance on average, including higher farm cash incomes, rates of return and equity ratios than beef farms that did not hold FMDs (Table 7).


Table 7 Farm performance by FMD holdings, beef farms, Australia, 2017–18
average per farm
  Unit FMDs held at 30 June No FMDs held at 30 June
Proportion of farms % 26 74
Farm cash income $ 279,400 160,600
Rate of return a % 2.4 1.4
Equity ratio % 82 67
Total farm capital $ 7,709,700 6,187,400
Proportion of farms by region
Northern % 26 74
Southern % 25 75

a Excluding capital appreciation.
Note: Based on preliminary estimates.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Physical characteristics

  • From 2000–01 to 2017–18, the total number of Australian beef farms fell by around 20 per cent. The Southern region accounted for 83 per cent of the decline.
  • In 2017–18, the Southern region’s share of the Australian beef herd was 36 per cent, with the Northern region accounting for 64 per cent.

Detailed physical characteristics findings

Frederick Litchfield, James Frilay and Dale Ashton

In 2017–18, an estimated 22,800 Australian farms had at least 100 head of beef cattle at 30 June. Around 68 per cent of these farms were in the Southern region and the remaining 32 per cent were in the Northern region.

Climate, pastures, industry infrastructure and proximity to markets differ markedly between the Northern and Southern regions and within each region. These factors have affected the development and nature of the beef industry and associated farm businesses in each region.

From 1989–90 to 2017–18, the total size of the Australian beef herd (excluding feedlots and dairy farms) fluctuated from 19 million to 23 million head. The Northern region’s share trended upwards slightly from the mid-1990s and the Southern region’s share trended downwards (Figure 24). In 2017–18, the Southern region’s share of the Australian beef herd was 36 per cent, with the Northern region accounting for 64 per cent.


From 2000–01 to 2017–18, the total number of Australian beef farms fell by around 20 per cent. The Southern region accounted for 83 per cent of the decline, with most of these being small farms carrying less than 400 head of cattle (Figure 25).


In the Southern region, the number of beef farms classified as small (100 to 400 head) declined from around 12,900 farms in 1989–90 to 10,500 farms in 2017–18 (Figure 26). The number of medium (400 to 1,600 head) beef farms remained relatively steady, while there was a small increase in the number of large (1,600 to 5,400 head) farms.

In the Northern region, the number of small and medium-sized beef farms declined, while there was a small increase in the number of very large (more than 5,400 head) farms.

Large and very large beef farms accounted for a combined 57 per cent of the national beef herd in 2017–18 (Table 8).


Table 8 Proportions of farms and cattle, by herd size, Australia, 2017–18
Farm size Number of farms (no.) Share of farms (%) Share of beef cattle (%) Share of area operated (%)
Small (100 to 400 head) 13,200 58 15 9
Medium (400 to 1,600 head) 7,300 32 28 17
Large (1,600 to 5,400 head) 1,800 8 26 21
Very large (More than 5,400 head) 400 2 31 53
Total 22,800 100 100 100

Note: Based on preliminary estimates.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Enterprise mix

Figure 27 shows estimates of the resources used by all beef farms expressed as sheep equivalents. Sheep equivalents are estimated by converting the number of sheep, beef cattle and area cropped to an equivalent measure that reflects the relative total use of resources by each enterprise.

In the Southern region, the total sheep equivalents used by beef farms declined by 19 per cent from 1989–90 to 2017–18. Sheep enterprises on beef farms declined by 58 per cent over the period. In 2017–18, beef cattle accounted for around half of total sheep equivalents in the Southern region, cropping accounted for 33 per cent and sheep 17 per cent.

In the Northern region, total sheep equivalents used by beef farms trended downwards slightly from 1989–90 to 2017–18, despite beef cattle resources increasing by 12 per cent over the period. This can be attributed to declining cropping and sheep enterprises on beef farms in the Northern region, with these resources only accounting for a combined 9 per cent of total sheep equivalents in 2017–18.


Stocking rates

Figure 28 shows the average number of beef cattle carried per hectare operated in each year. Annual changes in stocking rates largely reflect variations in seasonal conditions, pasture availability and beef prices. Despite these annual variations, many beef farms increased their stocking rates from 1989–90 to 2017–18. Falls in stocking rates in 2016–17 and 2017–18 reflect increased sales in response to higher cattle prices and the onset of dry seasonal conditions in some regions.


Cost of production

  • In 2017–18, the total on-farm cost of beef production is estimated to have averaged 197 cents per kilogram live weight in the Northern region and 233 cents in the Southern region.
  • There is estimated to have been little change in the cost of beef production in both the Northern and Southern regions between 2016–17 and 2017–18.
  • Higher prices for beef cattle resulted in an increase in operating margins in the Southern region in 2016–17.
  • Reduced prices received for beef cattle sold in 2017–18 resulted in a decline in operating margins in both the Northern and Southern regions.
  • Total on-farm production costs per kilogram decline in both the Southern and Northern regions as herd size increases.
  • Small beef farms (with less than 400 beef cattle) generally covered their cash operating costs, finance costs and depreciation. However, most did not cover the value of unpaid owner–manager, partner and family labour, over the three years to 2017–18.

Detailed cost of production findings

Peter Martin

Cost of beef production

Higher prices for beef cattle in 2015–16 led to increased cashflow. In response, producers in both the Northern and Southern regions increased expenditure on farm inputs. In particular, large increases were recorded in expenditure on repairs and maintenance, hired labour and contracts.

In 2016–17, there was a small decrease in the total on-farm per kilogram live weight cost of beef production in the Southern region and a slightly larger reduction in the Northern region. These changes reflected reduced expenditure on fodder and hired labour from high expenditure in 2015–16, together with a small reduction in total labour input.

In 2017–18, little change was recorded in the average per kilogram live weight cost of beef production in both the Northern and Southern region (Table 9). In the Southern region expenditure on fodder increased (by 10 cents per kg live weight) as a result of the onset of dry seasonal conditions in some regions and higher fodder prices. However, averaged across all Southern region beef farms, this increase was mostly offset by reduced expenditure on repairs and maintenance, fertiliser, interest payments and slightly reduced labour input compared to 2016–17. In the Northern region, expenditure on fodder also increased but by less than in the Southern region and expenditure on purchases of beef cattle increased. These increases in the Northern region were offset by a reduction in expenditure on repairs and maintenance and depreciation from high expenditure in 2015–16 and 2016–17, together with a small reduction in total labour input (Figure 29).

Table 9 Per kilogram live weight cost of beef production and operating margins for beef cattle–producing farms, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Production and price unit Southern region Northern region
2015-16 2016-17 2017-18p 2015-16 2016-17p 2017-18p
Total live weight of cattle produced tonnes 78 (5) 79 (7) 86 (7) 182 (5) 210 (6) 226 (5)
Average price received c/kg 266 (2) 294 (3) 253 (2) 274 (3) 268 (2) 244 (2)
Production costs
Total cash costs excluding finance costs c/kg 151 (3) 151 (5) 159 (4) 143 (4) 138 (4) 138 (3)
Total cash costs including finance costs c/kg 163 (3) 163 (5) 170 (4) 160 (4) 152 (4) 152 (3)
Total cash, finance and depreciation costs c/kg 185 (3) 183 (5) 190 (4) 180 (4) 171 (4) 170 (3)
Total costs (all cash costs, finance, depreciation and the value of unpaid labour) c/kg 231 (3) 229 (5) 233 (3) 213 (3) 199 (4) 197 (3)
Operating margin over
Cash costs c/kg 115 (5) 143 (5) 95 (6) 130 (7) 130 (6) 106 115
Cash and finance costs c/kg 104 (5) 131 (6) 84 (7) 114 (8) 116 (6) 93 104
Cash, finance and depreciation costs c/kg 81 (7) 111 (7) 63 (10) 94 (10) 97 (8) 75 81
All costs including unpaid labour costs c/kg 35 (19) 66 (15) 20 (37) 60 (16) 69 (11) 47 35

Note: Figures in parentheses are standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest whole number and are presented in 2018–19 dollars. Cash costs include all expenditure on materials, interest, rent, services and labour such as fodder, rates, irrigation water, fuel, fertiliser, accountancy, electricity, veterinary chemicals and repairs incurred in the production of farm income. Cash costs do not include expenditure on items of farm capital such as purchase of vehicles, machinery, land, structures or improvements or value of labour and other inputs where no direct cash expenditure is made.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Surveyy

Box 1 Calculation of the per kilogram live weight cost of beef production

The Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey of Australian broadacre farms collects detailed financial, physical and production data. ABARES included additional questions in the 2007–08, 2008–09 and 2012–13 to 2017–18 surveys so it could calculate the per kilogram live weight cost of beef cattle and sheep production. These additional questions covered the live weight of cattle, calves, sheep and lambs sold or transferred off-farm and the proportion of key variable costs attributable to beef, sheep and cropping enterprises on mixed enterprise farms. Key variable costs included crop and pasture chemicals, fertiliser, fodder, fuel, repairs and maintenance, contracts paid, veterinary and livestock materials, and hired and family labour.

Fixed (overhead) costs such as accountancy, telephone, insurance and capital depreciation were attributed to enterprises on the basis of their share of total farm cash receipts.

ABARES calculated total live weight of beef production as the total live weight sold and transferred off-farm, adjusting for changes in total live weight of the herd at the beginning and end of each financial year. Total live weight of the herd at the beginning and end of each financial year was calculated by applying average live weights to the categories of cattle on hand (calves, heifers, cows, bulls and steers) at the beginning and end of each financial year.

Per kilogram live weight costs of production were calculated by dividing the beef enterprise share of costs by the total live weight of beef produced.


The on-farm costs of beef production vary across farm businesses depending on herd size, the farm’s location, the quality of farm management and climatic and other production conditions during the year.

In the short term, to continue operating an enterprise, farm businesses need to generate only sufficient receipts to cover cash operating costs. This enables them to avoid drawing on receipts from other enterprises or borrowing or using financial assets to cover cash shortfalls.

Over a longer period, farm businesses need to replace farm capital (such as vehicles, machinery, plant, sheds and fencing) to maintain productivity as capital wears out. This cost is mostly captured in capital depreciation, but repairs and maintenance included in cash costs also include replacement and upgrading of some farm capital. Farms often vary their expenditure on capital items depending on need, available cash flow and access to finance. In some years farms invest more than the calculated depreciation and in other years much less. A farm business that continually invests less than the calculated depreciation will lose production capacity over the medium to long term.

ABARES includes the value of unpaid labour in its measurement of farm financial performance. In 2017–18 more than 95 per cent of Australian beef cattle–producing farms were family operated. Family-operated farms use a large amount of owner–manager, partner and family labour. These farms generally do not pay wages or salaries to family and partners who provide labour for the farm’s operation. Valuation of this labour input enables ABARES to compare the performance of all farm businesses equally regardless of the (paid or unpaid) labour arrangements in place. Valuation of unpaid labour also captures the requirement for the farm’s operators to receive a fair return for their labour input. ABARES values unpaid labour inputs at standard industry award wage rates.

Over the three years to 2017–18, on average, the smallest herd size producers had much higher cash costs of production per kilogram live weight produced than farms with larger herd sizes (Table 10, Table 11, Figure 30). On average, these small herd size farms had higher fixed (overhead) cash costs and higher variable costs per kilogram live weight produced.

Table 10 Per kilogram live weight cost of beef production and operating margins for beef cattle–producing farms, by herd size, Northern region, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Production and price unit 100 to 400 head 400 to 1,600 head 1,600 to 5,400 head more than 5,400 head average
Total live weight of cattle produced tonnes 35 (5) 117 (3) 369 (3) 1975 (4) 206 (2)
Average price received c/kg 265 (3) 268 (2) 293 (3) 236 (2) 261 (1)
Production costs
Cattle purchases c/kg 40 (15) 27 (11) 28 (9) 34 (9) 31 (5)
Repairs and maintenance c/kg 30 (8) 22 (5) 21 (5) 12 (5) 18 (3)
Fodder c/kg 19 (11) 16 (7) 15 (7) 10 (6) 13 (4)
Hired labour c/kg 2 (27) 4 (16) 8 (8) 16 (4) 10 (4)
Fuel and lubricants c/kg 16 (7) 10 (5) 9 (4) 8 (4) 9 (2)
Freight c/kg 5 (11) 6 (5) 9 (4) 11 (5) 9 (3)
Contracts paid c/kg 6 (17) 6 (11) 9 (9) 7 (6) 7 (5)
Administration c/kg 13 (9) 8 (6) 6 (5) 5 (10) 7 (4)
Rates c/kg 12 (7) 7 (8) 5 (9) 3 (5) 5 (4)
Livestock materials and veterinary chemicals c/kg 7 (9) 5 (7) 5 (7) 4 (10) 5 (5)
Handling and marketing c/kg 4 (14) 5 (7) 4 (7) 4 (8) 4 (4)
Land rent c/kg 3 (25) 4 (13) 3 (18) 2 (9) 3 (8)
Crop and pasture chemicals c/kg 2 (19) 1 (24) 1 (24) 0 (26) 1 (13)
Fertiliser c/kg 3 (15) 1 (25) 1 (37) 0 (23) 1 (15)
Other cash costs c/kg 30 (6) 21 (6) 18 (5) 11 (10) 16 (4)
Finance costs c/kg 13 (13) 19 (8) 20 (8) 9 (12) 15 (5)
Capital depreciation c/kg 36 (6) 28 (4) 21 (4) 9 (3) 19 (2)
Value of unpaid owner-manager, partner and family labour c/kg 130 (6) 53 (3) 25 (4) 4 (6) 30 (3)
Total cash costs excluding finance c/kg 190 (5) 145 (4) 143 (3) 126 (3) 140 190
Total cash costs including finance costs c/kg 203 (5) 163 (4) 163 (3) 136 (3) 154 203
Total cash, finance and depreciation costs c/kg 239 (5) 191 (3) 185 (3) 145 (3) 173 239
Total costs (all cash costs, finance, depreciation and the value of unpaid labour) c/kg 369 (4) 245 (3) 210 (3) 149 (3) 203 369
Operating margin over
Cash costs c/kg 75 (9) 123 (5) 150 (6) 109 (5) 122 (3)
Cash and finance costs c/kg 62 (12) 104 (7) 130 (7) 100 (6) 107 (4)
Cash, finance and depreciation costs c/kg 26 (32) 77 (10) 109 (9) 91 (6) 88 (5)
All costs including unpaid labour costs c/kg -104 (11) 23 (32) 84 (11) 86 (6) 58 (7)

Note: Figures in parentheses are standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest whole number and are presented in 2018–19 dollars. Cash costs include all expenditure on materials, interest, rent, services and labour such as fodder, rates, irrigation water, fuel, fertiliser, accountancy, electricity, veterinary chemicals and repairs incurred in the production of farm income. Cash costs do not include expenditure on items of farm capital such as purchase of vehicles, machinery, land, structures or improvements or value of labour and other inputs where no direct cash expenditure is made.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

On average, over the three years to 2017–18 producers in all herd size categories in the Northern and Southern regions covered cash costs of production. However, producers in both regions with fewer than 400 head of cattle, on average, did not fully cover all costs including the value of unpaid labour. The value of unpaid labour substantially adds to estimated total beef production costs, particularly for small herd size producers. On average, the total cost per kilogram live weight produced for farms with fewer than 400 head of beef cattle in both the Southern and Northern regions is estimated over the three years to 2016–17 to have been above the price received per kilogram of beef live weight sold.

Table 11 Per kilogram live weight cost of beef production and operating margins for beef cattle–producing farms, by herd size, Southern region, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Production and price unit 100 to 200 head 200 to 400 head 400 to 800 head More than 800 head average
Total live weight of cattle produced tonnes 26 (4) 58 (4) 119 (4) 331 (4) 81 (2)
Average price received c/kg 260 (2) 271 (2) 266 (2) 276 (2) 270 (1)
Production cost
Cattle purchases c/kg 35 (11) 39 (13) 28 (19) 38 (12) 35 (7)
Repairs and maintenance c/kg 25 (9) 19 (9) 14 (6) 14 (6) 17 (4)
Fertiliser c/kg 11 (14) 12 (10) 12 (9) 13 (6) 12 (4)
Fodder c/kg 14 (13) 11 (14) 15 (14) 9 (12) 12 (7)
Rates c/kg 14 (7) 11 (6) 7 (7) 5 (5) 8 (3)
Fuel and lubricants c/kg 3 (21) 3 (19) 7 (18) 11 (8) 7 (7)
Hired labour c/kg 11 (9) 9 (7) 7 (5) 5 (6) 7 (3)
Administration c/kg 12 (9) 7 (6) 7 (8) 5 (5) 7 (4)
Handling and marketing c/kg 7 (11) 6 (12) 7 (10) 7 (6) 7 (5)
Livestock materials and veterinary chemicals c/kg 9 (8) 6 (8) 6 (8) 5 (5) 6 (4)
Freight c/kg 5 (8) 5 (7) 5 (7) 6 (6) 5 (4)
Contracts paid c/kg 6 (21) 4 (13) 4 (15) 6 (11) 5 (7)
Land rent c/kg 3 (15) 3 (23) 2 (23) 3 (13) 3 (9)
Crop and pasture chemicals c/kg 3 (18) 3 (14) 2 (16) 2 (10) 2 (7)
Other cash costs c/kg 27 (4) 19 (5) 20 (7) 18 (6) 20 (3)
Finance costs c/kg 8 (11) 10 (15) 11 (12) 13 (9) 11 (6)
Capital depreciation c/kg 35 (6) 28 (5) 20 (4) 14 (4) 21 (3)
Value of unpaid owner-manager, partner and family labour c/kg 91 (5) 73 (6) 41 (6) 16 (6) 45 (3)
Total cash costs excluding finance costs c/kg 185 (4) 158 (3) 143 (5) 147 (4) 154 (2)
Total cash costs including finance costs c/kg 193 (4) 168 (3) 154 (5) 161 (4) 165 (2)
Total cash, finance and depreciation costs c/kg 228 (4) 196 (3) 174 (4) 174 (4) 186 (2)
Total costs (all cash costs, finance, depreciation and the value of unpaid labour) c/kg 319 (4) 268 (3) 215 (4) 191 (3) 231 (2)
Operating margin over
Cash costs c/kg 75 (11) 114 (5) 123 (5) 129 (4) 117 (3)
Cash and finance costs c/kg 67 (12) 104 (6) 112 (6) 116 (5) 105 (3)
Cash, finance and depreciation costs c/kg 32 (27) 76 (8) 92 (7) 102 (6) 84 (4)
All costs including unpaid labour costs c/kg -59 (18) 3 (237) 51 (15) 86 (7) 39 (10)

Note: Figures in parentheses are standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest whole number and are presented in 2018–19 dollars. Cash costs include all expenditure on materials, interest, rent, services and labour such as fodder, rates, irrigation water, fuel, fertiliser, accountancy, electricity, veterinary chemicals and repairs incurred in the production of farm income. Cash costs do not include expenditure on items of farm capital such as purchase of vehicles, machinery, land, structures or improvements or value of labour and other inputs where no direct cash expenditure is made.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Many small herd size farms use income from other farm enterprises and off-farm sources to help meet operator living expenses. Small herd size producers, particularly small specialist beef producers (farms deriving more than 50 per cent of their farm receipts from sales of beef cattle) with no other farm enterprise, have high per kilogram production costs. Unpaid labour costs are particularly high for these farms. Also, fixed costs – including the running costs of farm vehicles and plant and machinery, shire rates, maintenance and insurance of farm buildings, improvements and any included household expenditure – are spread over relatively little output.

For larger herd size farms (those with more than 400 head of beef cattle), the price received for beef cattle was, on average, sufficient to cover all costs of production including the value of unpaid labour (Figure 30).

The average price received per kilogram of beef was slightly lower for the largest herd size farms in the Northern region (Figure 30). This partly reflects the impact of dry seasonal conditions in parts of the northern region between 2013–14 and 2016–17, together with a higher proportion of younger cattle turned off for live export and or transferred to other farms for finishing.

In the southern region, between 2015–16 and 2017–18 the average price received per kilogram of beef produced increased slightly with herd size (Figure 30). This may indicate that farms with larger herd sizes in the southern region produced better quality or better finished beef cattle during this period.


This suggests that beef production in the Northern and Southern regions exhibits economies of size. The results show the average cost of production declines consistently with increased herd size.

Over the three years to 2017–18, total costs of production averaged 203 cents per kilogram live weight in the Northern region (Table 10) and 231 cents in Southern region (Table 11).

Regional differences in average costs of beef production partly reflect the distribution of farms by herd size. Victoria has the highest proportion of small herd size farms (Martin 2015) and the highest average total cost of production, at 247 cents per kilogram for the three years to 2017–18 (Table 12). In contrast, the Northern Territory has a high proportion of very large herd sizes and the lowest total cost of production, at 141 cents per kilogram. A higher proportion of cattle in the Northern Territory were turned off for live export. Costs of production for cattle sold for live export are generally lower. This is because cattle are sold for live export at a younger age and at lighter weights than they are for domestic slaughter (Gleeson, Martin & Mifsud 2012).

Table 12 Per kilogram live weight cost of production and operating margins for beef cattle–producing farms, by state and territory, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Production and price unit New South Wales Victoria Queensland South Australia Western Australia Tasmania Northern Territory
Total live weight of cattle produced tonnes 81 (4) 68 (5) 173 (3) 87 (13) 144 (6) 116 (7) 1454 (7)
Average price received c/kg 287 (2) 259 (2) 268 (2) 253 (5) 237 (3) 258 (3) 229 (4)
Production costs
Total cash costs excluding finance costs c/kg 163 (3) 153 (5) 142 (2) 138 (6) 131 (5) 154 (4) 122 (5)
Total cash costs including finance costs c/kg 178 (3) 160 (4) 159 (2) 144 (6) 138 (5) 164 (4) 127 (5)
Total cash, finance and depreciation costs c/kg 198 (3) 185 (4) 180 (2) 163 (6) 157 (5) 182 (4) 137 (5)
Total costs (all cash costs, finance, depreciation and the value of unpaid labour) c/kg 241 (2) 247 (4) 215 (2) 194 (7) 183 (4) 218 (4) 141 (4)
Operating margin over
Cash costs c/kg 124 (4) 106 (6) 126 (4) 115 (9) 106 (7) 104 (6) 108 (7)
Cash and finance costs c/kg 109 (5) 98 (7) 109 (5) 109 (10) 99 (7) 94 (7) 102 (7)
Cash, finance and depreciation costs c/kg 89 (6) 74 (10) 88 (6) 90 (12) 80 (9) 76 (9) 93 (7)
All costs including unpaid labour costs c/kg 46 (12) 12 (82) 53 (10) 59 (19) 54 (15) 40 (17) 88 (8)

Note: Figures in parentheses are standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest whole number and are presented in 2018–19 dollars. Cash costs include all expenditure on materials, interest, rent, services and labour such as fodder, rates, irrigation water, fuel, fertiliser, accountancy, electricity, veterinary chemicals and repairs incurred in the production of farm income. Cash costs do not include expenditure on items of farm capital such as purchase of vehicles, machinery, land, structures or improvements or value of labour and other inputs where no direct cash expenditure is made.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

The total cost of beef production for Queensland was relatively high, averaging 215 cents per kilogram for the three years ending 2017–18. Several factors contributed to relatively high production costs in Queensland during this period:

  • Queensland has a large proportion of relatively small beef herd farms, particularly near coastal and cropping areas. Many of the small farms have high cash costs relative to the quantity of beef they produce.
  • A high proportion of Queensland beef producers experienced dry seasonal conditions between 2015–16 and 2017–18. This resulted in increased cash costs, particularly for fodder and freight.
  • Many beef farms in Queensland have relatively high debt levels. Finance costs (interest payments on debt) accounted for 8 per cent of the total costs of beef production in Queensland (or 17 cents per kilogram), averaged over the three years from 2015–16 to 2017–18. This proportion was higher than all other states and the Northern Territory.

Operating margins

The average operating margin for beef cattle producers in the Southern region increased significantly between 2015–16 and 2016–17 due to higher average prices received for cattle (Figure 31 and Table 9). In the Northern region there was a modest increase in operating margins in 2016-17 compared with the previous year due to a decline in costs (largely fodder, repairs and maintenance, and labour costs). Average cattle prices in the Northern region were largely unchanged in 2016-17, with dry seasonal conditions in 2017 resulting in an increase in turn-off of unfinished cattle.

In 2017–18 average prices received for beef cattle declined as turn-off of more unfinished cattle resulted in reduced operating margins in both regions. The reduction in prices received was larger in the Southern region due to the onset of dry seasonal conditions, resulting in a larger decline in operating margins compared to the north. Operating margins declined to average 47 and 20 cents per kilogram live weight for the Northern and Southern regions respectively.


Productivity

Agricultural productivity estimates are available for the beef industry.

References

ABS 2019a, Agricultural commodities, Australia, 2017–2018, cat. no. 7121.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 21 June 2019.

ABS 2019b, Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia, 2017–2018, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 21 June 2019.

Gleeson, T, Martin, P & Mifsud, C 2012, Northern Australian beef industry: assessment of risks and opportunities, ABARES report to client for the Northern Australia Ministerial Forum, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.

Martin, P 2015, Australian beef: financial performance of beef cattle producing farms, 2012–13 to 2014–15, ABARES research report prepared for Meat & Livestock Australia, Canberra, August.

Data and other resources

Beef, lamb and sheep industries data

A large selection of ABARES farm survey data on the beef, slaughter lambs and sheep industries

Previous reports

See our previous research page for previous versions of the report Australian beef: financial performance of beef farms.

Farm surveys definitions and methods

Further information about our survey definitions and methods.

Farm performance: broadacre and dairy farms

This web report provides a detailed profile of the financial performance of farm businesses in the grains, livestock and dairy industries in the years 2016–17 to 2018–19.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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