Disaggregating farm performance statistics by size

This data dashboard contains farm performance statistics for farms of different sizes, by industry and region. These data have been collected through ABARES surveys of broadacre, dairy, and vegetables farms. The statistics displayed on this data dashboard complement other ABARES farm performance statistics, and highlight the significant differences in financial performance that exist across farms of different sizes.

This PowerBI data dashboard may not meet accessibility requirements. For more information about the contents of this product contact ABARES.

Key points for 2017–18 to 2019–20

  • The largest 10% of broadacre farms produced around half of total output, while the smallest 50% of farms produced around 10% of total output.
  • The beef industry was the most concentrated broadacre industry, with the largest 10% of farms producing well over half of total industry output in the 3 years to 2019–20. This is especially pronounced in northern Australia, where farms in the top decile are over twice as large, and significantly more profitable as their counterparts in southern Australia.
  • Farm size differences were largest in the vegetables industry. Those in the largest decile produced more than 150 times more output than farms in the smallest decile. Output was most equally distributed in the dairy industry. Nonetheless, the largest 10% of dairy farms used more than 9 times the capital to produce more than 25 times the output of the smallest 10% of farms.


Size is an important determinant of farm business performance. Larger farms tend to be more profitable, invest more, and generate a higher rate of return on capital than smaller farms. Moreover, larger farms have more capacity to reduce their costs through scale, and a greater ability to invest in productivity-enhancing capital additions. These factors have driven a trend in recent decades towards fewer, but larger farm businesses. An important consequence of this trend is that industry level farm performance is increasingly driven by the performance of the largest farms.


The statistics presented in the dynamic tables include the following variables:

  • Share of total output produced
  • Total cash receipts
  • Total cash costs
  • Profit at full equity
  • Total capital as at the beginning of the financial year
  • Net capital additions
  • Rate of return on capital, including capital appreciation
  • Farm business equity ratio

Source data

This data dashboard provides statistics sourced from the following ABARES farm surveys:

  • Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey (AAGIS)
  • Australian Dairy Industry Survey (ADIS)
  • Survey of Australian Vegetable Growing Farms (most recent data is for 2018–19)

Farms in the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries are separated into size deciles based on farm total cash receipts—a measure of total revenue received by the business in a given financial year.  Each category or ‘decile’ represents 10% of the farm population in each industry or region, ranked from smallest to largest based on revenue.

Farm performance varies significantly from year to year, reflecting volatility in seasonal conditions and commodity prices. Therefore, data are averaged over 2017–18 to 2019–20 to provide a more meaningful measure of farm performance than would be provided by a single year.

Industry and region coverage

Statistics for the broadacre industry are further split into the sub-industries of wheat and other crops, beef, sheep, grains, and mixed cropping–livestock. The grains industry is separated into the Grains Research and Development Corporation Western, Northern and Southern regions and the beef industry into the Meat & Livestock Australia Northern and Southern regions. Data are presented in dynamic tables according to classification by industry and region.

Further reading

Farm survey definitions and methods used to produce these statistics are available on the ABARES website. For further analysis and information about the design of these statistics see Boult and Jackson (2019).


Boult, C & Jackson, T 2019, ‘Disaggregating farm performance statistics by size, 2017–18’, in Agricultural Commodities: March quarter 2019, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.

Previous reports

Disaggregating farm performance statistics by size, 2018–19
Disaggregating farm performance statistics by size, 2017–18

Last reviewed: 19 August 2021
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