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 Ballarat region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.
The Ballarat region is located in the south west of Victoria (refer to land use map below). The region comprises the four local government areas of Ballarat, Central Goldfields, Hepburn and Pyrenees, and parts of the Ararat, Golden Plains, Loddon, Moorabool, and Mount Alexander local government areas. The region incorporates the major regional centre of Ballarat. The region covers a total area of around 10,288 square kilometres or 4.5 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 146,200 people (ABS 2011).
Agricultural land in the Ballarat region occupies 6,534 square kilometres, or 63 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 1,015 square kilometres, or 10 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 4,878 square kilometres or 47.4 cent of the Ballarat region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 77,900 people were employed in the Ballarat region. The region accounts for 3 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 13,000 people, followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing with 8,800 people, representing about 11 per cent of the region's workforce. Manufacturing was the third largest employment sector with 7,100 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services, retail trade and construction.
Value of agricultural production
In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the Ballarat region was $447 million, which was 3 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($13.1 billion).
The Ballarat region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region (refer to figure below) based on the gross value of agricultural production were sheep and lambs ($120 million), followed by potatoes ($59 million) and wool ($55 million). These commodities together contributed 53 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2014–15 the Ballarat region accounted for 49 per cent ($59 million) of the total value of Victoria's potato production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 1,151 farms in the Ballarat region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 4 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Ballarat region, 2014–15
|Industry classification||Ballarat region||Victoria|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||307||26.6||2,987||10.3|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||205||17.8||2,160||9.5|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||197||17.1||7,740||2.5|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||109||9.5||1,415||7.7|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||104||9.0||566||18.4|
|Other Grain Growing||90||7.8||2,939||3.1|
|Total agriculture ||1,151||100||26,571||4.3|
Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $5,000 or more.
Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Sheep farms (307 farms) were the most common, accounting for 27 per cent of all farms in the Ballarat region, and 10 per cent of all sheep 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 41 per cent of farms in the Ballarat region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 5 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 11 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 58 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Ballarat region in 2014–15.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in Victoria.
In 2010–11, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Ballarat region was approximately 22,800 hectares, comprised of approximately 8,700 hectares of hardwood plantations and 14,100 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were approximately 252,700 hectares of native forests in the Ballarat region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium open (177,800 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (33,400 hectares) and Eucalypt tall open (17,600 hectares) forest types. The majority of the native forests are multiple-use public forest available for timber production (120,100 hectares), approximately 69,700 hectares are privately managed and approximately 56,100 hectares are in nature conservation reserves (refer to figure below). Major timber processing industries are located at Beaufort and Ballarat, all of which are sawmills.
In 2013–14, the total plantation area in Victoria was approximately 433,100 hectares, comprised of approximately 206,000 hectares of hardwood plantations and 226,000 hectares of softwood plantations and 1,100 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2014–15, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 1.3 million cubic metres valued at $109 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 2.8 million cubic metres valued at $197 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 3.9 million cubic metres valued at $280 million.
Total sales and service income in the Victorian forest and wood product industry was estimated at approximately $6.1 billion in 2013–14, of which $3.6 billion was from the sale of paper and paper products, and the remaining $2.6 billion was generated from other wood product sales.
In 2011, the Victorian forestry sector employed 21,826 workers (0.9 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 23,672 (1.1 per cent) in 2006. The number of people employed includes forestry support services and timber wholesaling.
Areas of native forest, by tenure, Victoria
Source :ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013
ABS 2011, Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.