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 159,800 people (ABS 2017).
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 November 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 79,700 people were employed in the Ballarat region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 9 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 10,700 people. Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the second largest employment sector with 8,800 people, representing about 11 per cent of the region's workforce. Other important employment sectors in the region were retail trade; manufacturing; construction; and accommodation and food services.
Value of agricultural production
In 2016–17, the gross value of agricultural production in the Ballarat region was $689 million, which was 5 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($14 billion).
The Ballarat region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were sheep and lambs ($138 million), followed by wool ($90 million) and wheat ($78 million). These commodities together contributed 44 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2016–17 the Ballarat region accounted for 51 per cent ($60 million) of the total value of Victoria's potato production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2015–16 there were 1,047 farms in the Ballarat region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 5 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Ballarat region, 2015–16
|Industry classification||Ballarat region||Victoria|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised) || 395 ||37.7 || 2,797 ||14.1 |
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming || 160 ||15.3 || 1,796 ||8.9 |
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised) || 128 ||12.2 || 4,291 ||3.0 |
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming || 105 ||10.0 || 1,245 ||8.5 |
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors) || 65 ||6.2 || 542 ||12.0 |
|Other Grain Growing || 63 ||6.0 || 2,076 ||3.0 |
|Horse Farming || 29 ||2.7 || 477 ||6.0 |
|Dairy Cattle Farming || 28 ||2.6 || 4,316 ||0.6 |
|Grape Growing || 21 ||2.0 || 838 ||2.5 |
|Other Crop Growing
nec|| 10 ||1.0 || 371 ||2.7 |
|Other|| 44 ||4.2 || 1,784 ||2.5 |
Total agriculture ||
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 2017
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Sheep farms (395 farms) were the most common, accounting for 38 per cent of all farms in the Ballarat region, and 14 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 31 per cent of farms in the Ballarat region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 7 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2015–16. In comparison, 21 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 61 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Ballarat region in 2015–16.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Victoria.
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Ballarat region was 22,000 hectares, comprised of 8,500 hectares of hardwood plantations and 13,500 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 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 were multiple-use public forests available for timber production (120,100 hectares), 69,700 hectares were privately managed and 56,100 hectares were in nature conservation reserves. Major timber processing industries are located at Beaufort and Ballarat, all of which are sawmills.
In 2015–16, the total plantation area in Victoria was 423,000 hectares, comprised of 199,000 hectares of hardwood plantations, 223,300 hectares of softwood plantations and 800 hectares of other plantations.
In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 1.3 million cubic metres valued at $112 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 2.8 million cubic metres valued at $194 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4 million cubic metres valued at $293 million.
The sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Victoria was estimated at $3.4 billion in 2015–16. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2015−16.
In 2016, the Victorian forestry sector employed 16,713 workers (0.6 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 21,825 (0.9 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry, logging, support services, timber wholesaling; and wood, pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.
Areas of native forest, by tenure, Ballarat region
ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013