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About my region – Far West and Orana New South Wales

​​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 sector in the Far West and Orana region and the recent financial performance of the New South Wales broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane industries.

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Regional overview

The Far West and Orana region of New South Wales is located in the north-west corner of the state extending north-west from Dubbo to the borders with South Australia and Queensland. It includes the towns of Bourke and Wilcannia on the Darling River, and Broken Hill. The region comprises the eleven local government areas of Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Central Darling, Cobar, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Narromine, Walgett, and Warren, and parts of the Cabonne, Lachlan, Warrumbungle Shire and Western Plains Regional areas. The region covers a total area of around 339,364 square kilometres or 42.4 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 116,800 people (ABS 2017).

Agricultural land in the Far West and Orana region occupies 306,953 square kilometres, or 90 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas, and minimal use) occupy 24,531 square kilometres, or 7 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 249,470 square kilometres or 74 per cent of the Far West and Orana region.

Broad land use in the Far West and Orana region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Far West and Orana 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 ABARES 2016

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 59,700 people were employed in the Far West and Orana region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 15 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 11,700 people, representing 20 per cent of the region's workforce. This was followed by health care and social assistance with 8,600 people, and retail trade with 8,300 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were education and training; accommodation and food services; and construction.

Employment profile, Far West and Orana region, August 2017
Shows the number of people employed in the Far West and Orana region by industry in thousands. The figure is discussed in the previous two paragraphs.
Note: Annual average of the preceding 4 quarters
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 6291.0, Labour Force, Australia 2017

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2015–16, the gross value of agricultural production in the Far West and Orana region was $1.5 billion, which was 12 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13.1 billion).

The Far West and Orana region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($358 million), followed by wheat ($300 million), and wool ($215 million). These commodities together contributed 56 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. Additionally, in 2015–16 the Far West and Orana region accounted for 73 per cent ($5 million) of the total value of the state's goat production.

Value of agricultural production, Far West and Orana region, 2015-16
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Far West and Orana 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 2017

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 3,256 farms in the Far West and Orana region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 9 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Far West and Orana region, 2014–15
Industry classificationFar West and Orana regionNew South Wales
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region to state total %
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)87626.913,0596.7
Sheep Farming (Specialised)59618.33,39717.5
Other Grain Growing55617.14,45412.5
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming50315.52,82617.8
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming44413.63,05314.5
Beekeeping441.37856.0
Other Livestock Farming nec421.323118.1
Cotton Growing411.323017.9
Other1544.78,1251.9
Total agriculture 3,256 100 35,453 9.2

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
nec Not elsewhere classified
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (876 farms) were the most common, accounting for 27 per cent of all farms in the Far West and Orana region, and 7 per cent of all beef cattle farms in New South Wales.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 35 per cent of farms in the Far West and Orana region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 3 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 14 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 65 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Far West and Orana region in 2014–15.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Far West and Orana region, 2014–15
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Far West and Orana region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane farms in New South Wales.

References

ABS 2017, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2016, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 19 September 2017.

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Last reviewed:
19 Oct 2017