Farm financial performance – New South Wales

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

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Average farm cash incomes were high in New South Wales in 2014–15 and increased further in almost all regions in 2015–16 as a result of higher prices for beef cattle and increased crop production, particularly in the North West Slopes and Plains region (Table 2).

In 2016–17 average farm cash incomes are estimated to have increased further in all regions of New South Wales as a result of record winter crop production and higher prices for beef cattle, sheep, lambs and wool (Table 1). In the Riverina region, increased rice production as a result of increased availability of irrigation water in 2016–17 is also estimated to have contributed to higher average farm receipts.

Average broadacre farm cash income in New South Wales is estimated to have increased to average $203,000 per farm in 2016–17. If achieved, this would be more than 150 per cent above the 10-year average to 2015–16 of $79,000 and the highest average farm cash income recorded in New South Wales in the 20 years since 1996–97 (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Real farm cash income, broadacre industries, 1996–97 to 2016–17
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for broadacre industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from 2001–02 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey
Table 1 Financial performance, all broadacre industries, New South Wales, 2014–15 to 2016–17
average per farm
MeasureUnit2014–152015–16pRSE2016–17y
Total cash receipts$471,020533,800(4)568,000
Total cash costs$330,050352,900(5)366,000
Farm cash income$140,970180,900(6)203,000
Farms with negative farm cash income%1312(20)14
Farm business profit $27,39095,300(11)106,000
Profit at full equity
– excluding cap. appreciation$62,610132,900(8)144,000
– including cap. appreciation$132,070522,900(32)na
Farm capital at 30 June a$4,060,1204,879,900(5)na
Net capital additions$73,87060,900(64)na
Farm debt at 30 June b$500,520549,300(8)590,000
Change in debt – 1 July to 30 June b%914(27)3
Equity at 30 June bc$3,429,3503,821,300(4)na
Equity ratio bd%8787(1)na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b$178,520237,700(18)na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b$41,41057,100(14)na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b%2225(13)na
Rate of return e
– excluding cap. appreciation%1.63.0(8)3.0
– including cap. appreciation%3.411.9(31)na
Off-farm income of owner manager and spouse b$42,68038,400(8)na

a Excludes leased plant and equipment. b Excludes capital appreciation. c Farm capital minus farm debt. d Equity expressed as a percentage of farm capital. e Rate of return to farm capital at 1 July. p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. RSE Figures in parentheses are standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Table 2 Farm cash income of New South Wales broadacre farms, by region, 2014–15 to 2016–17
average per farm
RegionUnit2014–152015–16pRSE2016–17y
111: NSW Far West$178,860271,900(17)383,000
121: NSW North West Slopes and Plains$108,260245,200(15)282,000
122: NSW Central West$196,210152,400(12)186,000
123: NSW Riverina$210,850227,700(12)244,000
131: NSW Tablelands$81,940148,400(12)143,000
132: NSW Coastal$27,54043,400(22)60,000

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

Shows the ABARES high rainfall zone (eastern seaboard, South Australian south-east coast and south-west coast of Western Australia); wheat–sheep zone (south-east Queensland excluding the coast; central New South Wales, including the North West Slopes and Plains, Central West and Riverina, northern Victoria, South Australian Eyre Peninsula, Murraylands and Yorke Peninsula and Western Australian wheat belt ); and pastoral zone (Northern Territory, northern and central Western Australia, northern and central South Australia, western New South Wales, and northern and western Queensland). The map also shows the ABARES regions within these zones.
Note: Each region is identified by a unique code of three digits. The first digit identifies the state or territory, the second digit identifies the zone and the third digit identifies the region.
Source: ABARES

Average farm cash incomes of New South Wales beef industry farms increased from $70,300 to $122,400 per farm in 2015–16 (Figure 2) as a result of higher average prices received for beef cattle and an increase in the number of cattle sold.

In 2016–17 farm cash income of New South Wales beef industry farms is estimated to remain similar to those for 2015–16 at $124,000 per farm. Receipts from the sale of cattle is expected to increase slightly as a result of a further increase in saleyard prices for beef cattle and despite farmers reducing beef cattle turn-off and beginning to rebuild herd numbers. Average farm cash income of New South Wales beef industry farms is estimated to be around 178 per cent above the 10–year average to 2015–16 of $44,800 per farm.

Figure 2 Real farm cash income, beef industry, 1996–97 to 2016–17
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for beef industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from 2001–02 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

In 2015–16 farm cash income for sheep industry farms increased to average $158,900 per farm (Figure 3) due to an increase in receipts from the sale of sheep, lambs and wool.

In 2016–17 farm cash income for New South Wales sheep industry farms is estimated to have further increased to average $192,000 per farm as a result of higher wool, lamb and sheep prices combined with increased turn-off. Farm cash income is estimated to have been around 133 per cent higher than the 10-year average to 2015–16.

Figure 3 Real farm cash income, sheep industry, 1996–97 to 2016–17
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for sheep industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from   2001–02 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Farm cash income for New South Wales grains farms increased in 2015–16 to an average of $236,900 per farm (Figure 4). Increases in receipts for beef cattle and wool on mixed enterprise farms more than offset lower crop receipts resulting from lower grain prices.

In 2016–17 average farm cash income for New South Wales grains industry farms is estimated to have increased to $263,000 per farm, around 106 per cent above the 10-year average to 2015–16.

Record yields in 2016–17 increased winter crop production. Crop receipts increased by 15 per cent, despite reductions in wheat and barley prices.

Total cash costs are estimated to have increased by around 6 per cent, because of higher expenditure incurred harvesting and marketing the much larger 2016–17 winter crop and despite reduced expenditure on fodder.

Figure 4 Real farm cash income, grains industry, 1996–97 to 2016–17
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for grains industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from   2001–02 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

Average farm cash income of New South Wales dairy farms increased from an average of $179,210 per farm in 2014–15 to $183,700 in 2015–16 (Figure 5). The increase in farm cash income was as result of a slight increase in average farmgate milk prices in northern and central New South Wales. Farm cash receipts were also boosted by higher prices for cull dairy cows and other dairy and beef cattle.

In 2016–17 farm cash income of New South Wales dairy industry farms is estimated to have declined to an average of $166,000 per farm, around 16 per cent below the 10-year average to 2015–16. This reflects the effects of lower milk prices paid by some processors and reduced milk production per farm. Reductions in total cash receipts is estimated to have been partially offset by lower average cash costs. Lower hay and feed grain prices, favourable seasonal conditions in spring and early summer, increased availability of irrigation water and reduced dairy cow numbers all contributed to reduced fodder expenditure in 2016–17.

Figure 5 Real farm cash income, dairy industry, 1996–97 to 2016–17
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for dairy industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from   2001–02 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey
Table 3 Financial performance, New South Wales dairy industry 2014–15 to 2016–17
average per farm
MeasureUnit2014–152015–16pRSE2016–17y
Total cash receipts$929,050995,900(3)936,000
Total cash costs$749,840812,200(4)770,000
Farm cash income$179,210183,700(9)166,000
Farms with negative farm cash income%159(34)15
Farm business profit $78,66055,900(35)4,000
Profit at full equity
– excluding capital appreciation$147,500124,700(16)71,000
– including capital appreciation$260,870306,800(14)na
Farm capital at 30 June a$4,747,6205,213,200(7)na
Net capital additions$78,350200,500(38)na
Farm debt at 30 June b$933,7401,026,400(11)1,016,000
Change in debt – 1 July to 30 June b%67(46)6
Equity at 30 June bc$3,756,6904,006,700(6)na
Equity ratio bd%8080(3)na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b$381,180442,200(33)na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b$27,12036,900(31)na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b%1723(31)na
Rate of return e
– excluding capital appreciation%3.32.6(17)1.4
– including capital appreciation%5.86.3(15)na
Off-farm income of owner manager and spouse b$16,33018,800(17)na

a Excludes leased plant and equipment. b Excludes capital appreciation. c Farm capital minus farm debt. d Equity expressed as a percentage of farm capital. e Rate of return to farm capital at 1 July. p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. RSE Figures in parentheses are standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian Dairy Industry Survey

There were an estimated 520 vegetable growing farms in New South Wales in 2014–15, accounting for around 21 per cent of Australian vegetable growing farms. Most of those vegetable farms in New South Wales were located in Greater Sydney, the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and the Far North Coast.

Farm cash income is estimated to have increased in 2015–16 to an average of $189,000 a farm, 128 per cent higher than the 9-year average farm cash income (in real terms) to 2014–15. Total vegetable production declined marginally as a result of a slight decline in the average area planted, but higher receipts for tomatoes, pumpkins, cabbage and lettuce resulted in an increase in total vegetable cash receipts in 2015–16.

Table 4 Selected physical and financial results, Australian vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2014–15 and 2015–16, average per farm
Indicator2014–15pRSE% change from 2013–142015–16y% change from 2014–15
Vegetable cash receipts ($)341,900(104)41451,00032
Area planted to vegetables (hectares)22(9)–522–3
Quantity of vegetables produced (tonnes)609(17)23596–2
Farm cash income ($)81,300(46)59189,000133

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Note: Figures in parentheses are standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Figure 6 Real farm cash income, vegetable industry, 2005–06 to 2015–16
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for vegetable industry farms in Australia and New South Wales from   2005–06 to 2015–16 in 2015–16 dollars. Farm cash income has been consistently positive. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Vegetable Growing Farms Survey

The New South Wales sugarcane industry is mainly located between Grafton and Queensland border.

Farm cash income of New South Wales sugarcane growing farms is estimated to have increased from an average of $38,100 a farm in 2013–14 to an average of $82 000 a farm in 2014–15 as a result of increased sugarcane production.

Sugarcane receipts averaged $2,300 per hectare planted to sugarcane for New South Wales region farm businesses in 2013–14, compared to $3,090 for all sugarcane businesses nationally. Average cash costs of sugarcane production (excluding finance costs) was $2,040 per hectare in 2013–14 compared with $2,490 per hectare for all sugarcane businesses nationally, resulting in a cash operating margin (before finance costs) of $270 per hectare. This was below the average for all sugarcane businesses nationally of $600 per hectare in 2013–14.

Table 5 Physical and financial performance, sugarcane growing farm businesses, New South Wales, 2013–14 to 2014–15
average per farm
Financial year Area
(ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Production
(t)
Total
cash receipts
($)
Total
cash costs
($)
Farm
cash income
($)
Rate of return
(%) a
2013–14 62734,642176,700138,50038,100–2.6
2014–15 y62966,008218,000136,00082,000–0.6

Source: ABARES Australian Sugarcane Farm Businesses Survey
a rate of return excluding capital appreciation
y provisional estimate

In New South Wales, in 2013–14, 3 per cent of sugarcane growers intended to expand production over the next five years, the lowest proportion of all Australian sugarcane producing regions. The highest proportion of farms expecting to diversify or reduce production was in New South Wales (31 per cent).

These financial performance results were sourced from ABARES survey of Australian sugarcane growing farm businesses, which collected a comprehensive set of financial, physical and management information on farm businesses that grow sugarcane. Comprehensive results can be found here.

Major financial performance indicators

  • Total cash receipts: total revenues received by the business during the financial year.
  • Total cash costs: payments made by the business for materials and services and for permanent and casual hired labour (excluding owner manager, partner and family labour).
  • Farm cash income: total cash receipts - total cash costs
  • Farm business profit: farm cash income + changes in trading stocks - depreciation - imputed labour costs
  • Profit at full equity: return produced by all the resources used in the business, farm business profit + rent + interest + finance lease payments - depreciation on leased items
  • Rate of return: return to all capital used, profit at full equity * 100 / total opening capital
  • Equity ratio: farm capital minus farm debt expressed as a percentage of farm capital

Industry types

  • Grains: farms mainly engaged in producing broadacre crops such as wheat, coarse grains, oilseeds and pulses, and including farms running sheep and/or beef cattle in conjunction with substantial broadacre crop activity.
  • Sheep: farms mainly engaged in running sheep.
  • Beef: farms mainly engaged in running beef cattle.
  • Dairy: farms mainly engaged in milk production.
  • Vegetable: farms mainly engaged in growing vegetables.

Farm surveys definitions and methods
Further information about our survey definitions and methods.

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Last reviewed:
28 Sep 2017