Farm financial performance — Northern Territory

​​​​Estimates of financial performance are available for beef farms in the Northern Territory.

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Many farm businesses in the upper Northern Territory derive a large share of their total cash receipts from selling cattle for live export, particularly to Indonesia. The expansion of the live export trade between 2013–14 and 2015–16 resulted in cattle being sourced from a much expanded area of northern Australia.

In 2015–16 beef cattle receipts increased by 50 per cent, as a result of a 40 per cent increase in the average price received for beef cattle and a 10 per cent increase in the number of beef cattle sold. Average total cash costs increased by 15 per cent, partly offsetting higher farm receipts. Expenditure was higher on beef cattle purchases, hired labour, contracts, freight and livestock selling costs. The value of cattle transferred onto stations by businesses with properties interstate also increased.

Further increases in beef cattle prices are estimated to have resulted in a small increase in average farm cash income for the Northern Territory in 2016–17 (Table 1). Average farm cash income is estimated to have decreased in the Victoria River District – Katherine region due to reduced cattle turn-off (Table 2). Overall farm cash incomes in the Northern Territory are estimated to have increased slightly to average $2,098,000 per farm in 2016–17, compared with the 10-year average to 2015–16 of $418,000 per farm.

In 2016–17 an increase in cattle numbers is expected due to favourable seasonal conditions and higher branding rates, increased purchases and transfers onto corporate properties. This is expected to result in an increase in the value of inventories and a larger increase in farm business profit.

Real farm cash income, beef industry, 1996–97 to 2016–17
average per farm
Shows real farm cash income, beef industry, 2001–02 to 2015–16, average per farm. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
Note: y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

The average financial performance of beef industry farms in the Northern Territory is heavily influenced by the performance of very large herd size, mostly corporate farms. These farms are found in all Northern Territory Regions, but predominantly in the Barkly and Victoria River – Katherine districts. These businesses dominate cattle turn-off and financial performance estimates for the Northern Territory and typically have financial performance that is well above the average for other smaller herd size businesses in the region as well as performance that is very variable from year to year.

Farm cash income of businesses with greater than 10,000 head of cattle averaged $2 million over the 10 years ending 2015–16 with substantial variability between years.

Real farm cash income, beef industry farms with greater than 10,000 head of cattle, 1996–97 to 2016–17
average per farm
Shows real farm cash income, beef industry farms with greater than 10,000 head of cattle, 2001–02 to 2015–16, average per farm. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
Note: y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey

In contrast, farm cash income of businesses with less than 10,000 head of beef cattle averaged just $90,000 per farm over the same period.

Real farm cash income, beef industry farms with less than 10,000 head of cattle, 1996–97 to 2016–17
average per farm
Shows real farm cash income, beef industry farms with less than 10,000 head of cattle, 2001–02 to 2015–16, average per farm. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
Note: y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey
Table 1 Financial performance, all broadacre industries, Northern Territory, 2014–15 to 2016–17
average per farm
MeasureUnit2014–152015–16pRSE2016–17y
Total cash receipts$2,283,7803,706,200(13)3,830,000
Total cash costs$1,460,1901,673,700(13)1,731,000
Farm cash income$823,5802,032,400(16)2,098,000
Farms with negative farm cash income%191(148)1
Farm business profit $455,3601,222,800(15)2,051,000
Profit at full equity
– excluding cap. appreciation$564,4901,355,400(14)2,177,000
– including cap. appreciation$1,751,1403,236,800(11)na
Farm capital at 30 June a$20,115,48023,143,900(10)na
Net capital additions$79,170230,000(75)na
Farm debt at 30 June b$1,223,2401,183,400(28)1,288,000
Change in debt – 1 July to 30 June b%–181(1291)3
Equity at 30 June bc$7,549,4009,232,500(12)na
Equity ratio bd%8689(2)na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b$53,33074,500(52)na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b$3,54010,700(108)na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b%23(73)na
Rate of return e
– excluding cap. appreciation%3.06.3(8)9.5
– including cap. appreciation%9.214.9(5)na
Off-farm income of owner manager and spouse b$65,58075,000(44)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 Northern Territory broadacre farms, by region, 2014–15 to 2016–17
average per farm
RegionUnit2014–152015–16pRSE2016–17y
711: NT Alice Springs District$398,490548,900(33)1,153,000
712: NT Barkly Tablelands$3,600,6206,545,200(6)7,051,000
713: NT Victoria River District - Katherine$337,7201,728,900(30)1,416,000
714: NT Top End Darwin and the Gulf $159,690215,500(99)287,000

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

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.
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Last reviewed:
18 May 2017