Farm financial performance – Queensland

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

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Farm cash incomes increased in all Queensland regions in 2014–15 and again in 2015–16. This was achieved partly through a reduction in cattle herds as cattle turn-off increased in response to dry seasonal conditions and higher cattle prices.

Further small increases in average farm cash income are estimated for some Queensland regions (Table 2), with higher cattle prices offsetting reductions in cattle turn-off in 2016–17. A larger increase is estimated for the Cape York and Gulf region, where a greater increase in turn-off is estimated. In West and South West Queensland, South Queensland Coastal and Eastern Darling Downs, average farm cash income is estimated to have declined due to reduced beef cattle turn-off as herd rebuilding commences.

Farm cash incomes are estimated to have increased slightly for the Darling Downs and Central Highlands as a result of increased winter crop production mostly offsetting the decline in wheat and barley prices combined with a small increase in beef cattle receipts. Nevertheless, crop receipts are estimated to have declined for some farms as a result of lower prices and a reduction in grain sorghum production due to reduced plantings in 2016–17.

Overall, for Queensland broadacre farms average total farm cash receipts are estimated to have increased by 8 per cent. Average total cash costs are estimated to have increased by around 7 per cent in 2016–17, mainly as a result of an increase in beef cattle purchase expenditure in some regions.

Average broadacre farm cash income in Queensland is estimated to have increased to $222,000 per farm in 2016–17 (Table 1 and Figure 1). If achieved, this would be around 140 per cent above the 10-year average to 2015–16 and the highest recorded for Queensland in the 20 years since 1996–97.

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 Queensland from 1996–97 to 2016–17 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, Queensland, 2014–15 to 2016–17
average per farm

MeasureUnit2014–152015–16pRSE2016–17y
Total cash receipts$404,270505,700(5)551,000
Total cash costs$288,240318,000(5)329,000
Farm cash income$116,030187,700(8)222,000
Farms with negative farm cash income%2117(18)11
Farm business profit$–48,54071,600(23)144,000
Profit at full equity
– excluding cap. appreciation$–3,360111,100(15)180,000
– including cap. appreciation$92,340433,400(8)na
Farm capital at 30 June a$5,242,9805,519,200(4)na
Net capital additions$–19,27081,200(32)na
Farm debt at 30 June b$701,900637,300(8)607,000
Change in debt – 1 July to 30 June b%11(310)–2
Equity at 30 June bc$4,219,8104,402,800(5)na
Equity ratio bd%8687(1)na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b$185,320181,900(10)na
Farm management deposits (FMDs) at 30 June b$44,35048,500(16)na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b%2227(15)na
Rate of return e
– excluding cap. appreciation%–0.12.2(14)3.3
– including cap. appreciation%1.88.4(7)na
Off-farm income of owner manager and spouse b$40,84047,000(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 Queensland broadacre farms, by region, 2014–15 to 2016–17
average per farm

RegionUnit2014–152015–16pRSE2016–17y
311: QLD Cape York and the Gulf$321,880424,200(30)1,000,000
312: QLD West and South West$144,830227,600(68)162,000
313: QLD Central North$133,390209,400(27)418,000
314: QLD Charleville - Longreach$142,800252,600(23)287,000
321: QLD Eastern Darling Downs$107,830199,500(13)173,000
322: QLD Darling Downs and Central Highlands$157,070250,900(10)331,000
331: QLD South Queensland Coastal$51,06073,200(23)60,000
332: QLD North Queensland Coastal$84,400124,400(19)127,000

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 Queensland beef industry farms increased from $106,500 to $170,100 per farm in 2015–16 (Figure 2) as a result of higher prices for beef cattle.

In 2016–17 farm cash income of Queensland beef industry farms is estimated to have increased only slightly to average $179,900 per farm. Receipts from the sale of cattle is estimated to have increased as a result of further increases in saleyard prices for beef cattle, despite farmers reducing cattle turn-off and beginning to rebuild herd numbers. Average farm cash income of Queensland beef industry farms is estimated to be almost double the 10–year average to 2015–16 of $90,100 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 Queensland 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 Queensland grains farms increased in 2015–16 to an average of $275,600 per farm (Figure 3). Increases in receipts for beef cattle on mixed enterprise farms more than offset lower crop receipts as a result of reduced crop production and lower grain prices.

In 2016–17average farm cash income for Queensland grains industry farms is estimated to have increased to $402,000 per farm, around 192 per cent above the 10-year average to 2015–16.

Increased winter crop production in 2016–17 as a result of record yields is estimated to have an increased crop receipts by around 30 per cent, despite reductions in wheat and barley prices and a near halving of grain sorghum production. Increased receipts from beef cattle, sheep, lamb and wool also contributed to higher total cash receipts for mixed enterprise farms.

Total cash costs are estimated to have increased by around 11 per cent, because of the increased expenditure on harvesting and marketing the much larger 2016–17 winter crop and despite reduced expenditure on fodder purchases.

Figure 3 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 Queensland 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 Queensland dairy farms increased from an average of $91,780 per farm in 2014–15 to $137,600 in 2015–16. Higher average milk prices and a small reduction in average farm cash costs (mainly due to the exit of higher cost producers) resulted in an increase in average farm cash income.

In 2016–17 farm cash income of Queensland dairy industry farms is estimated to have increased further to an average of $167,000 per farm, around 50 per cent above the 10-year average to 2015–16. In 2016–17 farm cash receipts were boosted by high prices for cull dairy cows and other dairy and beef cattle.

Figure 4 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 Queensland 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, Queensland dairy industry 2014–15 to 2016–17
average per farm

MeasureUnit2014–152015–16pRSE2016–17y
Total cash receipts$541,550566,100(6)599,000
Total cash costs$449,770428,500(6)432,000
Farm cash income$91,780137,600(13)167,000
Farms with negative farm cash income%308(60)5
Farm business profit$–8,05063,600(31)40,000
Profit at full equity
– excluding capital appreciation$43,13099,200(20)75,000
– including capital appreciation$135,310188,800(18)na
Farm capital at 30 June a$3,595,5803,499,300(4)na
Net capital additions$83,85072,700(59)na
​Farm debt at 30 June b$1,730,5701,629,700(12)1,632,000
ne b%25(48)1
​Equity at 30 June bc$4,674,9204,205,200(10)na
Equity ratio bd%7372(4)na
Farm liquid assets at 30 June b$125,400121,000(30)na
b$32,9000(32)na
Share of farms with FMDs at 30 June b%18149)na
Rate of return e
– excluding capital appreciation%1.33.00)2.2
– including capital appreciation%4.07(19)na
Off-farm income of owner manager and spouse b$16,80020,000(16)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

In 2014–15 an estimated 600 vegetable-growing farms were operating in Queensland, accounting for around 24 per cent of Australian vegetable-growing farms. Most farms were located in the Lockyer Valley, the Darling Downs, around Bundaberg and Bowen and in the Burdekin delta. The average area of vegetable farms in Queensland in 2014–15 was around 365 hectares, of which 43 hectares was planted to vegetables. Vegetable production accounted for 8 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production in Queensland, compared with 6 per cent nationally (ABS 2016).

Average farm cash income is estimated to have increased by around 30 per cent to $163 000 in 2015–16 (Figure 5), similar to the nine-year average farm cash income (in real terms) for Queensland to 2014–15. Higher receipts for potatoes were partly offset by lower receipts for tomatoes in 2015–16..

Table 4 Selected physical and financial results, Queensland vegetable-growing farms, 2014–15 and 2015–16
average per farm
Indicator2014–15pRSE% change from 2013–142015–16y% change from 2014–15
Vegetable cash receipts ($)876,000(15)6905,0003
Area planted to vegetables (hectares)43(18)–1040–7
Quantity of vegetables produced (tonnes)909(16)10886–3
Farm cash income ($)125,400(25)–3163,00030

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 5 Real farm cash income, vegetable industry 2001–02 to 2014–15
average per farm
Shows farm cash income for vegetable industry farms in Australia and Queensland 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 Australian sugarcane industry is mainly located along Australia's north-eastern coastline from Grafton in northern New South Wales to Mossman in Far North Queensland. In 2013–14 there were an estimated 3,508 sugarcane farm businesses in Australia (farm businesses with an estimated value of agricultural operations of at least $30,000).

Queensland and New South Wales sugarcane regions
A map showing the location of Queensland and New South Wales sugarcane regions.
Source: ABARES

Farm cash income of Australian sugarcane growing farm businesses averaged $89,700 in 2013–14. Farm cash income ranged from an average of $14,900 for businesses with less than 50 hectares planted to sugarcane, to an average of $384,200 for those with more than 250 hectares of sugarcane.

Average farm cash incomes varied across regions, mainly in line with the proportion of large and small farms, as well as with differences in sugarcane yield, Commercial Cane Sugar (CCS) percentage and regional production conditions. In 2013–14 average farm cash income was highest in Far North Queensland, averaging $120,300 a farm.

In 2014–15, lower prices for sugar and increases in farm cash costs are estimated to have reduced farm cash income for the majority of sugarcane businesses. Overall, average farm cash income of sugarcane farm businesses is estimated to have declined from $89,700 a farm in 2013–14 to $70,000 in 2014–15.

Farm cash incomes declined most in southern Queensland regions because of dry seasonal conditions and in the area around Cairns as a result of Cyclone Ita in 2014. In contrast, farm cash incomes are estimated to have increased in the Burdekin region as a result of increased sugarcane production.

Table 5 Physical and financial performance, sugarcane growing farm businesses, Australia, 2013–14 and 2014–15
average per farm
Selected estimates2013–142014–15 y
Area planted to sugarcane (ha)120121
Sugarcane yield (t/ha)8287
Sugarcane produced (t)9,88010,534
Total cash receipts ($)462,000449,000
Total cash costs ($)372,300379,000
Farm cash income ($)87,70070,000
Rate of return a (%)0.70.0

a rate of return on capital at July 1, excluding capital expenditure y provisional estimate
Source: ABARES Australian Sugarcane Farm Businesses Survey

Table 6 Physical and financial performance, sugarcane growing farm businesses, by region, 2013–14 to 2014–15
average per farm
Sugar region Financial yearArea (ha)Yield (t/ha)Production (t)Total cash receipts ($)Total cash costs ($)Farm cash income ($)Rate of return (%) a
Far North Queensland
2013–141239411,560534,100413,900120,3001.7
2014–15 y1288911,381463,000418,00045,000-0.7
Herbert
2013–14118769,018388,000291,20096,9001.1
2014–15 y121769,167373,000287,00086,0000.5
Burdekin
2013–1415710216,019682,600578,700103,8000.9
2014–15 y15611517,944707,000583,000124,0001.3
Mackay
2013–14128739,333433,800351,60082,1001.3
2014–15 y1278010,146418,000355,00062,0000.6
Bundaberg
2013–14108737,906522,900428,80094,1000.0
2014–15 y111677,486488,000464,00024,000–2.1

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

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.

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