About my region – Mid North Coast 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, fisheries and forestry sectors in the Mid North Coast region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane industries.

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Regional overview

The Mid North Coast region of New South Wales is located north of Newcastle. The region includes the major towns of Port Macquarie and Taree and comprises the six local government areas of Great Lakes, Gloucester, Greater Taree, Kempsey, Nambucca, and Port Macquarie—Hastings. It also includes a part of the Armidale Dumaresq local government area in the north-west. The region covers a total area of around 18,851 square kilometres or 2.35 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 201,100 people (ABS 2011).

Agricultural land in the Mid North Coast region occupies 9,664 square kilometres, or 52 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 5,969 square kilometres, or 32 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 5,130 square kilometres or 27 per cent of the Mid North Coast region.

Broad land use in the Mid North Coast region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Mid North Coast New South Wales 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: Land use of Australia 2010–2011 ABARES 2016

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the May 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 91,300 people were employed in the Mid North Coast region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 4 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 16,800 people, followed by retail trade with 12,100 people, and education and training with 11,100 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction, accommodation and food services, and public administration and safety. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 3,500 people, representing 4 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Mid North Coast region, May 2017
Shows the number of people employed in the Mid North Coast New South Wales 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 Mid North Coast region was $305 million, which was 2 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13.1 billion).

The Mid North Coast 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 ($93 million) followed by milk ($87 million) and poultry ($45 million). These commodities together contributed 74 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2015–16 the Mid North Coast region accounted for 42 per cent ($15 million) of the total value of the state's avocados production.

Value of agricultural production, Mid North Coast region, 2015-16
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Mid North Coast New South Wales 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 1,951 farms in the Mid North Coast region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 6 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Mid North Coast region, New South Wales, 2014–15
Industry classificationMid north Coast regionNew South Wales
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region
to state total
%
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)1,39571.513,05910.7
Dairy Cattle Farming1819.31,12116.2
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing1186.098312.0
Horse Farming834.21,4055.9
Other Livestock Farming nec311.623113.5
Other1447.418,6550.8
Total agriculture1,95110035,4535.5

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
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 (1,395 farms) were the most common, accounting for 72 per cent of all farms in the Mid North Coast region, and 11 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 68 per cent of farms in the Mid North Coast region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 14 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 4 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 45 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Mid North Coast region in 2014–15.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Mid North Coast region, 2014–15
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Mid North Coast New South Wales 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 and vegetable, and sugarcane farms in New South Wales.

Fisheries sector

The New South Wales Mid North Coast region includes Port Macquarie, a key landing area for state fisheries, and the Wallis Lake Estuary, an important area for oyster aquaculture. The state fisheries operating in the area include the Ocean Prawn Trawl Fishery, and the Ocean Trap and Line Fishery. A range of species are landed in the area from these fisheries, including king prawns, yellowfin bream, sea mullet, dusky flathead, silver trevally, tiger flathead, southern calamari, school whiting, and crabs. Common freshwater recreational species caught in the region include bass, catfish, bream, flathead, and luderick while common marine species are snapper, pearl perch, sand flathead, kingfish, and billfish. Gamefishing is also a popular recreational pursuit in the region, targeting larger finfish species such as tuna, marlin, and billfish.

Sydney rock oyster is the principal aquaculture species grown in New South Wales, accounting for 57 per cent of the value all aquaculture species grown in New South Wales, with a value of $35 million in 2014–15 (Trenaman et al 2015). The Mid North Coast Region is a key region for Sydney rock oyster production, producing an estimated 2.2 million dozens of oysters with a combined value of $13.7 million in 2014–15. The key producing area in the region is Wallis Lake, which produced 1.3 million dozen Sydney rock oysters in 2014–15, at a value of $8.1 million. Other Sydney rock oyster producing areas in the region include the Hastings River estuary ($1.8 million), Camden Haven ($2.7 million), the Manning River Estuary ($0.7 million), and the Nambucca River Estuary ($0.3 million). Other aquaculture species grown in the region include: Australian bass, crayfish, silver perch, and golden perch.

In 2014–15 the gross value of New South Wales fisheries production was estimated to be around $147 million, increasing by 2 per cent ($2 million) from 2012314. New South Wales contributed 5 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 59 per cent ($87 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 41 per cent ($61 million).

New South Wales wild-catch fisheries provide a range of fisheries products. In 2014–15, finfish species contributed 46 per cent of the wild-catch production, valued at $40 million. The main finfish species landed were sea mullet, with a gross value of production of $8.0 million, followed by black and yellowfin bream ($3.5 million), school whiting ($2.6 million), snapper ($1.7 million), and sand whiting ($1.6 million). Prawns contributed 22 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries with a value of $19.3 million, with other important crustacean groups being eastern rocklobster (13 per cent; $11.4 million), and crabs (9 per cent; $7.6 million).

In 2014–15 the value of New South Wales aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 14 per cent ($7.3 million) to $61 million. Oyster production makes the greatest contribution to New South Wales aquaculture production, accounting for 67 per cent of production by value, worth $40.6 million. Prawns ($5.1 million) and finfish aquaculture species, including silver perch ($3 million), trout ($2.8 million), and barramundi ($0.9 million) make up most of the remaining aquaculture production.

Commonwealth fisheries active in New South Wales include the Small Pelagic Fishery, the Eastern Tuna and Billfish fishery (mainly supplying export markets with tuna), and the Commonwealth trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark fishery.

In 2014–15, New South Wales fisheries product exports were valued at $18.6 million. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen fish, rocklobster, and abalone. Japan and New Zealand, are the major destinations for New South Wales fisheries exports, accounting for 33 per cent and 15 per cent of the total value of exports in 2014–15, respectively. Other major export destinations include Taiwan (14 per cent), Vietnam (12 per cent), and Italy (5 per cent).

The New South Wales coast line is an important recreational fishing area, with a multitude of inlets and estuaries from which to fish. Being a tourism precinct, the region offers a number of recreational fishing opportunities, with the value of this activity to the regional economy likely to be significant. There are also a range of game fishing tournaments throughout the year, including in the Bermagui and Port Stephens area, targeting tuna and marlin species. New South Wales also contains a number of recreational only fishing areas, especially in the far south coast of New South Wales, a popular destination for both marine and freshwater recreational fishers. A large number of recreational fishers also fish in the Greater Sydney area, stretching from Newcastle to the Illawarra area, and comprising the city areas of Newcastle, Sydney, and Wollongong. Species commonly targeted in the area include yellowfin bream, dusky flathead, yellowtail, blue swimmer crab, squid, and southern calamari (Steffe & Murphy 2011).

Forestry sector

In 2010–11, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Mid North Coast region was approximately 12,400 hectares, comprised of approximately 11,400 hectares of hardwood plantations, 500 hectares of softwood plantations and 500 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted are Dunn's white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii), blackbutt (E. pilularis), flooded gum (E. grandis), and Sydney blue gum (E. saligna). The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2011, there were approximately 1.3 million hectares of native forests in the Mid North Coast region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt tall open (638,400 hectares), Eucalypt medium open (281,000 hectares), and Rainforest (185,800 hectares) forest types. Approximately 660,400 hectares of the native forests are privately owned, 393,500 hectares are in nature conservation reserves and 255,200 hectares are multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are sawmills located at Herons Creek and Booral.

In 2013–14, the total plantation area in New South Wales was approximately 390,000 hectares, comprised of approximately 90,600 hectares of hardwood plantations, 296,700 hectares of softwood plantations and 2,700 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted are Dunn's white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii), blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis), flooded gum (Eucalyptus grandis), and Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna). The main softwood species planted are radiata pine (Pinus radiata), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), and Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea).

In 2014–15, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 924,000 cubic metres valued at $115 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 57,000 cubic metres valued at $6 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4.6 million cubic metres valued at $347 million. These values include both New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Total sales and service income in the New South Wales forest and wood product industry was estimated at approximately $7.2 billion in 2013–14. The income was generated from the sale of wood products estimated at approximately $3.4 billion, and the remaining $3.9 billion was generated from the sale of paper and paper products.

In 2011, the New South Wales forestry sector employed 22,247 workers (0.7 per cent of the total employed workforce in New South Wales) compared with 25,243 (0.9 per cent) in 2006. The number of people employed includes forestry support services and timber wholesaling.

Area of native forest, by tenure, Mid North Coast region
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Mid North Coast New South Wales region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Source: ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013

References

ABS 2011, Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

Steffe, AS & Murphy, JJ 2011, Recreational fishing surveys in the Greater Sydney Region. Fisheries final report series, no. 131, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Cronulla, New South Wales.

Trenaman, R, Livingstone, S & Creese, A 2015, Aquaculture production report 2013–2014, Port Stephens Fisheries Institute report for the Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales.

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Last reviewed:
15 Aug 2017