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About my region – 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 New South Wales and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane industries.

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​​​​​​​​Regional overview

New South Wales covers a total area of around 800,642 square kilometres and is home to approximately 7,739,300 people (ABS 2017). Agricultural land in New South Wales occupies 647,853 square kilometres, or around 80.92 per cent of the state. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 108,600 square kilometres, or 13.6 per cent of the state. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 355,400 square kilometres or 44.4 per cent of the state.

Broad land use in New South Wales
Shows a map of broad land use in the New South Wales. 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


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 3.8 million people were employed in New South Wales.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 487,800 people, followed by professional, scientific and technical services with 380,500 people, and retail trade with 370,500  people. Other important employment sectors in the state were construction, education and training, and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 77,100 people or around 2 per cent of the state's workforce.

Employment profile, New South Wales, August 2017
Shows the number of people employed in New South Wales 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 New South Wales was $13.1 billion, which was 23 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia ($56 billion).

The most important commodities in New South Wales based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($2.6 billion), followed by wheat ($1.9 billion) and wool ($0.9 billion). These commodities together contributed 41 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the state.

Value of agricultural production, New South Wales, 2015-16
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous two 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 35,453 farms in New South Wales with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The state contains 32 per cent of all farm businesses in Australia.

Number of farms, by industry classification, New South Wales, 2014–15
Industry classificationNew South Wales​Australia
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of NSW to Australian total %

Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)





Other Grain Growing





Sheep Farming (Specialised)





Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming





Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming





Horse Farming





Dairy Cattle Farming





Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing





Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)





Grape Growing










Total agriculture





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 (13,059 farms) were the most common, accounting for 37 per cent of all farms in New South Wales, and 34 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Australia.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 47 per cent of farms in New South Wales had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 4 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 5 per cent of farms in the state had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 46 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in New South Wales in 2014–15.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, New South Wales, 2014–15
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in New South Wales. 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.

Fisheries sector

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 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 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, there were approximately 22.3 million hectares of native forests in New South Wales, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland (approximately 6.8 million hectares), Eucalypt medium open (4.8 million hectares), Eucalypt tall open (2.3 million hectares), Callitris (1.5 million hectares), and Eucalypt mallee woodland (1.1 million hectares) forest types. Approximately 8.9 million hectares of the native forests are privately owned, 5.7 million hectares are leasehold forest, 5.6 million hectares are in nature conservation reserves and 2.0 million hectares are multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are located at Albury, Barham, Booral, Gilmore, Glenn Innes, Glenreagh, Herons Creek, Koolkhan, Kyogle, Lismore, Thora, Tumbarumba, Tumut, Urbenville, Walcha, and Wyan.

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, New South Wales
Shows the Area of native forest, by tenure. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
Source: ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013


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

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.

Last reviewed:
26 Oct 2017