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

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Regional overview

The Central West region of New South Wales is located west of Sydney and the Great Dividing Range, extending from Lithgow into the plains areas surrounding Condobolin and West Wyalong. The region comprises the eleven local government areas of Bathurst Regional, Bland, Blayney, Cowra, Forbes, Lachlan, Lithgow, Mid—Western Regional, Orange, Parkes and Weddin, and parts of Blue Mountains, Cabonne, Oberon, Singleton, Warrumbungle Shire and Western Plains Regional. The region covers a total area of around 70,298 square kilometres or 8.78 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 210,800 people (ABS 2017).

Agricultural land in the Central West region of New South Wales occupies 57,244 square kilometres, or 81 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 9,776 square kilometres, or 14 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 38,075 square kilometres or 54 per cent of the Central West region of New South Wales.

Broad land use in the Central West region
Shows a map of broad land use in the New South Wales - Central West 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: Catchment scale land use of Australia ABARES 2016

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 106,000 people were employed in the Central West region. The region accounts for 3 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 14 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 16,500 people. Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the second largest employment sector with 10,700 people, representing 10 per cent of the region's workforce. Other important employment sectors in the region were retail trade; public administration and safety; mining; and accommodation and food services.

Employment profile, Central West region, August 2017
Shows the number of people employed in the Central West 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 Central West region was $1.7 billion, which was 13 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales of $13.1 billion.

The Central West region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($367 million), followed by cattle and calves ($296 million) and wool ($190 million). These commodities together contributed 51 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In addition, in 2015–16 the Central West region accounted for 91 per cent ($72,000) of the total value of the state’s brussel sprout production.

Value of agricultural production, Central West region, 2015–16
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Central West 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 5,585 farms in the Central West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 16 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Central West region, 2014–15
Industry classificationCentral West regionNew South Wales
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region to state total %
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)1,49626.813,05911.5
Other Grain Growing1,18521.24,45426.6
Sheep Farming (Specialised)87315.63,39725.7
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming86615.52,82630.7
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming58910.53,05319.3
Horse Farming1472.61,40510.4
Grape Growing761.475610.0
Other3536.36,5035.4
Total agriculture 5,585 100 35,453 15.8

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 (1,496 farms) were the most common, accounting for 27 per cent of all farms in the Central West region, and 12 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 47 per cent of farms in the Central West region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 5 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 10 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 61 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Central West region in 2014–15.

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

Forestry sector

In 2010–11, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Central West region was approximately 88,900 hectares, comprised of approximately 82,300 hectares of softwood plantations and 6,600 hectares of other plantations. The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2011, there were approximately 1.9 million hectares of native forests in the Central West region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland (1.0 million hectares), Eucalypt medium open (296,000 hectares), Callitris (110,500 hectares), Eucalypt mallee woodland (89,100 hectares) and Casuarina (84,400 hectares) forest types. Approximately 1.1 million hectares of the native forests are privately owned, 509,100 hectares are in nature conservation reserves, 168,300 are leasehold forest and 147,700 hectares are multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are located at Oberon and Raglan.

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, Central West region
Shows areas of native forest by tenure in the Central West region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraphs.
Source: ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013

References

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

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Last reviewed:
16 Oct 2017