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 Murray region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane industries.
The Murray region of New South Wales is located in the south west of the state, including the regional centres of Albury, Deniliquin, and Hay and the area north of the Murray River. The region comprises eight local government areas of Albury, Balranald, Berrigan, Edward River, Greater Hume Shire, Hay, Murray River, and Wentworth, and parts of the Carrathool, Federation, Lockhart and Murrumbidgee local government areas. The region covers a total area of around 97,796 square kilometres or 12.2 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 110,300 people (ABS 2011).
Agricultural land in the Murray region occupies 84,819 square kilometres, or 87 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas, and minimal use) occupy 8,563 square kilometres, or 9 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 48,190 square kilometres or 49 per cent of the Murray region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the May 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 45,800 people were employed in the Murray region. The region accounts for 1 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 6 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Manufacturing was the largest employment sector with 5,800 people followed by construction and health care and social assistance with 5,300 people in both the sector. Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the fourth largest employment sector with 5,000 people, representing 11 per cent of the region's workforce. Other important employment sectors in the region were retail trade, and transport, postal and warehousing.
Value of agricultural production
In 2015–16, the gross value of agricultural production in the Murray region was $1.6 billion, which was 12 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13.1 billion).
The Murray region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($273 million), followed by cattle and calves ($205 million) and wool ($129 million). These commodities together contributed 39 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. Additionally, in 2015–16 the Murray region accounted for 97 per cent ($62 million) of the total value of the state's grape (excluding wine grapes) production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 2,692 farms in the Murray region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 8 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Murray region, 2014–15
|Industry classification||Murray region||New South Wales|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||391||14.5||13,059||3.0|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||340||12.6||2,826||12.0|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||265||9.9||3,397||7.8|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||116||4.3||1,121||10.3|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||109||4.1||3,053||3.6|
|Citrus Fruit Growing||80||3.0||425||18.8|
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. Grain farms (779 farms) were the most common, accounting for 29 per cent of all farms in the Murray region, and 18 per cent of all grain 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 24 per cent of farms in the Murray region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 1 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 $1 million and accounted for an estimated 51 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Murray region in 2014–15.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy, vegetable and sugarcane farms in
New South Wales.
In 2010–11, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Murray region was approximately 24,000 hectares, comprised almost completely of softwood plantations. The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were approximately 1.3 million hectares of native forests in the Murray region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt mallee open (537,000 hectares), Eucalypt medium open (204,800 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (215,700 hectares), Eucalypt mallee woodland (150,600 hectares) and Casuarina (84,200 hectares) forest types. Approximately 774,100 hectares of the native forests are leasehold forest, 273,600 hectares are privately owned, 182,600 hectares are in nature conservation reserves and 51,700 hectares are multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing facilities are located at Albury and Barham.
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.
Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.