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 New England and North West region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane industries.
The New England and North West region of New South Wales is located in the north of the state and west of the Great Dividing Range, including the tableland areas around Armidale and north to the Queensland border. The region comprises the twelve local government areas of Glen Innes Severn, Gunnedah, Guyra, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Tamworth Regional, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha, and most of the Armidale Dumaresq local government area. The region covers a total area of around 99,145 square kilometres or 12.4 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 176,200 people (ABS 2011).
Agricultural land in the New England and North West region occupies 79,364 square kilometres, or 80 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 14,434 square kilometres, or 15 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 39,187 square kilometres or 40 per cent of the New England and North West region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 82,800 people were employed in the New England and North West region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 9 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 11,600 people, followed by accommodation and food services, and education and training with 8,300 people each. Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the fourth largest employment sector with 7,600 people, representing 9 per cent of the region's workforce. Other important employment sectors in the region were public administration and safety, and other services.
Value of agricultural production
In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the New England and North West region was $2.1 billion, which was 18 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($12.1 billion).
The New England and North West 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 ($679 million), followed by wheat ($318 million) and cotton ($272 million). These commodities together contributed 60 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2014–15 the New England and North West region accounted for 88 per cent ($158,000) of the total value of the state's sorghum production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 5,699 farms in the New England and North 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, New England and North West region, 2014–15
New England and North West region
New South Wales
Number of farms
% of Region
Number of farms
Contribution of region to state total %
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming
Other Grain Growing
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming
Sheep Farming (Specialised)
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
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (2,752 farms) were the most common, accounting for 48 per cent of all farms in the New England and North West region, and 21 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 43 per cent of farms in the New England and North West region 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, 6 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 New England and North West 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 New England and North West region was approximately 30,600 hectares, comprised of approximately 17,000 hectares of hardwood plantations, 13,400 hectares of softwood plantations and 200 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted is shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were approximately 4.0 million hectares of native forests in the New England and North West region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland (1.1 million hectares), Eucalypt medium open (942,000 hectares), Callitris (540,900 hectares) and Rainforest (106,100 hectares) forest types. Approximately 2.4 million hectares of the native forests are privately owned, 809,800 hectares are in nature conservation reserves and 392,600 hectares are multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are located at Urbenville, Walcha and Glen Innes.
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.
ABS 2011, Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.