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 Riverina region and the recent New South Wales financial performance of the broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane industries.
The Riverina region of New South Wales is located in the south of the state, extending from the Snowy Mountains north west through the Murrumbidgee River catchment area. The region includes the major regional centres of Wagga Wagga and Griffith and the local government areas of Coolamon, Griffith, Gundagai, Junee, Leeton, Lockhart, Narrandera, Snowy Valleys, Temora, and Wagga Wagga, as well as parts of Bland, Carrathool, Greater Hume Shire, Federation, Murrumbidgee, and Yass Valley local government areas. The region covers a total area of around 56,987 square kilometres or 7.12 per cent of New South Wales and is home to approximately 150,100 people (ABS 2011).
Agricultural land in the Riverina region occupies 44,627 square kilometres, or 78 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 9,123 square kilometres, or 16 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 22,091 square kilometres or 39 per cent of the Riverina region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the May 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 81,100 people were employed in the Riverina region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 12 per cent of all people employed in the New South Wales agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 9,200 people, representing 11 per cent of the region's workforce. The second largest employment sector was accommodation and food services with 8,700 people followed by retail trade with 8,300 people in each sector. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction, manufacturing and health care and social assistance.
Value of agricultural production
In 2015–16, the gross value of agricultural production in the Riverina region was $2.3 billion, which was 18 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($13.1 billion).
The Riverina region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($475 million), followed by cattle and calves ($262 million) and cotton ($188 million). These commodities together contributed 40 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2015–16 the Riverina region accounted for 94 per cent ($33 million) of the total value of the state's almond production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 4,107 farms in the Riverina region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 12 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Riverina region, 2014–15
|Industry classification||Riverina region||New South Wales|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
|Other Grain Growing||1,070||26.1||4,454||24.0|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||863||21.0||13,059||6.6|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||419||10.2||2,826||14.8|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||316||7.7||3,397||9.3|
|Citrus Fruit Growing||277||6.7||425||65.2|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||267||6.5||3,053||8.8|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||89||2.2||1,121||8.0|
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. Other grain growing farms (1,070 farms) were the most common, accounting for 26 per cent of all farms in the Riverina region, and 24 per cent of all other 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 34 per cent of farms in the Riverina region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 2 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 19 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 72 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Riverina 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 Riverina region was approximately 95,900 hectares, comprised almost completely of softwood plantations. The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were approximately 1.1 million hectares of native forests in the Riverina region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium open (540,200 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (206,000 hectares), Eucalypt mallee woodland (116,400 hectares) and Callitris (115,600 hectares) forest types. Approximately 445,600 hectares of native forests are in nature conservation reserves, 334,600 hectares are privately owned, 189,500 hectares are leasehold forest, and 148,700 hectares are multiple–use public forest available for timber production. The main native forest industry is in the south east of the region. Major timber processing facilities are located at Tumut, Tumbarumba and Gilmore.
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.