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

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Regional overview

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 159,800 people (ABS 2017).

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.

Broad land use in the Riverina region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Riverina 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 2017

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the May 2018 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 78,000 people were employed in the Riverina region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 11 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 11,300 people, followed by manufacturing sector with 9,200 people, and retail trade with 8,100 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were agriculture, forestry and fishing; accommodation and food services; and education and training. Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 7,900 people, representing 10 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Riverina region, May 2018
Shows the number of people employed in the Riverina 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 2018

Agricultural sector​

Value of agricultural production

In 2016–17, the gross value of agricultural production in the Riverina region was $2.5 billion, which was 17 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($14.5 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 ($519 million), followed by cattle and calves ($241 million) and canola ($218 million). These commodities together contributed 39 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2016–17 the Riverina region accounted for 71 per cent ($47 million) of the total value of the state's almond production.

Value of agricultural production, Riverina region, New South Wales 2016–17
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Riverina 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 2018

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2015–16 there were 3,365 farms in the Riverina region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 13 per cent of all farm businesses in New South Wales.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Riverina region, 2015–16
Industry classificationRiverina regionNew South Wales
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region to state total %
Other Grain Growing73521.82,98424.6
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming54916.33,10517.7
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)52315.57,0957.4
Sheep Farming (Specialised)33710.03,4239.8
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming2718.12,53110.7
Citrus Fruit Growing2497.436468.3
Grape Growing2156.448344.5
Rice Growing1223.616773.0
Cotton Growing682.028623.7
Dairy Cattle Farming491.48685.6
Other2497.44,4095.6
Total agriculture 3,365 100 25,716 13.1

Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $40,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Other grain growing farms (735 farms) were the most common, accounting for 22 per cent of all farms in the Riverina region, and 25 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 31 per cent of farms in the Riverina region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 5 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2015–16. In comparison, 15 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 57 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Riverina region in 2015–16.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Riverina region, 2015–16
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Riverina region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2015–16 are included in these data. The scope of ABS Rural Environment and Agricultural Collections changed in 2015–16 to include only agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in New South Wales.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Riverina region was 96,900 hectares, comprised almost completely of softwood plantations. The main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2011, there were 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. There were 445,600 hectares of native forests in nature conservation reserves, 334,600 hectares were privately owned, 189,500 hectares were in leasehold forest, and 148,700 hectares were 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 2015–16, the total plantation area in New South Wales was 394,400 hectares, comprised of 87,100 hectares of hardwood plantations, 307,100 hectares of softwood plantations and 100 hectares of other plantations.

In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in New South Wales was 876,000 cubic metres valued at $100 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 63,000 cubic metres valued at $5 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4.7 million cubic metres valued at $344 million. These values and volumes include 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 $8.9 billion in 2015–16. The income generated from the sale of wood products was $4.6 billion, and the income generated from the sale of paper and paper products was $4.3 billion.

In 2016, the New South Wales forestry sector employed 17,571 workers (0.5 per cent of the total employed workforce in New South Wales) compared with 22,250 (0.7  per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry, logging, support services, timber wholesaling; and wood, pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.

Area of native forest, by tenure for Riverina region
Shows areas of native forest by tenure in the Riverina 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:
08 Nov 2018