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, vegetable, and sugarcane 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, Cootamundra, Griffith, Gundagai, Junee, Leeton, Lockhart, Murrumbidgee, Narrandera, Temora, Tumbarumba, Tumut Shire, and Wagga Wagga, as well as parts of Bland, Carrathool, Greater Hume Shire, Jerilderie, Urana, 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.

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: Land use of Australia 2010–2011 ABARES 2016

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 81,300 people were employed in the Riverina region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in New South Wales and 13 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 10,800 people, representing 13 per cent of the region's workforce. The second largest employment sector was construction with 8,900 people followed by accommodation and food services, and retail trade, with 8,600 people in each sector. Other important employment sectors in the region were health care and social assistance, and manufacturing.

Employment profile, Riverina region, February 2017
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 2017

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the Riverina region was $2.2 billion, which was 18 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales ($12.1 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 ($446 million), followed by cattle and calves ($251 million) and poultry ($155 million). These commodities together contributed 39 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2014–15 the Riverina region accounted for 52 per cent ($140 million) of the total value of the state's rice production.

Value of agricultural production, Riverina region, New South Wales 2014–15
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 2016

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

Grape Growing

276

6.7

756

36.5

Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming

267

6.5

3,053

8.8

Rice Growing

198

4.8

365

54.3

Dairy Cattle Farming

89

2.2

1,121

8.0

Horse Farming

87

2.1

1,405

6.2

Other

244

5.9

4,592

5.3

Total agriculture

4,107

100

35,453

11.6

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.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Riverina region, 2014–15
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Riverina region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

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 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.

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 2011, Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

Last reviewed:
18 May 2017