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, fisheries and forestry sectors in the Queensland and the recent Queensland financial performance of the broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane industries.
Queensland covers a total area of around 1,730,648 square kilometres and is home to approximately 4,848,900 people (ABS 2017). Agricultural land in Queensland occupies 1,459,398 square kilometres, or around 84 per cent of the state. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 215,429 square kilometres, or 12 per cent of the state. The most common land use by area is grazing native vegetation, which occupies 1,160,394 square kilometres or 67 per cent of the state.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 2.39 million people were employed in Queensland.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 311,900 people, followed by retail trade with 249,700 people and construction with 234,100 people. Other important employment sectors in Queensland were education and training; accommodation and food services; and public administration and safety. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 54,900 people, representing 2 per cent of Queensland's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2015–16, the gross value of agricultural production in Queensland was $13.2 billion, which was 24 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia ($56 billion).
The most important commodities in Queensland based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($5.9 billion), followed by sugarcane ($1.2 billion) and poultry ($590 million). These commodities together contributed 58 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the state.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 23,035 farms in Queensland with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The state contains 21 per cent of all farm businesses in Australia.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Queensland, 2014–15
Number of farms
% of State
Number of farms
Contribution of Qld
to Australian total
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
Sugar Cane Growing
Other Grain Growing
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)
Dairy Cattle Farming
Other Crop Growing nec
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.
nec Not elsewhere classified.
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. Beef Cattle farms (12,172 farms) were the most common, accounting for 53 per cent of all farms in Queensland.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 38 per cent of farms in Queensland had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for only 3 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 7 per cent of farms in the state had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 52 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in Queensland in 2014–15.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, diary, vegetable, and sugarcane farms in Queensland.
In 2014–15 the total gross value of Queensland's fisheries production was $291.1 million, an increase of 4 per cent ($10.8 million) from 2013–14. Queensland contributed 11 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 61 per cent ($177.1 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 39 per cent ($114.1 million).
Queensland's wild-catch fisheries sector provides a range of fisheries products. The highest contribution being from prawns, which account for 35 per cent of the total value of wild-catch fisheries production with a value of $62.8 million, followed by crabs (17 per cent; $29.5 million) and coral trout (14 per cent; $24.6 million). Over the last decade the real value of Queensland's wild-caught fisheries products has reduced by 32 per cent. Prawns and shark, showed the largest decline in the value of production over the past decade, reducing by 41 per cent and 86 per cent respectively. Competition from imported prawns in the domestic market has also placed significant downward pressure on prices in recent years.
The value of Queensland's aquaculture production has increased by 28 per cent in 2014–15 to $114.1 million. Prawn and barramundi farming account for the largest share of production by value, with prawns accounting for 71 per cent, and $81.2 million of production, followed by barramundi (24 per cent; $27.5 million).
Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off the east coast of Queensland include the Commonwealth Eastern Tuna and Billfish fishery (mainly supplying export markets with tuna) and the Coral Sea Fishery. The final proposed Commonwealth Coral Sea Marine Reserves network released on 14 June 2012 is estimated to displace $4.0 million of gross value of production from these fisheries when the zoning comes into effect.
In 2014–15, Queensland's fisheries product exports were valued at $160 million. The main export products include live and fresh, chilled or frozen fish, prawns and rocklobster. Hong Kong, Japan and the United States are the major destinations for Queensland fisheries exports, accounting for 48 per cent, 13 per cent and 9 per cent of the total value of exports in 2013–14, respectively. Other major export destinations include Vietnam (9 per cent), Malaysia (3 per cent) and Taiwan (3 per cent).
Recreational fishing is popular in Queensland. The results of the 2013–14 state wide and regional recreational fishing survey report that recreational fishing continues to be a popular activity; however the participation rate has dropped from 17 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent in 2013. In the 12 months prior to November 2013 approximately 700,000 Queenslanders went recreational fishing (QDAFF 2015). Total expenditure in the sector is estimated to be between $350 million and $420 million in 2008–09 (DEEDI 2009). The tropical waters of Queensland are also a key area for tourism, attracting anglers from around the world and Australia. Popular target species include crabs, prawns and a range of finfish species including cods and groupers, coral trout, redthroat emperor, rosy snapper, and mackerel. For freshwater activity some key species caught include barramundi, eels, silver perch, and yabby and blueclaw crayfish.
In 2013–14, the total plantation area in Queensland was approximately 233,500 hectares, comprised of approximately 41,600 hectares of hardwood plantations, 189,400 hectares of softwood plantations and 2,500 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted are Dunn's white gum (Eucalyptus dunnii), lemon-scented gum (Corymbia citriodora), shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens) and teak (Tectona grandis). The main softwood species planted are Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea), hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii), slash pine (Pinus elliottii) and pine hybrids.
In 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, there were approximately 50.8 million hectares of native forests in Queensland, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland (26.8 million hectares), Melaleuca (5.2 million hectares), Acacia (4.5 million hectares), Eucalypt medium open (4.5 million hectares), and Rainforest (2 million hectares) forest types. The majority of the native forests are leasehold forest (approximately 30.7 million hectares), approximately 10.1 million hectares are privately managed, 5 million hectares are in nature conservation reserves, and 2.9 million hectares are multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Major timber processing industries are located at Ayr, Bondoola, Burpengary, Caboolture, Diamond Valley, Dingo, Imbil, Injune, Owanyilla, Palmview, Peachester, Proserpine, Roma, Theodore, Toolara Forest, Townsville and Yarraman.
In 2014–15, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 259,000 cubic metres valued at $38 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 41,000 cubic metres valued at $2 million. The volume of softwood harvested, including native cypress pines, was 1.8 million cubic metres valued at $141 million.
Queensland's forest and wood product industry generated approximately $3 billion of sales and service income in 2013–14. The income was generated from the sale of wood products, such as structural wood and woodchips, estimated at approximately $2 billion. The remaining $1 billion was generated from the sale of paper and paper products.
In 2011, Queensland's forestry sector employed 12,845 workers (0.6 per cent of the total employed workforce) compared with 16,411 (0.9 per cent) in 2006. The number of people employed includes forestry support services and timber wholesaling.
ABS 2017, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2016, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 19 September 2017.
Prospects for Queensland's primary industries 2009–10, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Brisbane, Queensland.
Statewide recreational Fishing Surveys, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Queensland.