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 Darling Downs — Maranoa region and the recent Queensland financial performance of the broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane industries.
The Darling Downs — Maranoa region of Queensland is located in the south of the state along the New South Wales border. The region comprises the six local government areas of Balonne, Goondiwindi, Maranoa, Southern Downs, Toowoomba, and Western Downs, and the major regional towns of Dalby, Warwick, Goondiwindi, St George, Roma and Mitchell. The region covers a total area of around 166,353 square kilometres or 9.61 per cent of Queensland's total area and is home to approximately 122,300 people (ABS 2011).
Agricultural land in the Darling Downs — Maranoa region occupies 142,169 square kilometres, or 85 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 11,451 square kilometres, or 7 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 95,141 square kilometres or 57 per cent of the Darling Downs — Maranoa region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 63,100 people were employed in the Darling Downs – Maranoa region. The region accounts for 3 per cent of total employment in Queensland and 8 per cent of all people employed in the Queensland agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Retail trade, and health care and social assistance were the largest employment sectors employing 6,500 people each, followed by public administration and safety with 6,000 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction, manufacturing, and transport, postal and warehousing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 4,300 people, representing 7 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the Darling Downs – Maranoa region was $3 billion, which was 25 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Queensland ($11.9 billion).
The Darling Downs – Maranoa 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 ($915 million), followed by cotton ($313 million) and sorghum ($304 million). These commodities together contributed 51 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2014–15 the Darling Downs – Maranoa region accounted for over 82 per cent ($313 million) of the total value of the state's cotton production.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 5,761 farms in the Darling Downs – Maranoa region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 25 per cent of all farm businesses in Queensland.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Darling Downs - Maranoa region, 2014–15
|Industry classification||Darling Downs - Maranoa region||Queensland|
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of region to state total %|
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
Other Grain Growing
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming
Dairy Cattle Farming
Sheep Farming (Specialised)
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)
Other Crop Growing nec
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming
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
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (2,878 farms) were the most common, accounting for 50 per cent of all farms in the Darling Downs – Maranoa region, and 24 per cent of all beef cattle 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 40 per cent of farms in the Darling Downs – Maranoa region 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, 14 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500,000 and accounted for an estimated 69 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Darling Downs – Maranoa region in 2014–15.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy, vegetable, and sugarcane farms in Queensland.
In 2010–11, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Darling Downs–Maranoa region was approximately 10,300 hectares, including approximately 750 hectares of hardwood plantations, 8,700 hectares of softwood plantations, and 850 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted is white gum (Eucalyptus argophloia) and the main softwood species planted are hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) and radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there were approximately 4.6 million hectares of native forests in the Darling Downs–Maranoa region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium woodland (3.0 million hectares), Acacia (413,200 hectares), Eucalypt medium open (382,400 hectares) and Callitris (372,000 hectares) forest types. Approximately 2.0 million hectares of the native forests are privately owned, 1.2 million hectares are multiple-use public forest are available for timber production and 1.1 million hectares are leasehold forests. Major timber processing industries are located at Yarraman, Injune and Roma.
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 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.
Areas of native forest, by tenure, Darling Downs - Maranoa region
ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013
Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.