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About my region – South-East South Australia

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​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 South Australia – South East region and the recent financial performance of the South Australian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The South Australia – South East region stretches from the area adjacent to the Victorian border to Kangaroo Island in the west. The region comprises nineteen local government areas and the major regional centres of Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge, Naracoorte and Renmark. The region covers a total area of around 65,450 square kilometres or 6.7 per cent of South Australia's total area and is home to approximately 189,800 people (ABS 2017).

Agricultural land in the South Australia – South East region occupies 48,368 square kilometres, or 74 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 12,725 square kilometres, or 19.5 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 31,800 square kilometres or 49 per cent of the South Australia – South East region.

Broad land use in the South Australia – South East region
Shows a map of broad land use in the South Australia – South East 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. Map of Australia shows that the South East region of South Australia stretches from the area adjacent to the Victorian boarder to Kangaroo Island in the west and includes the major regional centres of Keith, Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge, Naracoorte and Renmark. 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 92,500 people were employed in the South Australia – South East region. The South Australia – South East region accounts for 11 per cent of total employment in South Australia and 40 per cent of all people employed in the South Australian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 15,900 people, representing 17 per cent of the region's workforce, followed by health care and social assistance; and retail trade with 11,700 people in each sector. Other important employment sectors in the region were manufacturing; education and training; and accommodation and food services.

Employment profile, South Australia – South East region, May 2018
Shows the number of people employed in the South Australia 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 South Australia – South East region was $3.4 billion, which was 47 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in South Australia ($7.2 billion).

The South Australia – South East region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the South Australia – South East region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($432 million), followed by wine grapes ($411 million) and sheep and lambs ($281 million). These commodities together contributed 33 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2016–17 the South Australia – South East region accounted for 100 per cent of the total value ($163 million) of South Australia's oranges production.

Value of agricultural production, South Australia – South East region, 2016–17
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous three 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 4,433 farms in the South Australia – South East region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 47 per cent of all farm businesses in South Australia.

Number of farms, by industry classification, South Australia – South East region, 2015–16
Industry classificationSouth East regionSouth Australia
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region to state total %
Sheep Farming (Specialised) 853 19.2 1,666 51.2
Grape Growing 741 16.7 1,361 54.4
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised) 582 13.1 779 74.7
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming 543 12.3 1,330 40.8
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming 488 11.0 588 82.9
Other Grain Growing 365 8.2 1,986 18.4
Dairy Cattle Farming 231 5.2 280 82.5
Citrus Fruit Growing 144 3.3 147 98.4
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors) 106 2.4 271 39.3
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing 62 1.4 91 68.5
Other318 7.2 873 36.4
Total agriculture 4,433 100 9,371 47.3

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. Sheep farms (853) were the most common, accounting for 19 per cent of all farms in the South Australia – South East region, and 51 per cent of all beef cattle farms in South Australia.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 29 per cent of farms in the South Australia – South East 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, 14 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 55 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the South Australia – South East region in 2015–16.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, South Australia – South East region, 2015–16
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the South Australia – South East 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, dairy and vegetable farms in South Australia.

Fisheries sector

The South Australia – South East region has an extensive seafood industry including wild–catch and aquaculture. King George whiting and Snapper are two primary target species of recreational, commercial and charter fishers in the region. Other popular wild–catch species include, abalone, southern rock lobster, giant crab, sardine found throughout the coast of the region with blue crabs and western king prawns found mostly in Gulf St Vincent.

Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, oysters, abalone and mussel aquaculture are produced in this region. Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout aquaculture is concentrated on the southeast coast of Cape Jaffa and Rivoli Bay, while oysters, mussel and abalone farming operating mostly around Kangaroo Island.

In 2014–15 the gross value of South Australia's fisheries production was around $468 million, an increase of 19 per cent ($76 million) from 2013–14. South Australia contributed 17 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 51 per cent ($240 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 49 per cent ($227 million).

South Australia's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by four main products—Southern rock lobster, prawns, abalone and Australian sardines—which account for 52 per cent, 15 per cent, 11 per cent and 9 per cent respectively of the total value of wild-caught production in 2014–15. Over the last decade the real value of South Australia's wild-caught fisheries products has increased by 1 per cent to $240 million (2014–15). The product for which the real value of production increased most over the past decade are wild-caught rock lobster, increasing by $38 million. A large proportion of abalone is exported, mostly to Hong Kong, China and Japan. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of abalone exports and, in turn, production. Prawns are mostly sold in the domestic market, where competition from imports has placed significant downward pressure on prices in recent years.

Most Australian sardine production is used as a high quality feed in tuna ranching operations located off Port Lincoln in South Australia. A small portion also goes toward human consumption, the recreational fishing bait market and premium brands of pet food.

In 2014–15 the value of South Australia's aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 25 per cent from $181 million in 2013–14 to $227 million in 2014–15. Southern bluefin tuna is the single most valuable species in the region and South Australia's aquaculture industry, and is ranched by the Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna fishery for fattening in sea cages at Port Lincoln. Southern bluefin tuna accounted for 57 per cent (131 million) of the value of South Australian aquaculture production, followed by oysters (12 per cent; $28 million) and abalone (5 per cent; $11 million).

Commonwealth fisheries active in waters off South Australia include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or flake to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery and the Great Australian Bight sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery harvesting mainly redfish and flathead. The Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) also operates in the waters off South Australia.

In 2014–15, South Australia's fisheries product exports were valued at $244 million. The main export products include tuna, Southern rock lobster and abalone. Japan and Vietnam are the major destinations for South Australian fisheries exports, accounting for 52 per cent and 28 per cent of the total value of exports in 2014–15, respectively. Other major export destinations include Hong Kong (12 per cent) and Singapore (2 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in South Australia with an estimated 236,000 South Australians (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to October 2007 (PIRSA 2010). In its survey of recreational fishers in South Australia PIRSA (2010) found that most fishing effort is directed to the Gulf St. Vincent and Kangaroo Island waters (42 per cent), followed by Spencer Gulf (27 per cent), West Coast (11 per cent) and the South East waters (7 per cent). Most (87 per cent) fishing effort occurred in marine waters, including estuaries, and inshore and offshore waters. The remaining 13 per cent of effort was in freshwater activity, with the majority of this effort occurring in the River Murray. The key species caught by recreational fishers include King George whiting, snapper, southern garfish, southern calamari, blue swimmer crab, southern rock lobster, mulloway, blacklip and greenlip abalone, pipi, golden perch and murray cod.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the South Australia – South East region was 167,600 hectares, comprised of 50,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 116,700 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2011, there were 679,300 hectares of native forests in the South Australia – South East region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt mallee woodland (427,100 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (107,300 hectares), Eucalypt mallee open (71,800 hectares) and Eucalypt low woodland (57,500 hectares) forest types. There were 326,100 hectares of native forests privately owned, 267,400 hectares were in nature conservation reserves and 55,500 hectares were leasehold forest. Major timber processing industries are located in Mount Gambier, Nangwarry and Millicent.

In 2015–16, the total plantation area in South Australia was 178,800 hectares, comprised of 51,400 hectares of hardwood plantations, 127,200 hectares of softwood plantations and 200 hectares of other plantations.

In 2015–16, the volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in South Australia was 1.2 million cubic metres valued at $94 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 3 million cubic metres valued at $227 million. No native hardwood forestry harvesting is undertaken in South Australia.

Total sales and service income in the South Australian forest and wood product industry was estimated at $2 billion in 2015–16. The income generated from the sale of wood products was 978 million and the income generated from the sale of paper and paper products was $978 million.

In 2016, South Australia's forestry sector employed 5,518 workers (0.7 per cent of the total employed workforce in South Australia) compared with 6,499 (0.9 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, South Australia – South East region
Shows the area of native forest, by tenure in the region in thousand hectares. This figure is discussed in the above paragraph.
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.

PIRSA 2010, South Australian recreational fishing guide 2009, Department of Primary Industries and Resources South Australia, Adelaide.​

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Last reviewed:
18 Sep 2018