About my region – Latrobe-Gippsland Victoria

​​​​​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 sector in the Latrobe-Gippsland region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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​​​​​​​Regional overview

The Latrobe-Gippsland region of Victoria is located in the eastern corner of the state. The region comprises the six local government areas of Bass Coast, Baw Baw, East Gippsland, Latrobe, South Gippsland and Wellington, and the major regional centres of Bairnsdale, Sale and Traralgon. The region covers a total area of around 41,557 square kilometres or 18.27 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 255,900 people (ABS 2011).

Agricultural land in the Latrobe-Gippsland region occupies 11,700 square kilometres, or 28 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 11,700 square kilometres. The most common land use by area is production forestry, which occupies 14,200 square kilometres or 34 per cent of the Latrobe-Gippsland region.

Broad land use in the Latrobe-Gippsland region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Latrobe-Gippsland 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 May 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 127,400 people were employed in the Latrobe-Gippsland region. The region accounts for 4 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 20 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 17,900 people, representing 14 per cent of the region's workforce, followed by retail trade with 16,900 people and health care and social assistance with 16,600 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction, accommodation and food services, and manufacturing.

Employment profile, Latrobe-Gippsland region, May 2017
Shows the number of people employed in the Latrobe-Gippsland 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 Latrobe-Gippsland region was $2 billion, which was 16 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($13.1 billion).

The Latrobe-Gippsland region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the Latrobe-Gippsland region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($884 million) and cattle and calves ($578 million). These commodities together contributed 72 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2014–15 the Latrobe-Gippsland region accounted for 79 per cent ($24 million) of the total value of Victoria's bean production.

Value of agricultural production, Latrobe-Gippsland region, 2014–15
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the Latrobe-Gippsland 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 4,821 farms in the Latrobe-Gippsland region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 18 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Latrobe-Gippsland region, 2014–15

Industry classification

Latrobe-Gippsland region

Victoria

Number of farms

% of Region

Number of farms

Contribution of region to state total %

Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)

2,494

51.7

7,740

32.2

Dairy Cattle Farming

1,542

32.0

4,711

32.7

Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming

248

5.1

1,415

17.5

Sheep Farming (Specialised)

139

2.9

2,987

4.7

Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)

104

2.2

566

18.3

Other Crop Growing nec

102

2.1

503

20.3

Horse Farming

61

1.3

681

9.0

Other

131

2.7

7,967

1.6

Total agriculture

4,821

100

26,571

18.1

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. Beef cattle farms (2,494 farms) were the most common, accounting for 52 per cent of all farms in the Latrobe-Gippsland region, and 32 per cent of all beef farms in Victoria.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 32 per cent of farms in the Latrobe-Gippsland 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, 16 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $500 000 and accounted for an estimated 62 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Latrobe-Gippsland region in 2014–15.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Latrobe-Gippsland region, 2014–15
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Latrobe-Gippsland 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 and vegetable farms in Victoria.

Fisheries sector

The Latrobe-Gippsland region contains a significant seafood industry. The area includes a wild–catch sector with the main landing and home port being Lakes Entrance. There is also some aquaculture, particularly offshore mussel farms in Westernport Bay. The main wild-caught species harvested in the area include southern rocklobster, abalone, snapper, southern calamari, gould's squid, King George whiting and mussels. Abalone wild-harvest occurs along the coastline primarily in the bay and inlet fisheries, in particular in the Corner Inlet and the Gippsland Lakes. The high value commercial snapper fishery is mostly located in Western Port Bay with incidental catches taken in the Corner Inlet and the Gippsland Lakes. The Gippsland Lakes, Western Port Bay, Lakes Entrance and Corner Inlet are also important areas for both recreational and commercial catch of a range of species, including black bream, southern calamari short finned eel fish, and King George whiting.

In the 2000 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, this region recorded a participation rate of 22.9 per cent, much higher than the state average of 12.7 per cent (Henry & Lyle 2003). Latrobe – Gippsland residents fish in marine and estuarine waters from Western Port Bay to the NSW border. Corner Inlet, Gippsland Lakes and the Snowy River are popular fishing locations. Flathead, black bream, mullet, Australian salmon, King George whiting and blue mussels are the most common marine species targeted by fishers. In inland lakes and freshwater reaches of rivers, redfin, trout and carp are popular target species. Overall, fishing from the shore is the most popular way that residents access the fishery, but boat fishing is significant, accounting for 40 per cent of the recreational fishing effort in the region.

In 2014–15 the gross value of Victoria's fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild–catch) was $88 million, an increase of 9 per cent ($7.6 million) from 2013–14. Victoria contributed 3 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 67 per cent ($58.7 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 33 per cent ($29.1 million).

Victoria's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by two main products—abalone and Southern rocklobster—which account for 34 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production in 2014–15. Over the last decade the real value of Victoria's wild-caught fisheries products has reduced by 48 per cent to $58.7 million in 2014–15.

The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is wild—caught abalone, falling by 74 per cent to $20.2 million in 2014–15. This is largely attributable to the Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis disease which has significantly reduced abalone production in the Victorian wild–catch sector in recent years. 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.

Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off Victoria include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or 'flake' to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) and the Southern Squid Jig Fishery also operate in the waters off Victoria.

In 2014–15 the volume of Victoria's aquaculture production increased by 19 per cent (451 tonnes) to 2,870 tonnes. Salmonids, blue mussels and abalone accounted for 40 per cent, 35 per cent and 15 per cent respectively of this volume and 26 per cent, 15 per cent and 51 per cent respectively of the total value of Victorian aquaculture production in 2014–15.

In 2014–15, fisheries products exported from Victoria were valued at $177 million. This value includes State and Commonwealth fisheries products exported from the ports of Victoria, which may be sourced from Victorian waters or other parts of the country. The main export products include abalone and Southern rocklobster. Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore are the major destinations for Victorian fisheries exports, accounting for 61 per cent, 15 per cent and 7 per cent of the total value of exports in 2014–15, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (7 per cent) and China (2 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in Victoria. In the national survey of recreational fishers undertaken in the early 2000s it was found that Victoria had approximately 550,000 recreational fishers that fished in the 12 months to May 2000, an estimated 12.7 per cent of Victoria's population (Henry & Lyle 2003). This includes gamefishing for species such as southern bluefin tuna (Green et al 2012). Recreational fishing also includes diving for Southern rocklobster, abalone, and scallops and hook and line fishing for a range of finfish species, such as snapper, King George whiting, black bream and flathead. Freshwater anglers target rainbow and brown trout, as well as native freshwater fish

Forestry sector

In 2010–11, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Latrobe – Gippsland region was approximately 105,300 hectares, comprised of approximately 39,600 hectares of hardwood plantations, 64,800 hectares of softwood plantations and 900 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted in the Latrobe – Gippsland region is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2011, there were approximately 2.7 million hectares of native forests in the Latrobe – Gippsland region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium open (1.3 million hectares), Eucalypt tall open (777,000 hectares) and Eucalypt medium woodland (318,400 hectares) forest types. The majority of the native forests are multiple-use public forest available for timber production (1.4 million hectares), while 898,600 hectares are in nature conservation reserves and 252,700 hectares are privately owned. Major timber processing industries are located at Maryvale, Nowa Nowa and Yarram.

In 2013–14, the total plantation area in Victoria was approximately 433,100 hectares, comprised of approximately 206,000 hectares of hardwood plantations and 226 000 hectares of softwood plantations and 1,100 hectares of other plantations. The main hardwood species planted is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2014–15, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested was 1.3 million cubic metres valued at $109 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 2.8 million cubic metres valued at $197 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 3.9 million cubic metres valued at $280 million.

Total sales and service income in the Victorian forest and wood product industry was estimated at approximately $6.1 billion in 2013–14, of which $3.6 billion was from the sale of paper and paper products, and the remaining $2.6 billion was generated from other wood product sales.

In 2011, the Victorian forestry sector employed 21,826 workers (0.9 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 23,672 (1.1 per cent) in 2006. The number of people employed includes forestry support services and timber wholesaling.

Area of native forest, by tenure for Latrobe-Gippsland region
Shows areas of native forest by tenure in the Latrobe-Gippsland 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.

Green, C, Brown, P, Giri K, Bell, J & Conron, S 2012, Quantifying the recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna off the Victorian coast, Recreational Fishing Grants Program research report R09/10/03, Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne, Victoria.

Henry, GW & Lyle JM (eds) 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Final report to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, NSW Fisheries final report series, no. 48, FRDC project no. 99/158, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.

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Last reviewed:
01 Aug 2017