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About my region – North West 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, fisheries, and forestry sectors in the North West region and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The North West region spans the North West corner of Victoria, between the South Australian and New South Wales borders. The region comprises the ten local government areas of Ararat, Buloke, Gannawarra, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Mildura, Northern Grampians, Swan Hill, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack, part of Pyrenees, and the major regional centres of Ararat, Horsham and Mildura. The region covers a total area of around 78,072 square kilometres or 34.33 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 151,600 people (ABS 2017).

Agricultural land in the North West region occupies 52,357 square kilometres, or 67 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 19,970 square kilometres, or 26 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is dryland cropping, which occupies 31,040 square kilometres or 40 per cent of the North West region.

Broad land use in the North West region
Shows a map of broad land use in the North West 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: 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 78,300 people were employed in the North West region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 15 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the largest employment sector with 14,500 people, representing 18 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 12,500 people, followed by retail trade with 8,400 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; education and training; and manufacturing.

Employment profile, North West region, May 2018
Shows the number of people employed in the Greater Adelaide 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 North West region was $4.1 billion, which was 29 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($14 billion).

The North West region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($763 million), followed by barley ($450 million) and sheep and lambs ($395 million). These commodities together contributed 39 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2016–17 the North West region accounted for 100 per cent ($4 million) of the total value of Victoria's melons production.

Value of agricultural production, North West 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 4,372 farms in the North West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 21 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.

Number of farms, by industry classification, North West region, 2015–16

Industry classification

North West region

Victoria

Number of farms

% of Region

Number of farms

Contribution of region to state total %

Other Grain Growing

    1,466

33.5

     2,076

70.6

Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming

       839

19.2

     1,796

46.7

Sheep Farming (Specialised)

       641

14.7

     2,797

22.9

Grape Growing

       572

13.1

         838

68.2

Dairy Cattle Farming

       200

4.6

     4,316

4.6

Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)

       104

2.4

     4,291

2.4

Other Crop Growing nec

          77

1.8

         371

20.8

Stone Fruit Growing

          75

1.7

         199

37.8

Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming

          72

1.7

     1,245

5.8

Citrus Fruit Growing

          66

1.5

           81

81.7

Other

       260

5.9

     2,523

10.3

Total agriculture

4,372

100

20,532

21.3

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. nec Not elsewhere classified.
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. Other grain growing farms (1,466 farms) were the most common, accounting for 34 per cent of all farms in the North West region, and 71 per cent of all grain growing 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 22 per cent of farms in the North West region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for 4 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 48 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the North West region in 2015–16.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, North West region, 2015–16
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Adelaide 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 Victoria.

Forestry sector

In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the North West region was 35,100 hectares, comprised of 26,700 hectares of hardwood plantations and 8,400 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2011, there were 1.9 million hectares of native forests in the North West region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt mallee woodland (1.1 million hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (316,000 hectares), Casuarina (143,600 hectares) and Eucalypt medium open (102,700 hectares) forest types. There were 1.3 million hectares native forests in nature conservation reserves, 242,600 hectares were privately managed and 279,700 hectares were in multiple-use public forests available for timber production. Timber processing industries are located at Koondrook.

In 2015–16, the total plantation area in Victoria was 423,000 hectares, comprised of 199,000 hectares of hardwood plantations, 223,300 hectares of softwood plantations and 800 hectares of other plantations.

In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 1.3 million cubic metres valued at $112 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 2.8 million cubic metres valued at $194 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 4 million cubic metres valued at $293 million.

The sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Victoria was estimated at $3.4 billion in 2015–16. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2015−16.

In 2016, the Victorian forestry sector employed 16,713 workers (0.6 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 21,825 (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.

Areas of native forest, by tenure, North West region
Shows areas of native forest, by tenure, in the North West region of Victoria. The figure is discussed in the previous 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.

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Last reviewed:
18 Sep 2018