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.

[expand all]

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 147,400 people (ABS 2011).

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: Land use of Australia 2010–2011 ABARES 2016

Employment

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the February 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 67,600 people were employed in the North West region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 11 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing and was the largest employment sector with 9,800 people , representing 14 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 8,600 people, followed by retail trade with 7,800 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were, construction, education and training, and accommodation and food services.

Employment profile, North West region, February 2017
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 2017

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2014–15, the gross value of agricultural production in the North West region was $3 billion, which was 23 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($13.1 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 ($446 million), followed by almonds ($401 million) and sheep and lambs ($373 million). These commodities together contributed 41 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2014–15 the North West region accounted for 99.7 per cent ($213 million) of the total value of Victoria's other grapes production.

Value of agricultural production, North West region, 2014–15
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 2016

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2014–15 there were 5,318 farms in the North West region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $5,000 or more. The region contains 20 per cent of all farm businesses in Victoria.

Number of farms, by industry classification, North West region, 2014–15
Industry classificationNorth West regionVictoria
Number of farms% of RegionNumber of farmsContribution of region to state total %

Other Grain Growing

1,990

37.4

2,939

67.7

Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming

982

18.5

2,160

45.4

Grape Growing

751

14.1

1,131

66.4

Sheep Farming (Specialised)

612

11.5

2,987

20.5

Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)

248

4.7

7,740

3.2

Dairy Cattle Farming

225

4.2

4,711

4.8

Citrus Fruit Growing

87

1.6

103

84.5

Stone Fruit Growing

57

1.1

162

35.3

Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming

53

1.0

1,415

3.8

Other

313

5.9

3,223

9.7

Total agriculture

5,318

100

26,571

20.0

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. Grain growing farms (1,990 farms) were the most common, accounting for 37 per cent of all farms in the North West region, and 68 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 18 per cent of farms in the North West region had an EVAO of less than $50,000. These farms accounted for 1 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2014–15. In comparison, 11 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 2014–15.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, North West region, 2014–15
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Adelaide 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, dairy and vegetable farms in Victoria.

Forestry sector

In 2010–11, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the North West region was approximately 35,300 hectares, comprised of approximately 26,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 8,500 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted in the North West region is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).

In 2011, there were approximately 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. The majority of the native forests are in nature conservation reserves (1.3 million hectares), while 242,600 hectares are privately managed and 279,700 hectares are multiple-use public forest available for timber production. Timber processing industries are located at Koondrook.

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.

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 2011, Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

Last reviewed:
16 May 2017