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.
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.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 73,400 people were employed in the North West region. The region accounts for 2 per cent of total employment in Victoria and 12 per cent of all people employed in the Victorian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 11,100 people. Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the second largest employment sector with 11,000 people representing 15 per cent of the region's workforce, followed by retail trade with 7,700 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services; education and training; and construction.
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.
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
North West region
Number of farms
% of Region
Number of farms
Contribution of region to state total %
Other Grain Growing
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming
Sheep Farming (Specialised)
Dairy Cattle Farming
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
Other Crop Growing
Stone Fruit Growing
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming
Citrus Fruit Growing
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.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Victoria.
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 regionSource:
ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013