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 August 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 69,400 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 was the largest employment sector with 10,700 people, representing 15 per cent of the region's workforce. Health care and social assistance was the second largest employment sector with 9,700 people, followed by retail trade with 6,900 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were accommodation and food services, education and training, and construction.
Value of agricultural production
In 2015–16, 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 almonds ($507 million), followed by sheep and lambs ($343 million) and grapes (excluding wine grapes) ($328 million). These commodities together contributed 39 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2015–16 the North West region accounted for 100 per cent of the total value of Victoria's grape (excluding wine grape) production.
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 classification||North West region||Victoria|
|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)
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
Dairy Cattle Farming
Citrus Fruit Growing
Stone Fruit Growing
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming
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 2016
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.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy and vegetable farms in Victoria.
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 regionSource :ABARES Australia's State of the Forests Report 2013