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Vegetable industry

​​​​​​The Australian vegetable–growing sector is an important source of food. It supplies most of the fresh vegetables consumed in Australia and provides inputs for the processed vegetable products consumed in Australia or exported.

Around 4 per cent of all Australian farms grew vegetables for human consumption in 2016–17 (ABS 2018a). Vegetable growing is the fourth–highest value agricultural industry in Australia, accounting for around 6 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production ($3.9 billion) in 2016–17. Vegetable exports contributed about 1 per cent ($354 million) of agricultural export income in 2016–17.

The results below are for farms included in the Australian vegetable-growing industry survey conducted annually by ABARES since 2007.

Physical characteristics

  • From 2006–07 to 2016–17 the total number of Australian vegetable-growing farms fell by 31 per cent. Most of this decline was largely a result of a decline in the number of small vegetable-growing farms planting less than 20 hectares.
  • In 2016–17 the number of small vegetable-growing farms increased in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania leading to an increase in the total number of farms.

Detailed physical characteristics findings

Aruni Weragoda, James Frilay and Dale Ashton

In 2016–17 an estimated 2,600 Australian farms were classified as vegetable-growing farm businesses. Around 25 per cent of these farms were in New South Wales, 24 per cent in Queensland, 19 per cent in Victoria, 11 per cent in South Australia, 11 per cent in Tasmania and 10 per cent in Western Australia. The total number of farms growing vegetables tends to vary from year to year, partly because opportunistic growers—mostly small farms—participate when prices and/or seasonal conditions are suitable.

From 2006–07 to 2016–17 the total number of Australian vegetable-growing farms fell by 31 per cent. Most of this decline was in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia (Figure 1). The change in the number of vegetable-growing farms was largely a result of a decline in the number of small vegetable-growing farms planting less than 20 hectares. In 2016–17 the number of small vegetable-growing farms increased in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania leading to an increase in the total number of farms.

Figure 1 Number of vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

In 2016–17 around 66 per cent of farms planted less than 20 hectares of vegetables. These farms accounted for only 10 per cent of total vegetable production. An estimated 13 per cent of farms planted more than 70 hectares of vegetables and accounted for 65 per cent of total vegetable production in 2016–17 (Table 1).

Table 1 Proportion of farms and production, vegetable-growing farms, by size, 2016–17
Selected physical characteristicsUnitsLess than 5 hectares5–20 hectares20–70 hectaresMore than 70 hectaresAustralia
Area planted to vegetables aha2103520838
Proportion of farms%34322113100
Proportion of production%282565100

a Average per farm.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Gross value of production

The gross value of vegetable production increased by 9 per cent in 2016–17 to $3.9 billion (Figure 2). This increase made vegetable growing the fourth-highest value agricultural industry in Australia (Figure 3), accounting for around 6 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production in 2016–17. Vegetable exports contributed about 1 per cent ($354 million) of Australia’s agricultural export income in 2016–17 (ABARES 2018).

Figure 2 Gross value of Australian vegetable production, 1989–90 to 2016–17
Source: ABS (2018); ABARES (2017)
Figure 3 Top 10 Australian agricultural industries, by gross value of production, 2016–17
Source: ABS (2018)

The gross value of vegetable production increased from 1989–90 to 2007–08 before fluctuating around an average of $3.8 billion (in 2017–18 dollars) in the nine years to 2016–17. Structural adjustment was a key factor contributing to the increased gross value of vegetable production in the 1990s and 2000s. Increases in average farm size and ongoing capital investment in new technologies during these decades contributed to increased output.

Australian vegetable-growers produce a range of vegetable crops. More than 35 individual commodities contributed to total industry production. Potatoes had the highest gross value of production, contributing $552 million (Figure 4) or 18 per cent of the total value of vegetables, followed by tomatoes ($452 million), mushrooms ($331 million), onions ($256 million) and lettuce ($234 million). The next largest crops by value of production were carrots, melons, beans and broccoli. Tomatoes, beans, lettuce, onions, carrots and potatoes were the main contributors to the increase in gross value of production of vegetables in 2016–17. While the ‘other vegetable’ category appears large it consists of a large number of relatively small vegetable crops.

Figure 4 Gross value of Australian vegetable production, by commodity, 2016–17
Source: ABS (2018)

Crop area

From 2006–07 to 2016–17 the average area planted to vegetables per farm increased by around 12 per cent (Figure 5). This was largely a result of increases in average farm size because there were fewer small farms. In 2016–17 there was an increase in the number of opportunistic vegetable-growing farms with relatively small areas of vegetable crops. This resulted in a small decline in the average area planted to vegetables.

The intensity of vegetable production (area planted to vegetables as a proportion of total area planted to crops) also increased from 2006–07. This was largely a result of increased plantings of a range of more intensive vegetable crops such as Asian greens and other specialty vegetables (Figure 6).

Figure 5 Area planted to vegetables and intensity of vegetable production, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2017–18
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey
Figure 6 Area planted to vegetables, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2017–18
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Despite increases in the average area planted to vegetables per farm over time, the survey results show the total area planted to vegetables on individual farms tends to vary little from year to year. To measure this variation, the average ratio of area planted to vegetables each year to the mean for all years was estimated for each farm surveyed from 2006–07 to 2016–17 (Figure 7). Annual variation ranged from 6 per cent below the mean to 6 per cent above the mean. From 2006–07 to 2009–10 the ratio of area planted to vegetables varied little relative to the mean. In 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2015–16 the variation was more than 3 per cent below the mean and in 2013–14 it was around 6 per cent above the mean. In 2016–17 the variation was around 0.2 per cent above the mean.

Figure 7 Variation in area planted to vegetables, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2017–18
p Preliminary estimate y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

The variation in area planted was much greater for some individual vegetable crops than others. For example, potatoes and tomatoes had the least variation and onions, carrots, green beans and broccoli had the greatest variation (Figure 8).

Figure 8 Variation in area planted, by crop, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2017–18
p Preliminary estimate y Provisional estimate.
Note: Figure shows the ratio of area planted to the mean for 2006–07 to 2016–17​.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Crop yields

Average crop yields for most vegetables increased in 2016–17, but yields varied across individual vegetables (Figure 9). In 2017–18 average yields are estimated to have increased for the main vegetable crops with the exception of tomatoes.

Figure 9 Yields of selected vegetables, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2017–18
average per farm
y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Trends in physical characteristics, by state

In 2016–17 New South Wales and Queensland had the largest shares of farms (Table 2), and Queensland accounted for the largest proportion of the total gross value of production (ABS 2018b).

Table 2 Selected farm physical characteristics, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2016–17
average per farm
Selected physical characteristicsUnitsNSWVic.QldSAWATas.Australia
Share of farms%251924111011100
Share of vegetable production%11352210913100
Area planted to vegetablesha19625325343038
Total area of cropsha34998367488068
Total area operatedha81232296217136200195

Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

​The proportion of total area planted to vegetables on individual farms fluctuates from year to year. From 2006–07 to 2016–17 the proportion of total cropping area planted to vegetables trended upwards in all states except Western Australia and Tasmania (Figure 10).

Figure 10 proportion of area planted to vegetables, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2006–07 to 2016–17
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

New South Wales

In 2016–17 New South Wales had an estimated 647 vegetable-growing farms, accounting for 25 per cent of Australian vegetable-growing farms. Most farms were in Greater Sydney, the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and the Far North Coast. The average area of NSW vegetable-growing farms was around 81 hectares, with 19 hectares planted to vegetables. Vegetable production accounted for 3 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production in New South Wales (ABS 2018b).

Victoria

In 2016–17 Victoria had an estimated 482 vegetable-growing farms, accounting for 19 per cent of Australian vegetable-growing farms. Most farms were located around Melbourne, the Gippsland region and the irrigated regions along the Murray River. The average area of Victorian vegetable-growing farms was around 232 hectares, with 62 hectares planted to vegetables. Vegetable production accounted for 7 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production in Victoria (ABS 2018b).

Queensland

In 2016–17 Queensland had an estimated 618 vegetable-growing farms, accounting for 24 per cent of Australian vegetable-growing farms. Most farms were in the Darling Downs, around Bundaberg, Bowen and in the Burdekin delta. The average area of Queensland vegetable-growing farms was around 296 hectares, with 53 hectares planted to vegetables. Vegetable production accounted for 9 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production in Queensland (ABS 2018b).

South Australia

In 2016–17 South Australia had an estimated 277 vegetable-growing farms, accounting for 11 per cent of Australian vegetable-growing farms. Most farms were in the Mallee, the Riverland and the Adelaide Plains. The average area of South Australian vegetable-growing farms was around 217 hectares, with 25 hectares planted to vegetables. Vegetable production accounted for 8 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production in South Australia (ABS 2018b).

Western Australia

In 2016–17 Western Australia had an estimated 260 vegetable-growing farms, accounting for 10 per cent of Australian vegetable-growing farms. Most farms were located along the coast near Perth and around Carnarvon along the Gascoyne River. The average area of Western Australian vegetable-growing farms was around 136 hectares, with 34 hectares planted to vegetables. Vegetable production accounted for 4 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production in Western Australia (ABS 2018b).

Tasmania

In 2016–17 Tasmania had an estimated 279 vegetable-growing farms, accounting for around 11 per cent of Australian vegetable-growing farms. Most farms were located in the north of the state, along the coastal fringe and the northern midlands. The average area of Tasmanian vegetable-growing farms was around 200 hectares, with 30 hectares planted to vegetables. Vegetable production accounted for 18 per cent of the gross value of agricultural production in Tasmania (ABS 2018b).

Vegetable-growing environment

In 2016–17 an estimated 86 per cent of Australian vegetable-growing farms had exclusively outdoor vegetable operations (Table 3). Some farms used hydroponics (6 per cent) or under-cover systems such as glass or shade cloth (13 per cent). Under-cover systems often generate higher yields for a range of vegetable crops, giving farmers more control over output quality and ensuring a more reliable supply. However, farms using these systems require higher receipts to cover the increased input costs.

Table 3 Vegetable growing environment, Australian vegetable-growing farms, 2016–17
proportion of farms
Growing environmentUnitsLess than 5 hectares5–20 hectares20–70 hectaresMore than 70 hectaresAustralia
Outdoors only%7388979886
Hydroponics%125006
Under cover%24123213

Note: Percentages will not equal 100 because farms can be in multiple categories.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Recent changes in vegetable prices and production

Changes in the quantity of vegetables produced and prices received have a strong influence on changes in farm cash incomes in the vegetable-growing industry each year.

Australian vegetable-growing farms mostly produce for the domestic market (Table 4). As a result, changes in vegetable prices tend to vary inversely with domestic production, with little direct influence from developments in export markets.

Table 4 Markets for vegetables, Australian vegetable-growing farms, 2016–17
proportion of receipts
Markets2016–17p
For export1(39)
Wholesale markets in the state38(5)
Wholesale markets in other states8(25)
Local market11(17)
Direct to processor22(3)
Direct to retail5(11)
Direct to public6(30)
Direct to food services7(25)
Other markets2(75)

p Preliminary estimate.
Note: Figures in parentheses are standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

A weighted index of farmgate prices received for the main vegetables produced by Australian vegetable-growing farm businesses increased by 2 per cent in 2016–17 (Figure 11). Vegetable-growing farmers received higher average prices for tomatoes, onions, carrots, cauliflower and lettuces but slightly lower prices for potatoes, pumpkins, green peas, green beans, capsicum, broccoli and cucumber. The weighted index of farmgate prices received for the main vegetables is estimated to have declined by 9 per cent in 2017–18. Average farmgate prices for most individual vegetables are estimated to have fallen in 2017–18.

Figure 11 Farmgate price index, vegetable commodities, Australian vegetable-growing farms, 2006–07 to 2017–18
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Seasonal conditions

Seasonal conditions have considerable influence on the financial performance of vegetable-growing farms and typically vary across the main vegetable-producing regions in any year.

In 2016–17 most vegetable growers in each state reported average seasonal conditions (Figure 12) Around 39 per cent of vegetable growers in Queensland and 37 per cent of vegetable growers in New South Wales reported below average or drought seasonal conditions.

Further deterioration of seasonal conditions in 2017–18, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland will have impacted vegetable production. However, because most vegetable crops utilise irrigation the availability of water is important. As a consequence, the impact of drought is most likely to be observed in the 2018–19 farm survey results.

Figure 12 Seasonal conditions, Australian vegetable-growing farms, by region, 2016–17
Note: Farmers were asked to report prevailing seasonal conditions during the financial year to indicate the combined effects of rainfall, temperature and evapotranspiration.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Farm financial performance

  • In 2016–17 average farm cash income of Australian vegetable-growing farms increased to around $283,600 per farm as total cash costs fell by more than receipts. Average farm cash income of vegetable-growing farms rose in in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
  • In 2017–18 average farm cash income of Australian vegetable-growing farms is estimated to have been the highest in real terms since ABARES began surveying vegetable-growing farms in 2007. Average farm cash income is estimated to have increased in all states except Queensland and Western Australia.

Detailed farm financial performance findings

Aruni Weragoda, James Frilay and Dale Ashton

Farm cash income and profit

In 2016–17 average farm cash income of Australian vegetable-growing farms increased by an estimated 13 per cent to $283,600 per farm (Table 5). This was a result of a larger decline in total cash costs than the decline in receipts.

In 2017–18 average farm cash income is estimated to have increased further by 12 per cent to average $319,000 per farm. In real terms, estimated average farm cash incomes for 2016–17 and 2017–18 will be the highest since ABARES began surveying vegetable-growing farms in 2007 (Figure 13).

Figure 13 Total cash receipts, total cash costs and farm cash income, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2017–18
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey
Table 5 Financial performance, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Financial estimatesUnits2015–162016–17p2017–18y
Vegetable receipts$1,157,7101,078,4001,132,000
Total cash receipts$1,320,3201,255,0001,331,000
% cash receipts from vegetables%888685
Total cash costs$1,068,190971,3001,012,000
Farm cash income$252,130283,600319,000
Farm business profit$112,310156,300189,000
Rate of return
– excluding capital appreciation%3.64.95.9
– including capital appreciation%4.88.1na

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Farm business profit of vegetable-growing farms is projected to have been average $189,000 per farm in 2017–18, 21 per cent higher than in 2016–17 (Table 5). Farm business profit is a measure of long-term profitability. It accounts for capital depreciation, payments for family labour and changes in inventories of vegetables, livestock, fodder and grain held on a farm. In most years, changes in farm business profit reflect proportional changes in farm cash income.

Many farms occasionally record negative farm business profits as their incomes fluctuate. Negative farm business profit means a farm has not covered the costs of unpaid family labour or set aside funds to replace depreciating farm assets. However, ongoing low or negative profits affect long-term viability because farms have reduced capacity to invest in newer and more efficient technologies. From 2006–07 to 2016–17 the proportion of vegetable-growing farms recording negative farm business profit averaged 59 per cent a year. The proportion of farms recording negative farm business profit is estimated to have been 50 per cent in 2017–18 (Figure 14).

Figure 14 Proportion of vegetable-growing farms with negative farm business profit, Australia, 2006–07 to 2017–18
percentage of farms
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Total cash receipts

In 2016–17 total cash receipts for Australian vegetable-growing farms decreased by 5 per cent to average $1,255,000 per farm (Table 5). Total vegetable receipts declined by 7 per cent in 2016–17. This was due to lower average vegetable production per farm because of an increase in the number of opportunistic growers with small areas of vegetable crops.

On average, over the 5 years from 2012–13 to 2016–17 potato receipts were the largest component of vegetable receipts, contributing around 17 per cent, followed by receipts from tomatoes, carrots, lettuce and broccoli (Figure 15). In 2016–17 receipts from the sale of vegetables accounted for an estimated 86 per cent of average farm cash receipts. Reduced sales of broccoli, lettuce, potatoes, onions, cabbage and green beans contributed to most of the decrease in total vegetable receipts.

Total cash receipts are estimated to have increased in 2017–18 by around 6 per cent, mainly driven by higher receipts for potatoes, broccoli, carrots, green peas and pumpkins as a result of increased production per farm and higher prices for pumpkins and green peas.

Figure 15 Major components of vegetable receipts, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2012–13 to 2016–17
average proportion per farm
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Total cash costs

The main components of cash costs were hired labour, packing materials and charges, contracts paid, seed and fertiliser (Figure 16). In 2016–17 average cash costs fell by 9 per cent to $971,300 per farm (Table 5), reflecting the decline in average area planted to vegetables and expenditure on hired labour, contracts paid, packing materials and charges, seed, freight and fertiliser. Average total cash costs in 2017–18 are projected to have risen by around 4 per cent to $1,012,000 per farm, with small increases in all cost categories.

Figure 16 Major components of cash costs, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2016–17 to 2017–18
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Rate of return

The average rate of return (excluding capital appreciation) of Australian vegetable-growing farms increased from 3.6 per cent in 2015–16 to 4.9 per cent in 2016–17, reflecting higher farm cash incomes (Figure 17). The average rate of return is estimated to have increased further in 2017–18 to around 5.9 per cent.

Figure 17 Rate of return, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2017–18
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Note: Rate of return excluding capital appreciation.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

In 2016–17 the performance of vegetable-growing farms varied widely (Figure 18). Around 37 per cent of vegetable-growing farms recorded a rate of return (excluding capital appreciation) of less than 0, and around 24 per cent had a rate of return of between 0 and 5 per cent. An estimated 39 per cent of vegetable-growing farms had a rate of return (excluding capital appreciation) in excess of 5 per cent.

Figure 18 Distribution of vegetable-growing farms, by rate of return, 2016–17
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Top performing vegetable-growing farms that had returns of 10 per cent or more (around 24 per cent of farms) were mostly large farms (by average area planted to vegetables) with high levels of capital investment and intense vegetable-producing operations. Top performing vegetable-growing farms also generated substantially larger farm cash incomes than vegetable-growing farms in general.

In 2016–17 average rates of return (excluding capital appreciation) were positive across all states. Western Australia had the highest estimated average rate of return (excluding capital appreciation) at 7.5 per cent, followed by South Australia at 6.3 per cent.

Between 2006–07 and 2016–17 vegetable-growing farms in Queensland and South Australia recorded the greatest overall variation in rates of return (Figure 19).

Figure 19 Rate of return variability, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2006–07 to 2016–17
Note: Boxes represent 50 per cent of years. Vertical lines represent the 25 per cent best and worst years. Horizontal line in each box is the median.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Performance, by state

In 2016–17 average farm cash income of vegetable-growing farms rose in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. In 2017–18 average farm cash income of vegetable-growing farms is estimated to have increased in all states except Queensland and Western Australia.

New South Wales

In 2016–17 average farm cash income for NSW vegetable-growing farms increased by an estimated 74 per cent to around $171,700 per farm (Table 6). Total vegetable production per farm declined marginally, mainly as a result of a decline in average area planted to vegetables. However, higher vegetable prices led to an increase in total vegetable receipts. Average total cash costs decreased by 4 per cent to around $350,200 per farm. Freight, hired labour, and fuel, oil and grease costs largely contributed to the decline in total cash costs in 2016–17.

Average farm cash income is estimated to have increased by a further 3 per cent in 2017–18 to $177,000 per farm because of an estimated increase in vegetable production and despite lower expected prices. Vegetable production is projected to have risen because of higher yields for most vegetables.

Table 6 Financial performance, vegetable-growing farms, New South Wales, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Financial estimatesUnits2015–162016–17p2017–18y
Vegetable receipts$407,520478,200499,000
Total cash receipts$464,830521,900539,000
% cash receipts from vegetables%889293
Total cash costs$366,010350,200362,000
Farm cash income$98,810171,700177,000
Farm business profit$7,59079,50083,000
Rate of return
– excluding capital appreciation%0.63.63.8
– including capital appreciation%2.47.0na

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Victoria

In 2016–17 average farm cash income for Victorian vegetable-growing farms fell by an estimated 23 per cent to average $460,100 per farm (Table 7). Total vegetable production per farm increased as a result of higher yields for most vegetables. Increased vegetable production led to an increase in average total vegetable receipts despite lower vegetable prices. Higher receipts from carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower and brussels sprouts mainly contributed to the increase in total vegetable receipts. In 2016–17 more vegetable-growing farms engaged in intense vegetable-producing operations compared to 2015–16. Average total cash costs increased by 6 per cent to $1,893,700 per farm. In 2016–17 the cost of packing materials and charges, fuel, oil and grease, freight, and crop and pasture chemicals largely contributed to increased cash costs.

Average farm cash income is estimated to have increased in 2017–18 by around 53 per cent to $703,000 per farm. Vegetable receipts are estimated to have increased mainly as a result of higher vegetable production per farm due to estimated increases in average area planted to vegetables. Average total cash costs are also estimated to have increased by around 4 per cent.

Table 7 Financial performance, vegetable-growing farms, Victoria, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Financial estimatesUnits2015–162016–17p2017–18y
Vegetable receipts$1,946,2802,156,5002,334,000
Total cash receipts$2,153,8802,353,8002,663,000
% cash receipts from vegetables%909288
Total cash costs$1,779,7901,893,7001,961,000
Farm cash income$374,090460,100703,000
Farm business profit$196,920299,800539,000
Rate of return
– excluding capital appreciation%4.34.88.0
– including capital appreciation%5.810.0na

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Queensland

In 2016–17 average farm cash income for Queensland vegetable-growing farms increased by around 33 per cent to average $274,400 per farm (Table 8). Total vegetable production per farm declined as a result of a decline in the average area planted to vegetables and lower yields. Lower receipts from lettuce, green beans, cauliflower and cabbage largely contributed to the increase in vegetable receipts. Average total cash costs decreased by 8 per cent to around $1,092,600 per farm, offsetting the decline in total cash receipts. Expenditure on hired labour, packing materials and charges, freight, seeds, and crop and pasture chemicals largely contributed to the decline in total cash costs in 2016–17.

Average farm cash income is estimated to have declined in 2017–18 to around $188,000 per farm. Vegetable receipts are estimated to have fallen by around 3 per cent, mainly as a result of a decline in onions, green beans, tomatoes and capsicum receipts. The average area planted and quantities produced for most vegetables are estimated to have declined. Average total cash costs are estimated to have increased by around 6 per cent.

Table 8 Financial performance, vegetable-growing farms, Queensland, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Financial estimatesUnits2015–162016–17p2017–18y
Vegetable receipts$1,230,8701,185,0001,146,000
Total cash receipts$1,391,5401,367,0001,348,000
% cash receipts from vegetables%888785
Total cash costs$1,184,4001,092,6001,160,000
Farm cash income$207,150274,400188,000
Farm business profit$49,350135,30046,000
Rate of return
– excluding capital appreciation%2.65.63.0
– including capital appreciation%3.87.0na

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

South Australia

In 2016–17 average farm cash income for South Australian vegetable-growing farms declined by an estimated 12 per cent to around $277,900 per farm (Table 9). Total vegetable production per farm fell as a result of a decrease in the average area planted to vegetables. Reduced vegetable production and lower vegetable prices led to a decline in average total vegetable receipts. The fall in total vegetable receipts was largely a result of reduced receipts from potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Average total cash costs decreased by 18 per cent to around $763,100 per farm, partially offsetting the effect of reduced receipts. Decreases in total cash costs in 2016–17 were largely driven by the cost of contracts paid, hired labour, fuel, oil and grease, seed, and freight costs.

Average farm cash income is estimated to have increased in 2017–18 by around 23 per cent to $342,000 per farm. Vegetable production is projected to have risen because of increases in the area planted to vegetables and higher yields for most vegetables. Average total cash costs are also estimated to have increased by around 3 per cent as a result of increases in all cost categories reflecting the estimated increases in area planted.

Table 9 Financial performance, vegetable-growing farms, South Australia, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Financial estimatesUnits2015–162016–17p2017–18y
Vegetable receipts$1,142,340771,100928,000
Total cash receipts$1,243,8401,041,1001,128,000
% cash receipts from vegetables%927482
Total cash costs$926,770763,100786,000
Farm cash income$317,070277,900342,000
Farm business profit$199,730158,200220,000
Rate of return
– excluding capital appreciation%8.96.38.2
– including capital appreciation%9.79.1na

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Western Australia

In 2016–17 average farm cash income for Western Australian vegetable-growing farms increased by 1 per cent to around $398,300 (Table 10). Total vegetable receipts decreased by 13 per cent as a result of lower vegetable prices. Higher vegetable yields led to an increase in total vegetable production per farm despite a fall in the average area planted to vegetables. The fall in total vegetable receipts was largely a result of declines in receipts for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce. Total cash costs decreased by around 12 per cent, mainly driven by decreases in packing materials and charges, contracts paid, hired labour, and fertiliser costs.

Average farm cash income is estimated to have decreased in 2017–18 by 28 per cent to $285,000 per farm. Total vegetable receipts are expected to have declined by around 7 per cent because of the projected fall in total vegetable production and prices. Reduced receipts mainly from lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes and onions are estimated to have contributed to the decline in vegetable receipts. Total cash costs are estimated to have increased by around 4 per cent.

Table 10 Financial performance, vegetable-growing farms, Western Australia, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Financial estimatesUnits2015–162016–17p2017–18y
Vegetable receipts$1,550,2001,355,9001,291,000
Total cash receipts$1,734,3701,574,8001,508,000
% cash receipts from vegetables%898686
Total cash costs$1,338,9501,176,6001,223,000
Farm cash income$395,410398,300285,000
Farm business profit$233,040252,700137,000
Rate of return
– excluding capital appreciation%4.47.54.7
– including capital appreciation%3.97.9na

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Tasmania

In 2016–17 average farm cash income for Tasmanian vegetable-growing farms declined by 4 per cent to $162,500 per farm (Table 11). Total vegetable receipts decreased by 8 per cent, largely as a result of lower vegetable prices. Onions, cauliflower, carrots and cabbage receipts contributed mainly to the decrease in vegetable receipts. Total cash costs decreased by 10 per cent, mainly because of reduced expenditure on hired labour, freight, electricity and repairs and maintenance.

Average farm cash income is estimated to have increased in 2017–18 by around 73 per cent. Total vegetable receipts are estimated to have risen by around 28 per cent, primarily because of increases in potato receipts. Increases in the expenditure on fertiliser, hired labour and contracts contributed to estimated increases in average total cash costs in 2017–18.

Table 11 Financial performance, vegetable-growing farms, Tasmania, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Financial estimatesUnits2015–162016–17p2017–18y
Vegetable receipts$468,540430,600551,000
Total cash receipts$805,130737,100871,000
% cash receipts from vegetables%585863
Total cash costs$635,190574,500589,000
Farm cash income$169,940162,500282,000
Farm business profit$47,20045,500162,000
Rate of return
– excluding capital appreciation%2.32.85.9
– including capital appreciation%4.85.1na

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. na Not available.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Farms growing vegetables under the National Vegetable Levy

The National Vegetable Levy (NVL) is payable on specific vegetables grown in Australia by producers who either sell the product or use it in the production of other goods. Vegetables subject to the NVL are shown in Table 12. The levy is used to fund Horticulture Innovation Australia—a grower-owned research and development company that invests in horticultural research, development and marketing. The following analysis covers only growers who produced vegetables subject to the NVL.

Table 12 National Vegetable Levy—inclusions and exemptions
Included under NVLExempt from NVL a
CarrotsPotatoes
PumpkinsOnions
Sweet cornTomatoes
Peas and beansAsparagus
LettucesMushrooms
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Capsicums
Other vegetables

a Statutory R&D levies apply to mushrooms, onions and potatoes.
Note: The ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey does not collect information on asparagus and mushrooms as individual vegetable commodities.
Source: AUSVEG 2012

Farms paying the NVL accounted for an estimated 73 per cent of vegetable-growing farms in 2016–17 (Table 13). Many of these farms also produced vegetables not covered by the levy.

Table 13 Australian vegetable-growing farms, by area planted to vegetables, 2016–17
Area planted to vegetablesAll vegetable-growing farm businesses (no.)Proportion of farms that pay NVL a
<5 hectares86183
5–20 hectares80867
20–70 hectares54961
>70 hectares33279
All farms255073

a Population excludes farms that only grow asparagus, mushrooms, onions, potatoes and tomatoes.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

In 2016–17 an estimated 84 per cent of NVL-paying vegetable-growing farms had exclusively outdoor vegetable operations. Some farms used hydroponics (6 per cent) or under-cover systems (15 per cent).

NVL-paying farms are on average smaller than the average for non-NVL-paying vegetable-growing farms. Around 68 per cent of NVL-paying farms planted less than 20 hectares of vegetables in 2016–17. The average area operated by NVL-paying farms was estimated to have been around 132 hectares, compared to 400 hectares for non-NVL-paying vegetable-growing farms. NVL-paying farms also tend to be more diversified than the average, producing various vegetable crops and running non-vegetable enterprises such as livestock. In comparison, non-NVL farms tend to be larger and specialise in one or two vegetable enterprises.

The average farm cash income of NVL-paying vegetable-growing farms decreased by 2 per cent in 2016–17 to an estimated $271,500 per farm (Table 14). This was a result of reduced total vegetable receipts from a decline in vegetable production per farm. Average farm cash income is projected to have increased by around 11 per cent in 2017–18 to average $300,000 per farm.

Table 14 Financial performance, National Vegetable Levy–paying farms, 2015–16 to 2017–18
average per farm
Financial estimatesUnits2015–162016–17p2017–18y
Vegetable cash receipts$1,332,5101,199,5001,242,000
Total cash receipts$1,485,8801,336,7001,436,000
% cash receipts from vegetables%909087
Total cash costs$1,209,8101,065,2001,136,000
Farm cash income$276,070271,500300,000
Farm business profit$138,700143,200168,000
Rate of return
– excluding capital appreciation%4.74.65.3
– including capital appreciation%5.98.1na

p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate. na Not available.
Note: Population excludes farms that are specialist asparagus, mushroom, onion, potato and tomato growers.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Farm business profit of NVL-paying vegetable growing farms in 2016–17 increased by an estimated 3 per cent to $143,200 per farm (Table 14). Farm business profit is projected to have increased further to average $168,000 per farm in 2017–18.

On average, over the 5 years from 2012–13 to 2016–17 carrots receipts were the largest component of vegetable receipts, contributing around 12 per cent, followed by receipts from lettuce, broccoli, potatoes, green beans and onions (Figure 20).

Figure 20 Major components of vegetable receipts, NVL-paying vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2012–13 to 2016–17
average proportion per farm
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Total cash receipts for NVL-paying vegetable-growing farms are estimated to have decreased by 10 per cent in 2016–17 to average $1,336,700 per farm (Table 14). Total vegetable receipts declined by 10 per cent as a result of reduced vegetable production per farm. Cash receipts from the sale of vegetables accounted for 90 per cent of total cash receipts in 2016–17. Sales of carrots was the largest contributor (16 per cent) to total vegetable receipts, followed by lettuce (9 per cent) and broccoli (6 per cent). Declines in receipts from broccoli, lettuce, onions and green beans contributed most to the decline in total vegetable receipts in 2016–17. In 2017–18 total vegetable receipts are projected to have increased by 4 per cent.

The average quantity of vegetables produced per NVL-paying farm decreased by 9 per cent in 2016–17 to be 43 per cent higher than the 10-year average from 2006–07 to 2015–16. This was the result of a decline in average area planted despite higher crop yields for most vegetables. Estimated average farmgate prices increased for some vegetables, including carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, lettuce and Asian vegetables but declined for pumpkins, green peas, green beans, broccoli and capsicum. In 2016–17 the average area of vegetables planted per NVL-paying farm fell by 14 per cent to be around 24 per cent higher than the 10-year average from 2006–07 to 2015–16. Reduced broccoli, green peas and lettuce plantings were the main drivers of the fall in total vegetable plantings in 2016–17.

Average cash costs decreased by 12 per cent in 2016–17 to $1,065,200 per farm (Table 14). The largest components were hired labour, contracts paid, packing materials and charges, repairs and maintenance, and freight costs (Figure 21). Average total cash costs are projected to have increased by 7 per cent in 2017–18.

Figure 21 Major components of cash costs, NVL-paying vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2016–17 to 2017–18
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

On average, NVL-paying farms generated higher rates of return compared to non-NVL-paying vegetable-growing farms (Figure 22). In 2017–18 non-NVL-paying farms are projected to have recorded rates of return of 6.1 per cent and NVL-paying farms are projected to have recorded rates of return of 5.3 per cent.

Figure 22 Rate of return, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2017–18
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Farm debt and equity

  • Average debt of Australian vegetable-growing farms decreased by 20 per cent to around $438,000 per farm in 2016–17, mainly because of reduced working capital debt.
  • With reductions in average farm debt the proportion of farm receipts needed to fund interest payments remains low at around 2 per cent.

Detailed farm debt and equity findings

James Frilay, Aruni Weragoda and Dale Ashton

Trends in average debt per farm

Debt is an important source of funds for investment and ongoing working capital for many vegetable-growing farms. At the national level, from 2006–07 to 2016–17 average total debt per farm increased by around 38 per cent in real terms (Figure 23). The overall increase in average debt has been accompanied by increases in average total cash receipts per farm. Changes in debt from year to year are mainly a result of changes in debt for working capital and land purchases. In 2016–17 total farm debt at 30 June decreased by around 20 per cent to an average of around $438,000 per farm, mainly because of reduced working capital debt.

Figure 23 Total farm debt at 30 June, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2016–17
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

In ABARES farm surveys, debt is recorded by its main purpose. However, because some loans cover a range of purposes, estimates of debt by main purpose provide a guide only.

Over the 3 years to 2016–17 working capital accounted for the largest proportion of total farm debt at 36 per cent on average (Figure 24). A further 35 per cent of debt was for land purchases and around 11 per cent was for purchases of vehicles and machinery. The remaining debt was for a range of purposes such as buildings and structures and land development.

Figure 24 Main purpose of farm debt, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2014–15 to 2016–17
average proportion per farm
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Equity ratio

Increases in average total debt of vegetable-growing farms at 30 June have been largely matched by equivalent changes in farm equity. As a consequence, from 2006–07 to 2016–17 the average equity ratio of vegetable-growing farms was around 86 per cent.

In 2016–17 an estimated 62 per cent of vegetable-growing farms had an equity ratio above 90 per cent or more (Table 15), 24 per cent had an equity ratio of 70 per cent to 90 per cent and the remaining 14 per cent had an equity ratio of less than 70 per cent. The main difference between the three groups was that vegetable-growing farms with lower equity ratios tended to generate significantly higher receipts per hectare than farms with higher equity ratios.

Table 15 Farm performance, by equity ratio, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2016–17
average per farm
Equity ratioUnitMore than 90%70 to 90%Less than 70%
Proportion of farms%622414
Total area operatedha182136158
Total area sown to cropsha405497
Total area planted to vegetablesha203540
Area planted to vegetables as a proportion of total area planted to crops%506541
Vegetable receipts$480,500919,7001,256,500
Total cash receipts$573,3001,175,4001,461,100
Vegetable receipts as a proportion of total receipts%847886
Receipts per hectare operated$3,2008,6009,300

Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Debt-servicing capacity

The long-term viability of a farm is affected by its capacity to service debt by making interest payments and paying down the principal. The proportion of farm receipts spent on interest payments is a useful indicator of short-term capacity to service debt. From 2006–07 to 2012–13 the proportion of farm receipts needed to fund interest payments fluctuated, averaging around 5 per cent (Figure 25). From 2012–13 the ability of vegetable-growing farms to service their debts improved as a result of higher farm receipts and reduced interest rates. For 2017–18 it is estimated that the proportion of receipts needed to meet interest payments was just over 2 per cent.

Figure 25 Ratio of interest paid to total cash receipts, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2017–18
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate. y Provisional estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

At the national level, around 42 per cent of vegetable-growing farms reduced their total debt from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 (Figure 26). An estimated 29 per cent of vegetable-growing farms increased their debt and around 5 per cent had no change in debt. The remaining 24 per cent of farms held no debt at 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017.

Figure 26 Distribution of farms, by change in debt, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2016–17
proportion of farms
Note: Change in debt from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Distribution of farms, by debt and equity

From 2014–15 to 2016–17 an estimated 31 per cent of vegetable-growing farms held no debt at 30 June, with a further 22 per cent of vegetable-growing farms holding less than $100,000 in debt. Despite being similarly sized to farms holding less than $100,000 in debt, vegetable-growing farms holding no debt had higher levels of farm cash income and rates of return (Table 16).

On average, the 48 per cent of vegetable-growing farms holding debt less than $500,000 generated lower rates of return and had a higher proportion of farms with negative farm business profit than the 52 per cent of vegetable-growing farms holding either no debt or $500,000 or greater.

Table 16 Farm performance, by debt group, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2014–15 to 2016–17
three-year average per farm
Performance indicatorUnitNo debtLess than $100,000$100,000 to less than $250,000$250,000 to less than $500,000$500,000 to less than $1m$1m to less than $2mMore than $2m
Proportion of farms%31221411966
Total cropping areaha2824403769140251
Total area planted to vegetablesha151217203668154
Vegetable receipts$385,000226,000387,000520,0001,003,0001,398,0004,276,000
Total cash receipts$439,000294,000504,000654,0001,214,0001,892,0004,931,000
Farm cash income$172,000101,000109,000165,000286,000428,000917,000
Total capital$2,554,0002,284,0002,495,0003,169,0004,886,0006,584,00012,440,000
Total debt$041,000164,000366,000703,0001,390,0004,187,000
Proportion of farms with negative farm business profit%58656161423935
Rate of return a%3.40.00.82.14.04.57.5
Equity ratio%100989388857966

a Rate of return excluding capital appreciation.
Note: ‘Proportion of farms’ row may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

An estimated 62 per cent of vegetable-growing farms had equity ratios above 90 per cent in 2016–17, with a significant proportion of these farms having no debt (Table 17). An estimated 11 per cent of vegetable-growing farms held debt in excess of $1 million, however only 14 per cent of all vegetable-growing farms had an equity ratio below 70 per cent.

Table 17 Distribution of farms, by farm business debt and equity ratio, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 30 June 2017
percentage
Equity ratioNo debtLess than $100,000$100,000 to less than $250,000$250,000 to less than $500,000$500,000 to less than $1m$1m to less than $2mMore than $2mTotal
More than 90%28238111062
80% to less than 90%006221113
70% to less than 80%005212111
60% to less than 70%00021025
Less than 60%00203129
Total2823227956100

Note: Row and column totals may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Debt and equity, by state

Debt and equity ratios of vegetable-growing farms vary significantly by state. In 2016–17 vegetable-growing farms in New South Wales had lower average debt and higher farm equity ratios than other states (Figure 27 and Figure 28). This is primarily a result of the smaller operating size of New South Wales vegetable-growing farms.

Figure 27 Total farm debt at 30 June, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2016–17
average per farm
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey
Figure 28 Equity ratio, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2016–17
average per farm
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

The distribution of debt among vegetable-growing farms in each state also varied significantly (Table 18). In New South Wales, around 40 per cent of vegetable-growing farms had no debt at 30 June 2017 and a further 29 per cent held less than $100,000 in debt. Only 4 per cent of farms in New South Wales had debt in excess of $1 million. The proportion of farms with more than $1 million of debt was highest in Western Australia where around 21 per cent of vegetable-growing farms held debts greater than $1 million at 30 June 2017. This was mainly as a result of large on-farm investments and intensive vegetable production.

Table 18 Distribution of farms, by farm business debt, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 30 June 2017
percent of farms
StateNo debtLess than $100,000$100,000 to less than $250,000$250,000 to less than $500,000$500,000 to less than $1m$1m to less than $2mMore than $2m
New South Wales4029214322
Victoria33261241168
Queensland211726121365
South Australia392797936
Western Australia140431391011
Tasmania84221010712

Note: Row and column totals may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Farm capital and investment

  • The total value of capital for Australian vegetable-growing farms decreased by 15 per cent in real terms from 2006–07 to 2016–17 as a result of decline in the total number of vegetable-growing farms.
  • On average, 39 per cent of vegetable-growing farms each year made additions to their total capital from 2006–07 to 2016–17.

Detailed farm capital and investment

James Frilay, Aruni Weragoda, Dale Ashton

Total farm capital

Investment in farm capital is important for the ongoing development of the Australian vegetable-growing industry. New and more efficient technologies are important for farm productivity and investments in land, fixed improvements, and plant and equipment are key drivers of vegetable grower’s capacity to generate farm outputs.

From 2006–07 to 2016–17 the total value of capital for all Australian vegetable-growing farms decreased by around 15 per cent, in real terms (Figure 29). This decline in the total value of capital can be attributed to the reduction in the total number of vegetable-growing farms. On a per farm basis, average total capital increased by around 23 per cent to around $4.2 million per farm, largely as a result of recent increases in land values per hectare and the total value of plant and equipment per farm.

Figure 29 Total value of capital and number of farms, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

From 2012–13 to 2016–17 land accounted for an average of 85 per cent of total capital per farm (Figure 30). Plant and equipment accounted for around 14 per cent of total capital and trading stocks accounted for around 1 per cent.

Figure 30 Components of capital, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2012–13 to 2016–17
average per farm
Note: Trading stocks is the value of all inventories including herd, flock, stocks of wool, fruit, vegetables and grains held on the farm at 30 June.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Return on land

ABARES uses two rates of return to farm capital—rate of return excluding capital appreciation and rate of return including capital appreciation. Rate of return is defined as farm profit expressed as a percentage of total capital. Because land is the largest component of total farm capital, it plays a key role in determining changes to total farm returns over the medium to longer term.

Due to the location of most Australian vegetable-growing farms, land values per hectare are generally much higher than those of other agricultural producers. From 2006–07 to 2016–17 the average value of land and fixed improvements per hectare for Australian vegetable-growing farms fluctuated, peaking at an average of around $21,500 per hectare in 2011–12 before decreasing to around $18,500 per hectare in 2016–17, in real terms (Figure 31). From 2006–07 to 2016–17 the average value of land and fixed improvements per hectare for vegetable-growing farms increased by around 21 per cent, in real terms.

Figure 31 Value of land and fixed improvements per hectare, vegetable-growing farms, Australia 2006–07 to 2016–17
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

New farm investment

Most farmers make new investments each year to add to the existing capital stock or to replace capital items that have reached the end of their useful life. Farm investments are usually made with longer-term outcomes in mind and based on expected returns over the life of the investment.

In total, Australian vegetable growers made an average of $280 million in new capital investment in land, buildings, structures, plant and livestock each year from 2006–07 to 2015–16, in real terms (Figure 32). In 2016–17 vegetable growers made a total of $319 million in new investment in land, buildings and structures, and plant and livestock.

Figure 32 Aggregate capital additions, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

From 2006–07 to 2016–17, on average, each year around 39 per cent of vegetable-growing farms made additions to their total capital (Figure 33). The average amount invested each year by those making capital additions was $267,000, in real terms. In 2006–07 a relatively low proportion of vegetable growers surveyed made relatively large capital additions, resulting in a much higher average for that year than subsequent years. In 2011–12 relatively fewer farms surveyed made large capital investments, resulting in a much lower average than in other years.

In 2016–17 an estimated 52 per cent of vegetable-growing farms made capital additions at an average of $241,000 per farm.

Figure 33 Total Capital additions, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2006–07 to 2016–17
proportion of farms and average per farm
p Preliminary estimate.
Note: Total capital additions is the average of those farms making capital additions.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Land is the biggest component of capital additions each year. However from 2012–13 to 2016–17 only 3 per cent of vegetable growers bought land each year, on average (Figure 34). Average expenditure on land for those making purchases was around $1.2 million per farm.

Over the period, around 39 per cent of all vegetable growers made additions to plant and equipment on average each year, at an average of around $111,000 per farm. Around 8 per cent of vegetable growers made additions to buildings and structures. Expenditure on these capital additions averaged around $251,000 per farm.

Figure 34 Components of capital additions, vegetable-growing farms, Australia, 2012–13 to 2016–17
proportion of farms and average per farm in category
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

Farm capital and investment, by state

Since 2006–07 the number of vegetable-growing farms in each state has decreased (Figure 1). From 2006–07 to 2016–17 the number of farms in South Australia fell by 44 per cent, with all other states besides New South Wales falling by more than 30 per cent.

In 2016–17 Victoria and Queensland each accounted for an estimated 24 per cent ($76 million) of the value of capital additions made by all vegetable growers (Figure 35), followed by New South Wales ($60 million) and South Australia ($46 million).

Figure 35 Aggregate capital additions, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2016–17p
p Preliminary estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

From 2006–07 to 2016–17 the share of total industry capital in each state has fluctuated, with an upward trend in Victoria but a downward trend in Queensland and South Australia (Figure 36). The share of total industry capital in New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania has fluctuated over time but is relatively unchanged from 2006–07 levels.

Figure 36 Proportion of total capital, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2006–07 to 2016–17
p Preliminary estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

When averaged over the 5 years to 2016–17 land was the primary component of farm capital for vegetable-growing farms in all states, accounting for more than 80 per cent of total capital, on average (Figure 37). Plant and equipment was the next largest, accounting for between 11 per cent and 16 per cent in all states. Livestock and trading stocks accounted for around 1 per cent of total capital in all states except Tasmania, where it accounted for 3 per cent, on average. This was because Tasmania has a higher proportion of vegetable growers who produce livestock or crops other than vegetables.

Figure 37 Components of capital, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2012–13 to 2016–17
average per farm
Note: Trading stocks is the value of all inventories including herd, flock, stocks of wool, fruit, vegetables and grains held on the farm at 30 June.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

From 2006–07 to 2016–17 changes in land values per hectare varied by state, with average land values trending upwards in New South Wales and Victoria, but falling in Queensland and Western Australia (Figure 38).

In 2006–07 a higher proportion of farms surveyed in Western Australia were located around Perth. As a result, average land values for that state were significantly higher in 2006–07 than in subsequent years.

Figure 38 Value of land and fixed improvements per hectare, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2006–07 to 2016–17
average per farm
p Preliminary estimate.
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

From 2012–13 to 2016–17 the average proportion of vegetable-growing farms making capital additions varied by state. Tasmania had the highest proportion of vegetable growers making capital additions in all three categories—buildings and structures, land, and plant and equipment (excluding leased) (Figure 39).

In all states, plant and equipment additions were the most common additions made by vegetable growing farms, followed by buildings and structures.

Figure 39 Farmers making capital additions, vegetable-growing farms, by state, 2012–13 to 2016–17
proportion of farms
Source: ABARES Australian vegetable-growing farms survey

References

ABS 2018a, Agricultural commodities, Australia, 2016–17, cat. no. 7121.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 28 August 2018

ABS 2018b, Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia, 2016–17, cat. no. 7503.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 27 August 2018.

ABARES 2018, Agricultural commodities: June quarter 2018, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.

ABARES 2017, Agricultural commodity statistics 2017, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.

AUSVEG 2012, Australian vegetable industry strategic investment plan 2012–2017, Horticulture Australia Limited, March.

Data and other resources


This project is funded by Hort Innovation, using the Hort Innovation Vegetable research and development levy, and co-investment from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.

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Last reviewed:
14 Nov 2018