Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/01/2005   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Agriculture >> Introduction

Climate, soil type, topography and the availability of irrigation water, are the main factors which influence the type of land use undertaken by Australian farmers. These factors, together with access to markets and technological advances, all contribute to the continuing evolution of Australian agriculture. Australian agriculture is fundamentally based on extensive pastoral and cropping activities, however diversification into intensive livestock and horticultural industries is increasing. Improved farming practices and technology continue to increase farm productivity in response to external market signals.

While Australian agriculture no longer contributes a large share to gross domestic product (GDP) - averaging around 3% in recent years - it utilises a large proportion of natural resources, accounting for 70% of stored water use and almost 60% of Australia's land area. In addition, the dependence of agriculture on Australia's unpredictable climate means it often significantly affects regional economies and the national economy on a scale far greater than most other industries of similar size. The widespread drought experienced in 2002-03 severely affected the production of crops and stock numbers. The economic impact of the drought on the growth of the Australian economy is discussed in 'Impact of the farm season on Australian production in 2002-03 and 2003-04', Chapter 29 National accounts.

Until the late-1950s, agricultural products accounted for more than 80% of the value of Australia's exports. Since then, despite increasing agricultural output, the proportion has declined markedly as the Australian economy has become more diverse. The quantity and value of production have expanded in the mining, manufacturing and, in recent years, the service industries. For the five years prior to June 2002, exports from the agriculture industry averaged 9% of the total trade. However, the 2002-03 drought severely reduced agricultural production and the amount of agricultural product available for international trade, resulting in Australian agricultural exports dropping to 7.4% of total exports in 2002-03. Australian agriculture occupies a significant place in global rural trade, with wool, beef, wheat, cotton, dairy products and sugar being particularly important. Australia is also an important source of fruit, rice and flowers.

The major source of statistics on land use, commodity production and livestock numbers in this chapter is the annual Agricultural Survey, a large sample survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Every five years the survey is replaced by the Agricultural Census, with the last census having been conducted in 2001, coinciding with the 2001 Census of Population and Housing.

The chapter contains an article Australian wine and grape industries in perspective - a decade of growth. It concludes with an article Australia's beef cattle industry.

Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2015

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.