7121.0 - Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2002-03  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/06/2004   
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Drought hits agriculture hard in 2002-03

Effects from the severe drought have hit agricultural production hard in 2002 - 03, according to figures from the Agricultural Survey released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Most harvests were well below average in 2002 - 03 and the reported numbers were down for all categories of livestock. Major findings from the survey are included below.

Harvest production:
    • Wheat production fell by more than half (down 58% to 10.1 million tonnes). New South Wales (down 69% to 2.5 million tonnes) suffered the largest fall of all the states and territories, followed by Western Australia (down 48% to 4.0 million tonnes).
    • Barley production also fell by more than half (down 53% to 3.9 million tonnes), despite a 4% increase in plantings. All major growing states reported significant decreases in production levels.
    • Most major vegetable crops recorded decreases in production - potato production fell 6% to 1.2 million tonnes; tomato production fell 14% to 364,000 tonnes; and carrot production fell 8% to 306,000 tonnes.
    • It was a mixed season for fruit production - grape production fell 15% to 1.5 million tonnes; banana production fell by 15% to 265,000 tonnes; while orange production rose by 33% to a near record high of 599,000 tonnes.
Graph:Wheat Production, Australia, 1903 to 2003

Livestock production:

    • Recording its lowest level since 1947, total sheep and lamb numbers fell 7% to 99.3 million. New South Wales recorded the largest fall in numbers (a loss of 4.8 million or down 12%), followed by Queensland (a loss of 1.9 million or down 29%) and Victoria (a loss of 961,000 or down 5%).
    • Meat cattle numbers fell nationally by 5% to 23.6 million, while milk cattle numbers fell by 3% to 3.0 million.
Graph: Numbers of Sheep and Lambs, Australia, 1903 to 2003

Further details are in Agricultural Commodities, Australia 2002–03 (cat. no. 7121.0).

Media note: Selected long term series information from the Agricultural Survey are available on the ABS web site under 'Themes' off the home page and within the 'Agriculture' link.