7121.0 - Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2001-02  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/07/2003   
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This publication contains final estimates for the main commodities collected in the 2001-02 Agricultural Survey. It contains detailed statistics on crops, livestock and livestock products, land management and characteristics of farms. Also included is a reprint of an article previously published in Australian Social Trends 2003 (cat. no. 4102.0) on living arrangements for farming families.

Please note that these data apply to the year ended 30 June 2002, and do not reflect the impact of the drought which has affected most areas of Australia since that time.


This publication makes use of a new symbol, the caret (i.e.^), in relation to the level of sampling error associated with estimates. If an estimate is identified by a caret (e.g. ^8) the relative standard error (RSE) is equal to or greater than 10% but less than 25%. If an estimate is identified by a single asterisk e.g. *2) the RSE is equal to or greater than 25% but less than 50%. If an estimate is identified by a double asterisk (e.g.**) the RSE is above 50% and is not published. Separate indication of the RSEs for all estimates is available on request.



The 2001-02 Agricultural Survey found that the number of farms fell by 4% in the 12 months ending 30 June 2002, down from 141,000 to 135,000 farms. Farm numbers were down in all states and followed similar falls in the previous year.

Although numbers fell, the composition of agricultural industries in Australia in 2001-02 was little changed from the previous year. The beef cattle farming industry remained the largest in terms of farm numbers, with around 25% of all farms. The grain growing industry and the mixed farming sector (grain-sheep/beef cattle) were the next largest industries in terms of farm numbers, with each accounting for around 12% of all farms.

Size of operations

The number of farms in most size groupings fell in 2001-02, as overall numbers fell. As in previous years, it was the number of smallest farms that decreased most, while the number of larger farms increased.

EVAO of operations

The median estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of all farms was approximately $100,000 in 2001-02. Around 19% of all farm establishments (25,800 farms) had an EVAO below $22,500, while at the other end of the scale, 11% (14,500 farms) had an EVAO above $500,000. The majority of farms with EVAO below $22,500 were involved in beef cattle farming (14,900 farms) and sheep farming (3,100 farms) while the majority of farms with EVAO above $500,000 were involved in grain growing (4,500 farms), mixed grain-sheep/beef cattle farming (1,700 farms) or dairy farming (1,500 farms).

On an industry basis, the cotton, poultry for meat, poultry for eggs and pig farming industries were dominated by farms with large EVAOs, with around 81%, 51%, 33% and 33% respectively, having an EVAO greater than $500,000.

Area of operations

Most farm holdings in 2001-02 were between 100 and 499 hectares in size, and accounted for 44,700 farms (or 33%). These farms were mainly engaged in beef cattle grazing, dairying, sheep grazing or grain growing. Small farm holdings of 49 hectares or less accounted for 27,600 farms (or 20%) and were the second main size group. These small farms were mainly engaged in grape growing, beef cattle grazing, fruit growing, vegetable growing or plant nursery operations. Large farm holdings of over 2,500 hectares accounted for 11% (14,300) of all farms and were mainly engaged in grazing or cropping operations.


Most major broadacre crops recorded increases in production in 2001-02, after falls in the previous year. Improved conditions were reported in the main growing states of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia and saw some crops produce the biggest, or near biggest crops of the previous 10 years. Delayed rains resulted in farmers in some areas missing the early planting window for wheat and canola and instead sowing barley and oats later in the season.

Graph of production for major crops, 2000-01 and 2001-02


The total area of wheat planted fell by 5% to 11.5 million hectares, with plantings down in all states except South Australia. Improved conditions saw production increase by 10% to 24.3 million tonnes, after a fall in the previous year. The main increase in production was recorded in Western Australia (up 33% to 7.8 million tonnes), which had recorded more favourable conditions after drought in the previous season. Increases were also recorded in the other main growing states of New South Wales and South Australia (where production exceeded that state's previous year's record crop).


The area of barley planted increased by 7% to 3.7 million hectares as farmers responded to the late break in the season and higher barley prices. Plantings were up in all areas except for Queensland and Tasmania, with the largest increases being recorded in South Australia (up 11% to 1.2 million hectares) and Western Australia (up 11% to 1.1 million hectares). Increased plantings and improved conditions saw Australian production increase by 23% to 8.3 million tonnes. The main increases were in Western Australia and South Australia, which had recorded very dry conditions in the previous year.


The area of oats planted increased by 21% to 784,000 hectares and was the first substantial increase in plantings for several years. Plantings were up in all states except for Queensland and Tasmania, which were both small growers. Australian production was up by 37% to 1.4 million tonnes. This was mainly due to increased production in Western Australia, which had increased plantings and improved average yields, as it recovered from the previous year's drought.


The area of rice planted fell by 18% to 144,000 hectares. This offset the increase seen in the previous year, with reduced water availability and lower price expectations for rice identified as reasons for the fall. Total production was down by 27% to 1.2 million tonnes as a result of reduced plantings and lower average yields, which occurred after a cold start to the growing season.


The area planted to canola decreased by 9% to 1.3 million hectares, with decreases recorded in Western Australia and Victoria. This was the second successive drop after 10 years of ongoing expansion following the establishment of the crop as a major commodity. The previous year's fall was largely due to drought conditions in Western Australia and a response to falling prices for canola. Canola production for 2001-02 was down by 1% to 1.8 million tonnes. This was a result of reduced plantings in Western Australia, due to dry conditions at the start of the season, and lower yields in New South Wales, due to the onset of dry conditions in some of the main growing areas.


The area of sugar cane cut for crushing increased by 6% to 426,000 hectares, after falling the previous year. Production of sugar cane increased by 12% to 31.4 million tonnes as growers again faced difficult growing conditions, with dry rather than wet conditions (as in the previous season) returning lower than average yields.

Cotton lint

The total area planted to cotton decreased by 15%, to 458,000 hectares, with the main fall being in the area of non-irrigated cotton planted. This offset the increase recorded in the previous year, with lower prices and concerns about availability of water identified as reasons for the fall. However, improved average yields from irrigated crops saw total cotton lint production increase by 1% to 675,000 tonnes.



Citrus fruit

Total citrus fruit production was down, although tree numbers were up slightly. This was a result of orange production falling by 18% to 451,000 tonnes, with poor conditions reported in the main growing states of New South Wales and South Australia. Mandarin production was little changed, with an increase in Queensland (after a fall in the previous year) being offset by decreases in the other growing states. Production of lemons and limes was up slightly with increases in Queensland and Victoria being mostly offset by a fall in South Australia.

Pome fruit

Pome fruit production fell slightly, with apple production down by 1% to 321,000 tonnes and pear production down by 14% to 145,000 tonnes. A change in definition of bearing apple trees from those six years and over to those four years and over was responsible for an increase in apple tree numbers. The number of pear trees fell by 14% as a result of a drop in Victoria, the main growing state.


The grape industry continued the strong growth of recent years, once again setting new records for areas planted and grapes harvested. The total area of vines increased by 7% to a record 159,000 hectares at 30 June 2002, with increases in all states except Queensland. The biggest increases were reported in South Australia (up 8% to 67,000 hectares), New South Wales (up 8% to 37,400 hectares) and Victoria (up 5% to 38,700 hectares). The total production of grapes increased by 13% to 1.8 million tonnes. The main increases were in New South Wales (up 30% to 452,000 tonnes), Victoria (up 17% to 514,000 tonnes) and South Australia (up 3% to 698,000 tonnes). Improved yields were reported for New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

Graph of production for major fruit crops, 2000-01 and 2001-02



The total area planted to potatoes fell by 4% (or 1,700 hectares) to 37,900 hectares in 2001-02. Reduced plantings were recorded for all states except New South Wales. The largest falls were recorded in Victoria (down 9% to 8,700 hectares) and South Australia (down 6% to 8,600 hectares). Total potato production for the year increased by 2% to 1.3 million tonnes, with all potato producing states, other than New South Wales, achieving improved yields over the previous year. The largest increases in production were recorded in Tasmania (up 6% to 350,000 tonnes) and South Australia (up 4% to 335,000 tonnes), the two main potato producing states.


The area planted to onions increased by 10% to 5,500 hectares in 2001-02, reversing the trend of recent years. While area planted fell slightly in the main growing state of South Australia (down 1% to 1,700 hectares) and in New South Wales (down 1% to 960 hectares), this was more than offset by increased plantings in Queensland (up 59% to 910 hectares), Tasmania (up 13% to 1,100 hectares) and Victoria (up 16% to 540 hectares). Marked improvements in yield saw total production increase by 27% to 283,000 tonnes. The largest increases were recorded in South Australia (up 27% to 106,000 tonnes), Tasmania (up 49% to 63,000 tonnes) and Queensland (up 62% to 31,700 tonnes). New South Wales was the only state to record a decrease in production, down by 1% to 39,300 tonnes.


The total area planted to tomatoes fell by 12% to 8,500 hectares in 2001-02, after an increase in the previous season. Plantings fell in the three main tomato growing states, Victoria (down 10% to 4,100 hectares), Queensland (down 5% to 2,700 hectares) and New South Wales (down 33% to 1,100 hectares). Total production for the season fell by 24% to 425,000 tonnes. Significant falls in production in New South Wales (down 66% to 34,800 tonnes) and Victoria (down 20% to 262,000 tonnes) were only slightly offset by an increase in production in Queensland (up 2% to 109,000 tonnes).

Graph for production for major vegetable crops, 2000-01 and 2001-02


Increases in meat cattle and pig numbers were offset by falls in numbers of milk cattle, sheep and lambs (which reached a 54 year low) and chickens.

Graph of livestock numbers by category, 2000-01 abd 2001-02

Milk cattle

Milk cattle numbers fell by 3% to 3.1 million at 30 June 2002, reversing the 2% increase of the previous year. All states recorded decreases in milk cattle numbers. The most significant fall in herd size was recorded in Queensland, where the estimate fell by 10% (or 28,100 head) to 260,000. In Victoria, the dominant milk-producing state, the dairy herd fell by 1% (21,300 head) to 1.9 million. The decrease in Victorian numbers was mainly due to a fall in the number of 'cows in milk and dry', down by 20,000 head to 1.4 million.

The number of establishments reporting milk cattle continued to fall, down by 14% to 11,900 farms at 30 June 2002. The impact of dry conditions in some areas, combined with the decline in dairy farm numbers following deregulation of the industry in 2000, saw numbers fall across all states. The largest falls were in Victoria (down 11% to 7,000 farms), New South Wales (down 19% to 1,800 farms) and Queensland (down 20% to 1,400 farms).

Meat cattle

The number of meat cattle and calves increased slightly to 24.7 million head at 30 June 2002. Increases in Queensland (up 2% to 11.3 million), South Australia (up 14% to 1.2 million), Victoria (up 1% to 2.5 million) and the Northern Territory (up 4% to 1.8 million) were partly offset by falls in New South Wales and Western Australia which experienced dry conditions in some areas. The number of establishments reporting meat cattle fell by 3% to 69,700 (the lowest level since 1993), with decreases reported in all states.

Sheep and lambs

Sheep and lamb numbers fell by 4% (or 4.8 million head) to 106 million head at 30 June 2002. This was the lowest national flock size since 1948, with decreases recorded in all states except South Australia and Tasmania. New South Wales and Queensland recorded the biggest decreases, with their flocks down by 2.4 million head and 1.9 million head respectively. Numbers were affected by dry conditions in some areas and continuing low returns for wool. The number of establishments reporting sheep and lambs fell by 3% to 48,100 at 30 June 2002, with decreases recorded in all states.


Australian pig numbers increased by 7% to 2.9 million at 30 June 2002. Increases recorded in Victoria (up 21% to 673,000 head), Queensland (up 8% to 643,000 head) and Western Australia (up 26% to 361,000 head), were only slightly offset by decreases in New South Wales (down 1% to 833,000 head) and South Australia (down 6% to 410,000 head). The number of establishments reporting pigs fell by 7% to 3,200 at 30 June 2002, with a decline in numbers in all states except Victoria.


The number of chickens for meat production fell by 6% to 72.1 million birds at 30 June 2002. Decreases in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales were only partly offset by increases in Queensland and Western Australia. The number of chickens for egg production also decreased, down by 10% to 12.9 million birds. The largest changes were recorded in Victoria (down 25% to 3.0 million) and New South Wales (down 6% to 3.6 million). Egg production was estimated to have decreased by 8% to 187 million dozen in 2001-02.

Complete list of data items

The following files contain agricultural data items (see details tab) available for client dissemination; please ring Gordon Cameron on (03) 6222 5939 or Jackie Saarinen on (03) 6222 5948 for further information:

Agricultural Census and supplementary information, 2000-2001
Agricultural Commodity Survey and supplementary information, 1999-2000
Agricultural Finance Survey, 1999-2000
Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, 1999-2000
Livestock and livestock Products