7111.0 - Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia, Preliminary, 2002-03  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/11/2003   
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Drought hits wheat production and sheep numbers

Severe drought contributed to a fall in the production of a number of key agricultural commodities in 2002–03, according to preliminary estimates from the Agricultural Survey released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Major findings from the survey include:
  • Wheat production fell to 10.1 million tonnes, down 59% from the previous year. The largest falls were reported in Western Australia (down 49% to 4.0 million tonnes), New South Wales (down 68% to 2.5 million tonnes) and South Australia (down 58% to 2.0 million tonnes);
  • Sheep and lamb numbers dropped to their lowest level since 1947. The 2002–03 preliminary estimates showed a 7% drop on last year, down to 98.4 million. The largest falls were reported in New South Wales (down 11% to 34.1 million), Victoria (down 5% to 20.2 million) and Queensland (down 34% to 4.4 million);
  • Barley production fell by 55% to 3.7 million tonnes, despite increased plantings in some regions. All of the major growing states reported significant decreases in production levels; and
  • Estimates indicated that cattle numbers remained relatively constant. Milk cattle at 30 June 2003 were estimated at 3.1 million and meat cattle were estimated at 24.1 million.

Further details are in Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia (Preliminary) 2002–03 (cat. no. 7111.0).