7111.0 - Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia, Preliminary, 2003-04  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/11/2004   
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November 30, 2004
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Agricultural production rebounds after drought

Easing of severe drought conditions in many areas saw farm production return to more normal levels in 2003–04, according to preliminary estimates from the Agricultural Survey released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Wheat and barley production showed the largest gains, with dairy cattle numbers steady and cotton production much lower than in recent years.

Major findings from the 2003-04 survey include:
    • Wheat production increased to 26.2 million tonnes, up 159% from the previous year which was affected by severe drought. The largest increases were reported in Victoria (up 260%), New South Wales (up 188%) and Western Australia (up 174%). Production was 8% higher than that recorded in 2001-02.
    • Barley production increased to 10.3 million tonnes, up 166% from the previous year. All of the major growing states reported significant increases in production levels.
    • In comparison, cotton production faced continued difficult conditions in some growing regions with concerns over availability of water for irrigation reported as being responsible for a fall in the production of cotton, which decreased by 20% from the previous year to 292,000 tonnes.
    • Sheep and lamb numbers showed signs of some recovery from the low of the previous year. Increased lamb numbers were mainly responsible for a 3% rise in sheep and lamb numbers to 103 million at 30 June 2004. The largest increases were reported in the main producing states of New South Wales (up 7% to 35.9 million) and Western Australia (up 4% to 24.8 million).
    • The meat cattle herd was estimated to have increased slightly after the drought up by 2% to 24.1 million head - with the main increase in Queensland (up 6% to 11.1 million head).
    • The milk cattle herd remained steady at around 3.0 million head - with small increases in Victoria and Queensland offset by falls in the other states.
    • Pig numbers were down by 5% to 2.5 million head - with decreases in all states except Queensland, which remained steady.

Further details are in Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia (Preliminary) 2003–04 (cat. no. 7111.0).