7121.0 - Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2006-07 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/05/2008   
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May 28, 2008
Embargoed 11.30 am (AEST)
Drought drops sheep numbers to lowest since 1924, crops fall by half: ABS

The severe impact of the drought on Australian farms has been confirmed by the 2006-07 agricultural figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

The report shows that sheep and lamb numbers have dropped to their lowest level in over 80 years, and major crops fell to less than half the previous year's production.

However, less severe conditions reported in some northern regions saw meat cattle numbers hold steady overall despite drops in other regions.

  • Sheep and lamb numbers were 85.7 million head, the lowest since 1924.
  • Meat cattle showed little change at 25.4 million head.
  • Milk cattle fell by 4% to 2.7 million head due to continued dry conditions.
  • Pigs fell by 5% to 2.6 million head, with producers reporting increased feed costs as a factor.

  • Wheat production fell by 57% to 10.8 million tonnes, with drought conditions in many areas. This follows near-record levels the previous year.
  • Barley production fell by 55% to 4.3 million tonnes, with drought conditions in many areas.
  • Cotton fell by half to 282,000 tonnes, the smallest crop recorded since 1988 and smallest area planted since 1987. Growers reported a lack of water and unfavourable growing conditions.
  • Rice production fell by 84% to 163,000 tonnes, with growers reporting a lack of water for irrigation as the reason for this decline.

  • Tomato production fell by 34% to 296,000 tonnes due to lack of water.
  • Orange production fell by 7% to 471,000 tonnes with dry conditions reported in the major growing areas in NSW and Victoria.
  • Banana production increased by 14% to 213,000 tonnes, as the industry recovered from the effects of Cyclone Larry in early 2006.
    Further details are in Agricultural Commodities, Australia 2006–07 (cat. no. 7121.0).