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Agricultural Commodities, Australia

Statistics on the production of agricultural commodities including cereal and broadacre crops, fruit and vegetables and livestock on Australian farms

Reference period
2018-19 financial year

Key statistics

  • There were 89,400 agricultural businesses, up 5% from 2018.
  • There were 384 million hectares of agricultural land, up 2%.
  • 66 million tonnes of broadacre crops were produced (down 12% from 2017-18).
  • Ongoing drought conditions limited growth of Australian livestock numbers in 2018-19.

Australian farms and farmers

At 30 June 2019 there were:

  • 89,400 agricultural businesses, up 5% from 2018
  • 384 million hectares of agricultural land, up 2%
     

In 2018-19, the average farmer was:

  • 58 years of age
  • male (77% of farmers were male), and had
  • 37 years of experience in farming
     
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Sources of farm income

Farming businesses received most of their income from agricultural production:

  • 80% from agricultural production
  • 14% from off farm employment or business activities
  • 0.7% from grants, government transfers and relief funding
     

Land use on Australian farms

Most agricultural land was used for agricultural production:

  • 332 million hectares were used for grazing
  • 31 million hectares for crops
  • 813,400 hectares for forestry plantation
  • 21 million hectares was not used for agricultural production, with 57% set aside for conservation/protection purposes.

Broadacre crops

In 2018-19, there were:

  • 66 million tonnes of broadacre crops produced (down 12% from 2017-18)
  • 22 million hectares planted (down 8%)
  • 30,700 businesses growing broadacre crops (down 3%)
     

Production fell for all broadacre crops, heavily impacted by ongoing drought in the eastern states. In Western Australia, however, continued favourable conditions led to above average production.

While wheat remains the largest broadacre crop in Australia with 18 million tonnes harvested in 2018-19, production was down 16 per cent from 2017-18 and at its lowest level since 2008. Production varied across the country, decreasing in all states except Western Australia.

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Other key broadacre crops:

  • Barley (9 million tonnes produced, down 5%)
  • Canola (2 million tonnes, down 39%)
  • Cotton (414,300 tonnes, down 56%)
  • Rice (66,800 tonnes, down 90%)

Fruit, nuts and vegetables

The 2018-19 reference period was a mixed season for fruit and nuts. Production declined for pome fruit, citrus fruit, bananas and grapes, while nuts, stone fruit and other orchard fruit all had good seasons.

Vegetable production was affected by localised weather events.

Fruit and nuts

Key results for 2018-19 included:

Increases in:

  • almonds produced (97,100 tonnes), up 39% from 2017-18
  • olives (86,200 tonnes), up 39%
  • avocados (79,500 tonnes), up 25%
  • strawberries (68,500 thousand tonnes), up 19%
     

Decreases in:

  • grapes (1.6 million tonnes), down 7%
  • oranges (343,000 tonnes), down 9%
  • bananas (310,200), down 17%
  • pears (80,400 tonnes), down 23%
     

Vegetables

Key results included:

  • 1.2 million tonnes of potatoes produced in 2018-19 (up 3%)
  • 329,200 tonnes of tomatoes (down 15%)
  • 290,800 thousand tonnes of onions (up 4%)
  • 133,500 tonnes of lettuces (down 10%)
  • 48,700 tonnes of mushrooms (down 5%)
     
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Livestock

Ongoing drought conditions limited growth of Australian livestock numbers in 2018-19.

Beef cattle

The national beef cattle herd fell 6 percent to 22 million following drought related destocking.

As at 30 June 2019, the herd comprised:

  • 5 million calves (down 7% from 2018)
  • 12 million cows and heifers (down 4%)
  • 6 million other cattle (down 9%)
     
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Dairy cattle

The national dairy cattle herd decreased 11% to 2 million head driven by a 12% fall in Victoria, the largest dairy producing state.

The herd comprised:

  • 1.4 million cows in milk and dry (down 11%)
  • 385,100 dairy calves less than one year (down 15%)
  • 369,900 heifers 1 to 2 years old (down 10%)
  • 115,100 heifers 2 years and older (down 17%)
     
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Sheep and lambs

The national sheep flock reached its lowest level since 1905 due to drought induced destocking and poor lambing rates.

There were 66 million sheep and lambs (down 7%) at 30 June 2019, including:

  • 19 million marked lambs less than one year old (down 12% from 2018)
  • 26 million breeding merino ewes (down 4%)
  • 12 million other breeding ewes (down 9%)
     
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Pigs

There were 2 million pigs (down 8%) nationally, with the herd size impacted by decreasing pig meat prices and rising feed costs.

Of these there were:

  • 269,400 breeding sows (down 2%)
  • 2 million other pigs (down 9%)
     

Chickens

The national poultry flock increased 10% to 137 million driven by a strong increase in the number of meat chickens on holding.

There were:

  • 112 million meat chickens (up 12%)
  • 16 million layers (up 1%)
  • 4 million other poultry (e.g. geese, turkeys, quail and ducks) (up 37%)

Changes in this and forthcoming issues

Drought, bushfires and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Impacts of drought are evident in agricultural activity estimates for the 2018-19 reference year across a number of the ABS' agricultural collections, including Agricultural Commodities, Australia. Many farming areas across Australia experienced drought throughout 2019, with New South Wales and Queensland particularly impacted.

There are no impacts in the 2018-19 estimates from more recent events including the COVID-19 pandemic, and from bushfire activity in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory in late 2019 and early 2020. The ABS is continuing to monitor potential impacts from natural disasters and COVID-19 across its agricultural collections for the 2019-20 reference year and beyond. For more information on the expected economic impacts of the Bushfire and COVID-19, please see the ABS Chief Economist Series paper Measuring natural disasters in the Australian economy.

Changes to collection outputs

Final estimates from the ABS' annual agricultural survey are available each year in this publication (Agricultural Commodities, Australia) as well as in a number of other ABS publications. For the 2018-19 reference period, there are two changes to collection outputs.

Final estimates of the gross value of agricultural commodities that are produced with the assistance of irrigation data will no longer be released in Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production (cat. no. 4610.0.55.008). This data will instead be incorporated into Water Account, Australia (cat. no. 4610.0).

Final estimates for land management, similar to those previously published in Land Management and Farming, Australia (cat. no. 4627.0) will be available on request from the second half of 2020.

Data downloads

Agricultural commodities, Australia and state/territory and ASGS (Statistical Area 4) regions - 2018-19

Agricultural commodities, Australia and state/territory and NRM regions - 2018-19

Farm management and demographics, Australia and state/territory and ASGS (Statistical Area 4) regions - 2018-19

Farm management and demographics, Australia and state/territory and NRM regions - 2018-19

Agricultural commodities, Australia and state/territory and ASGS (Statistical Area 4) regions - 2018-19 (.csv file)

Agricultural commodities, Australia and state/territory and NRM regions - 2018-19 (.csv file)

Land management, Australia and state/territory and NRM regions - 2018-19 (.csv file)

All data cubes

Survey material

To view the Agricultural commodities sample survey form click here.

History of changes

Show all

21/08/2020 - Land management datacube added

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 7121.0.