A reduced set of agricultural area and production statistics is available for the 2021-22 financial year. This is due to lower quality responses to the Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey, the main data input to this publication. More information is outlined in Changes in this and forthcoming issues.
Agricultural Commodities, Australia
Statistics on the production of principal agricultural commodities including cereal and broadacre crops, horticulture and livestock
- 369 million hectares of agricultural land, down 5% from 2020-21
- 36 million tonnes of wheat produced, up 14%
- 7 million tonnes of canola production, up 43%
- 70 million sheep and lambs on farms at 30 June 2022, up 3%
- 22 million beef cattle at 30 June 2022, up 1%
Reduced set of area and production statistics
At 30 June 2022 there were:
- 369 million hectares of agricultural land, down 5% from 2021
- 87,800 agricultural businesses, unchanged from 2021
Cereal and other broadacre crops
The ongoing La Niña weather cycle during 2021-22 resulted in a mixed season for Australia's broadacre crop producers in the eastern states. Flooding across areas of New South Wales and Queensland from November into December 2021 affected the growth and harvesting of many winter crops while summer crops such as rice and cotton benefitted from greater access to water for irrigation. Western Australia experienced improved soil moisture levels and highly favourable growing conditions during 2021-22 resulting a bumper harvest for the state's broadacre crops.
Increases in the price of oilseed crops such as canola saw businesses reducing their area sown to cereal crops with the area of barley down 7% and oats down 21%.
- sugar cane; 28.7 million tonnes produced, down 8%
- barley; 14.3 million tonnes, down 2%
- sorghum; 2.6 million tonnes, up 62%
- oats; 1.7 million tonnes, down 9%
- rice; 691,000 tonnes, up 63%
Australia's wheat production increased 14% to a new record of 36 million tonnes in 2021-22 driven by a 47% jump in Western Australia's harvest. An 8% increase in the area sown to wheat in Western Australia combined with favourable timing of rainfall and mild spring conditions resulted in record high crop yields and 13 million tonnes of wheat produced. South Australia also experienced a favourable season with production up 19% to 4.8 million tonnes. New South Wales experienced heavy rainfall across the entire state's wheat growing belt at the beginning of harvest and contributed to a 7% decrease in production, down to 12 million tonnes.
Increases in the price of oilseed crops resulted in more businesses sowing canola in 2021-22 (up 12%) and existing producers increasing their area sown. Australia's total area sown to canola rose 24% to 3.3 million hectares with Western Australia, the country's largest producer, increasing its area 28% to 1.5 million hectares. The increased area sown to canola and favourable growing conditions, especially in Western Australia, resulted in a production record of 6.8 million tonnes, up 43%. Western Australia's production increased 75% to 3 million tonnes.
During 2021-22 the area of sown to cotton almost doubled (up 99%) to 549,000 hectares driven by favourable cotton prices and forecasts of favourable weather conditions. Significant rainfall across cropping regions of eastern Australia recharged on-farm water storage and increased water availability for irrigated cotton. This, combined with ideal growing conditions, resulted in increased yields and a record 1.3 million tonnes of cotton lint harvested.
After experiencing record high production levels in 2020-21, horticultural crop producers experienced a mixed season in 2021-22 with production levels returning to normal for many. The second year of La Nina conditions resulted in above average rainfall and lower than average spring temperatures. New South Wales and Queensland producers were affected by floods in late 2021 while South Australian and Victorian producers experienced destructive hailstorms in January 2022.
Almond producers experienced a better season with favourable weather conditions, greater access to water for irrigation and a successful pollination period resulting in a ten-year record high for almond production nationally.
Key results for 2021-22 included:
- grapes for wine production (1.2 million tonnes), down 27% from 2020-21
- potatoes (1.1 million tonnes), down 13%
- oranges (390,700 tonnes), down 10%
- apples (300,500 tonnes), up 5%
- bananas (280,800 tonnes), down 19%
- almonds (136,800 tonnes), up 6%
A continuation of favourable weather conditions saw beef producers continuing to rebuild their herds but flooding across areas of New South Wales and Queensland from November into December 2021 resulted in some stock losses. Nationally, the beef herd increased 1% to 22.3 million head at 30 June 2022. Of the largest producing states Queensland increased 2% to 10.8 million head, New South Wales increased 5% to 4.4 million head and Victoria increased 3% to 2.2 million head.
Dairy cattle numbers continue to decline as producers either scale back dairy operations, sell their farms or move into beef cattle production. The national dairy herd decreased 10% to 2.1 million head at 30 June 2022. New South Wales was the only state to report an increase, up 3% to 291,700 head. Of the main dairy producing states, Victoria reported an 11% decrease to 1.3 million head while Tasmanian decreased 3% to 299,300 head.
Sheep and lambs
Australia's sheep flock increased 3% to 70.2 million sheep and lambs at 30 June 2022. Increases in New South Wales' flock (up 10% to 27.1 million head) were offset by decreases in Victoria (down 5% to 14.6 million head), Western Australia (down 2% to 12.4 million head) and South Australia (down 2% to 10.6 million head). Of the other producing states Queensland increased 35% to 2.8 million head and Tasmania increased 8% to 2.6 million head.
Thank you to Australia’s agricultural businesses
The ABS thanks all agricultural businesses who completed the Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodity Survey in 2022 either online or using a paper form. Over 15,000 businesses gave their time to share valuable insights about their farming operations and we have used that data to inform our understanding of the size and value of the agricultural sector in Australia during the 2021-22 financial year.
Changes in this and forthcoming issues
Reduced set of agricultural statistics for 2021-22
The quality of responses to the 2021-22 Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey was lower than required to produce a full set of regional agricultural statistics. Consequently, this release contains a reduced set of agricultural area and production statistics at the national, state and territory levels. Statistical Area 4 (SA4) estimates for some commodities may be available upon request.
In addition, agricultural water use statistics (including the gross value of irrigated agricultural production) for the 2021-22 financial year are not available. As a result, the Water Use on Australian Farms publication will not be produced. Total agricultural water use statistics at the national, state and territory levels will be published in the Water Account, Australia publication in November 2023.
Modernising ABS’ Agricultural Statistics
The ABS will no longer undertake large agricultural surveys, including the annual Rural Environment and Agricultural Commodities Survey and the 5 yearly Agricultural Census.
Instead, the ABS will use existing data from government, industry, and commercial sources to produce official agricultural statistics for the 2022-23 financial year onwards. These existing data sources will be complemented by a small number of short surveys of agricultural businesses.
This new approach to producing agricultural statistics aims to reduce reporting burden on farmers and increase the range and regional detail of agricultural statistics.
An information paper outlining further detail about how the ABS is approaching the production of official agricultural statistics will be released on the ABS website in early 2023.
Agricultural Commodities, Australia–2021-22
Australia, state and territory estimates
Agricultural Commodities, Australia–2021-22 - Data item listing
Previous catalogue number
This release previously used catalogue number 7121.0.