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Australian Agricultural Overview 2021

Australian Agricultural Overview 2021


Australian Agricultural Overview 2021


Australia has a diverse agricultural, fisheries and forestry sector, producing a range of crop and livestock products. The gross value of agricultural, fisheries and forestry production has increased by 7% in the past 20 years in real terms (adjusted for consumer price inflation), from approximately $62 billion in 2000–01 to $67 billion in 2019–20.

Drivers of output growth over the past 20 years vary by sector:

In cropping, long-term falls in real prices have been offset by volume growth, as producers have improved productivity by adopting new technologies and management practices.

In livestock, higher prices have been the main driver of growth reflecting growing demand for protein in emerging countries and also some temporary factors, such as drought in the United States and disease outbreaks such as African Swine Fever in meat importing countries.

Statistical Values

In 2018–19, there were 89,400 agricultural businesses with an Estimated Value of Agricultural Operations (EVAO) of $40,000 or greater in Australia. There were an estimated 57,300 broadacre and dairy farm businesses in 2018–19. Of these, 36%  were classified as beef industry farms, 19% sheep industry farms, 14% wheat and other crops industry farms, 14% mixed livestock-crops industry farms, 10% dairy industry farms, and 8% sheep-beef industry farms. For broadacre farms, the biggest changes to the farm population since 1978–79 have been a decline in the total number of farms, a decline in the share of mixed livestock-crops farm businesses and an increase in the share of beef industry farm businesses.

Risk and Variability

Australian agricultural producers manage significant variability, including a highly variable climate and volatile commodity prices. These factors generate substantial variation in farm output, greater than that experienced by farmers in most other countries and greater than that experienced by business owners in other sectors of the Australian economy. Australian farmers have a number of effective strategies for managing risk, including maintaining relatively high levels of equity, liquid assets and borrowing capacity, using inputs conservatively, diversifying across enterprises and locations and earning off-farm income.

Well-managed farms are better prepared for droughts and other risks, such as global price shocks, and not all farmers in regions affected by drought experience economic or financial hardship. For example, over the past 20 years an average of 50% of broadacre farms generated more than $50,000 (in real terms) in farm cash income in a given year. But this proportion varied substantially with seasonal conditions and prices. In the 2006–07 drought year, just 33% of farms generated more than $50,000 income, whereas 52% of farms managed to do so in the 2019–20 drought year.