Value of Australian farm production rises to $54 billion

The total value of Australia’s agricultural production increased by 5.4 per cent to $54 billion despite poor seasonal conditions across much of the country, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

“The growth in the value of Australia’s agricultural production was largely driven by an increase in the gross value of livestock disposals and products,” said Lauren Binns, Director of Rural Environment and Agriculture Statistics at the ABS.

“Strong international demand for livestock and meat products has seen prices rise through 2014-15 in both the domestic and export markets. Higher prices for cattle and sheep in particular have seen the value of Australia’s livestock disposals and products increase 18 per cent to $27 billion,” said Binns.

There has been a corresponding fall in both the Australian meat cattle herd (down six per cent to 24.6 million head) and the sheep flock (down two per cent to 70.9 million head).

“Queensland’s meat cattle herd decreased by 1.6 million head or 12 per cent to stand at 11.2 million head in 2014-15, as ongoing warm and dry weather conditions and the increased international demand provided incentives for farmers to slaughter a greater proportion of their herds,” said Binns.

While the gross value of livestock products increased in 2014-15, there were mixed results for both the value and production of agricultural crops. Sorghum and sugar cane for crush have seen increases in gross value, while there have been falls for wheat and canola.

Australian sorghum production increased 72 per cent in the 2014-15 harvest with an increase in the area planted and good yields following some above average rainfalls later in the season. “This increase in production has carried through to a 73 per cent increase in the estimated value of production for sorghum as prices remain high with increased exports to China, which is now Australia’s largest export market for grain sorghum,” said Binns.

Sugar cane cut for crush reported the largest increase in the level of production, up 1.9 million tonnes to 32.4 million tonnes, which represents a six per cent increase over 2013-14 production figures. With area unchanged, a six per cent increase in yield has driven the increase.

In contrast production of wheat fell six per cent to 23.7 million tonnes. The decrease in national production was driven by a 12 per cent decrease in Western Australia’s production (down to 8.8 million tonnes) and a 23 per cent decrease in Victoria’s production (down to 2.6 million tonnes) with both states experiencing warm and dry conditions during winter and spring.

 

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