About my region is a series of individual profiles of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries in your region. This regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sectors in Victoria and the recent financial performance of the Victorian broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
Victoria covers a total area of around 226,900 square kilometres and is home to approximately 6,321,600 people (ABS 2018). Agricultural land in Victoria occupies 128,000 square kilometres, or around 56 per cent of the state. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 49,100 square kilometres, or 22 per cent of the state (refer to land use map below). The most common land use by area is grazing of modified pasture, which occupies 72,500 square kilometres or 32 per cent of the state (ABARES 2016).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the August 2020 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 3.4 million people were employed in the state of Victoria.
Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 477,100 people, followed by retail trade with 333,400 people, and professional, scientific and technical services with 319,100 people. Other important employment sectors in the state were construction; education and training; and manufacturing. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 90,300 people, representing 3 per cent of the state's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in Victoria was $15.9 billion, which was 26 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia ($60 billion).
The most important commodities in Victoria based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($2.7 billion), followed by cattle and calves ($2.4 billion) and sheep and lambs ($1.9 billion). These commodities together contributed 44 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the state.
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2018–19 there were 19,708 farms in Victoria with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The state contains 24 per cent of all farm businesses in Australia.
|Number of farms||% of Region||Number of farms||Contribution of Vic to Australian total %|
|Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)||4,894||24.8||23,359||21.0|
|Dairy Cattle Farming||3,369||17.1||5,260||64.0|
|Sheep Farming (Specialised)||2,982||15.1||9,712||30.7|
|Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming||1,940||9.8||9,385||20.7|
|Other Grain Growing||1 829||9.3||8,259||22.1|
|Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming||1,262||6.4||5,117||24.7|
|Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)||428||2.2||2,591||16.5|
|Other Crop Growing nec||258||1.3||959||26.9|
Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $40,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown. nec Not elsewhere classified.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Customised report, 2020
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (4,894 farms) were the most common, accounting for 25 per cent of all farms in Victoria.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 23 per cent of farms in Victoria had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 4 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2018–19. In comparison, 15 per cent of farms in the state had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 52 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in Victoria in 2018–19.
In 2017–18 the gross value production (GVP) of Victoria's fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild-catch) was $111 million, an increase of 19% ($17.4 million) from 2016–17. Victoria contributed 3% of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2017–18. In value terms, the wild-catch sector accounted for 57% ($62.8 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 43% ($48.3 million).
Victoria's wild-catch fisheries sector increased by 15% to $62.8 million in 2017–18 from $54.4 million in 2016–17. The sector is dominated by two main products; Abalone and Southern Rock Lobster, which accounted for 43% ($26.9 million) and 37% ($23.3 million), respectively, of the total value of wild-caught production. The increase in Victoria’s wild-catch GVP in 2017–18 is almost entirely attributed to higher GVP of Abalone. GVP of wild-caught Abalone increased 31% to $26.9 million driven in large part by higher unit prices, which increased by 24% to $35.6 per kilogram in 2017–18 as a result of strong demand in the Chinese market.
In 2017–18 the value of Victoria's aquaculture production increased by 23% to $48.3 million, with Abalone, Salmonids and Mussels accounting for 52%, 28.5% and 11% respectively. Almost all of the growth in the GVP of Victoria’s aquaculture in 2017–18 is attributed to a 42% increase in Abalone GVP to $25.2 million. The value of Salmonids slightly decreased by 6% to a value of $13.7 million, due to a decrease in production volume.
Commonwealth fisheries active in the waters off Victoria include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (a major source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) and the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (which supplies Gummy Shark or 'flake' to Melbourne). The Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery, Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) and the Southern Squid Jig Fishery also operate in the waters off Victoria.
In 2018–19, fisheries products exported from Victoria were valued at $247 million. This value includes State and Commonwealth fisheries products exported from the ports of Victoria, which may be sourced from Victorian waters or other parts of the country. The main export products include Abalone and Southern Rock Lobster. China, Hong Kong and Singapore are the major destinations for Victorian fisheries exports, accounting for 60%, 15% and 8% of the total value in 2018–19, respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (5%) and New Zealand (5%).
Recreational fishing is popular in Victoria. In a 2015 Economic Study it was found that over 835,000 Victorian residents participate in recreational fishing annually (Ernst & Young 2015). In 2013–14 alone, Victorian residents made 6.1 million fishing trips across the state (Ernst & Young 2015), with Port Phillip Bay, Western Port and Gippsland Lakes being the most popular marine/estuarine recreational fishing locations (Australian Survey Research Pty Ltd 2018). Recreational fishing in Victoria includes gamefishing for species such as Southern Bluefin Tuna (Green et al 2012), diving for Southern Rock Lobster, Abalone, and Scallops and hook and line fishing for a range of Finfish species, such as Breams, King George Whiting, Flathead and Squid (Australian Survey Research Pty Ltd 2018).
Freshwater lakes and rivers are also popular fishing destinations for Victorian residents, especially the Murray River, Lake Eildon and the Goulburn River. Murray Cod, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Redfin, Golden Perch and Yabbies are the most popular freshwater species targeted by Victorian residents (Australian Survey Research Pty Ltd 2018).
Note: Where applicable the Australian Fish Names Standard AS SSA 5300-2019 is now used in this section. In this section standard fish names for groups of species or species families are not capitalised and employ the use of initial capital letters.
In 2017–18, the total plantation area in Victoria was 420,600 hectares, comprised of 196,300 hectares of hardwood plantations and 223,400 hectares of softwood plantations.
In 2016, Victoria had 34 sawmills (including 9 softwood sawmills), 8 post and pole processors, 3 wood based panel processors and 5 paper and paperboard processors.
In 2016, there were 7.6 million hectares of native forests in Victoria, comprised mainly of Eucalypt Medium Open (3.1 million hectares), Eucalypt Tall Open (1.4 million hectares) and Eucalypt Mallee Woodland (1.3 million hectares).
In 2017–18, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 1.2 million cubic metres, valued at $103.5 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested in Victoria was 3.6 million cubic metres, valued at $262.3 million. The volume of plantation softwood logs harvested in Victoria was 4.3 million cubic metres, valued at $341.5 million.
In 2017–18, the estimated sales and service income generated from the sale of wood products in Victoria was $3.6 billion. Sales and service income for paper and paper products is not available for 2017–18.
In 2016, the Victoria forestry sector employed 15,105 workers (0.60 per cent of the total employed workforce in Victoria) compared with 20,167 (0.74 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry and logging, forestry support services, wood product manufacturing and pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.
ABARES 2016, Land Use of Australia 2010–11, ABARES, Canberra, May.
ABARES 2018, Catchment scale land use of Australia – December 2018, Canberra, December.
ABS 2018, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 10 January 2019.
ABS 2020a, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, August 2020, cat. no. 6291.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 12 December 2020.
ABS 2020b, Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2018-19, cat. no. 7503.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 29 May 2020.
Australian Survey Research Pty Ltd 2018, Victorian Fisheries Authority Recreational Fishing in Victoria Report of survey findings (PDF 1.42 MB), Bentleigh, Victoria.
Ernst & Young 2015, Economic Study of Recreational Fishing in Victoria - Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body (PDF 761 KB), Ernst & Young, Australia.
Green, C, Brown, P, Giri K, Bell, J & Conron, S 2012, Quantifying the recreational catch of southern bluefin tuna off the Victorian coast, Recreational Fishing Grants Program research report R09/10/03, Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne, Victoria.
Henry, GW & Lyle JM (eds) 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Final report to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, NSW Fisheries final report series, no. 48, FRDC project no. 99/158, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.