- Good seasonal conditions and higher commodity prices in 2021–22 are major drivers of improved broadacre farm performance in Australia. At the national level, farm cash income for all broadacre farms is projected to increase by around 34% to average $278,000 per farm in 2021–22.
- Higher prices for fertilisers and fuel are expected to moderate the extent of improvements in farm incomes. However, most of the increase in costs—particularly fertilisers—is expected to affect the 2022–23 winter crop production.
- Incomes for broadacre farms are expected to increase in all states in 2021–22.
- Incomes for dairy farms are projected to increase by around 35% to average $338,000 per farm in 2021–22. Higher milk prices, favourable seasonal conditions, increased milk production and lower feeding costs have contributed to the increase in incomes from the drought affected lows of recent years.
Farm performance data visualisation
- Choose between the Broadacre and Dairy pages using the arrows at the bottom of the data visualisation.
- Select the desired fields—out of the jurisdiction and industry options.
- Download the data showing in the visualisation by clicking the ‘Download Data’ button in each tab. For more information on the results and definitions of items, click the ‘Definitions and more information’ button in each tab.
The Power BI dashboard may not meet accessibility requirements. For information about the content of this dashboard contact ABARES.
Broadacre farm performance improves further in 2021–22
- In 2021–22, good seasonal conditions and higher commodity prices across much of Australia saw further improvement in farm financial performance, building on the rebound from drought that occurred in 2020–21.
- For Australia as a whole, average farm cash income for all broadacre farms is projected to increase by 34% in 2021–22—from $208,000 per farm in 2020–21 to $278,000 per farm in 2021–22. This would take average farm cash income in 2021–22 to around 56% above the longer-term average of $178,000 per farm in real terms for the 10 years to 2020–21.
- Incomes on cropping farms are expected to increase by around 40% in 2021–22 to $572,000 per farm with good rainfall and high grain prices contributing to increased crop receipts in all states.
- Incomes on livestock farms are expected to increase by around 24% in 2021–22 to an average of $163,000 per farm with higher receipts from beef cattle and wool.
- At the national level, average farm business profit (farm cash income adjusted for changes in livestock and grain inventories, as well as capital depreciation and the imputed value of family labour) is projected to increase from an average of $101,000 per farm in 2020–21 to $183,000 per farm in 2021–22. This increase is greater than the increase in farm cash income because of increases in the value of livestock inventories and grain held on farm at 30 June in response to consecutive good seasons.
- COVID-19 containment measures have presented a range of challenges for the operation of broadacre farm businesses, but ultimately have had a limited impact on overall broadacre farm production or costs. Rapid adaptation of supply chains has resulted in no significant impacts on the continuity of input supply, such as fuel, chemicals, and fertilisers. The generally low labour intensity of broadacre agriculture means that constraints on labour supply have been minor relative to other agricultural industries such as horticulture.
- For cropping farms (see Box 1), average farm incomes are projected to be much higher in 2021–22 due to increased crop production and prices. Strong increases in crop receipts are expected in all states, although some parts of central and northern New South Wales were affected by rainfall during harvest.
- On average, farm cash income for cropping farms is expected to increase by around 40% in 2021–22 to $572,000 per farm. Substantial increases in incomes are expected on cropping farms in Queensland and Western Australia.
- Higher prices for beef cattle, sheep, wool and lambs are expected to contribute to increased incomes for livestock farms in 2021–22. However, the increase in incomes will be moderated by slightly reduced sales of cattle and sheep on average as many producers in some regions continue herd and flock rebuilding.
- On average, farm cash income for livestock farms is expected to increase by around 24% in 2021–22 to around $163,000 per farm. The increase in incomes is expected to be mainly because of higher beef receipts, with receipts from sheep, lambs and wool remaining relatively unchanged from the previous year.
The broadacre farm data in this report is drawn from ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey (AAGIS). AAGIS covers broadacre farms with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) greater than $40,000 and includes the following industries (defined by Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC)):
- Specialised producers of cereal grains, coarse grains, pulses, and oilseeds. ANZSIC 0149.
- Farm businesses engaged in producing sheep and/or beef cattle in conjunction with substantial activity in broadacre crops such as wheat, coarse grains, pulses and oilseeds. ANZSIC 0145.
- Specialised producers of beef cattle. ANZSIC 0142.
- Specialised producers of prime lambs, sheep, sheep milk or wool. ANZSIC 0141.
- Producers who have a mix of sheep and beef cattle. Farms classified to sheep-beef industry combine sheep and beef enterprises such that neither enterprise dominates the other. ANZSIC 0144.
The dairy farm data in this report is drawn from ABARES Australian Dairy Industry survey.
Further information on the ABARES farm surveys and survey methodology can be found on the ABARES website.
- Map 1 shows farms incomes in 2021–22 relative to the longer-term average (10 years to 2020–21).
- Higher incomes in 2021–22 are expected to result in most regions across Australia outperforming the longer-term average. Incomes remained below the longer-term average in South East Queensland, Far Western New South Wales and parts of the New South Wales central and northern tablelands.
- In Far Western New South Wales this was mostly climate driven, with below average rainfall slowing flock rebuilding efforts, leading to wool production below the longer-term average.
- Increases in crop production because of higher rainfall were the main driver of increased incomes for many farms in the cropping regions of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
- Results were mixed in regions dominated by livestock production. Some regions benefited from higher beef cattle prices—including parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory—while farm cash incomes were lower than average in other regions as producers continue rebuilding herds and flocks.
- The financial performance of Australian dairy farms improved in 2020–21 and is projected to increase further in 2021–22.
- At the national level, average farm cash income in 2020–21 is estimated to have increased by 34% to around $249,300 per farm. This increase was driven by higher milk production per farm and lower fodder costs as seasonal conditions improved from the previous drought-affected years. The increase in average milk production per farm also reflects ongoing adjustment in the industry with a number of smaller farms exiting the industry.
- In 2021–22 higher farmgate milk prices are expected to result in average farm cash income increasing by a further 35% to average $338,000 per farm. The extent of the increase in incomes is expected to be moderated by higher fuel and fertiliser costs due to higher global energy prices.
- In 2021–22 average dairy farm incomes are projected to increase in all states, ranging from 6% in South Australia (where average incomes have been at historically high levels in recent years), to 96% in Queensland (where dairy farmers are benefitting from higher milk prices, lower fodder costs, and much improved seasonal conditions).
The 2021–22 projections were generated using farmpredict (see Box 2) based on AAGIS data up to 2019–20, ABARES forecasts of commodity prices for 2021–22 (as at March 2022) and observed weather data up to February 2022 with a ‘climatological’ ensemble forecast of March to June 2022 weather conditions (based on the last 20 years). Given the late stage of season, the uncertainty in climate conditions for the remainder of 2021–22 has limited implications for the 2021–22 farm performance projections (see the shaded areas in Figure 2 and Figure 3).
Farmpredict is a data driven micro-simulation model developed using historical farm data from ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industry Survey (AAGIS). The model links information on the characteristics of farm businesses, commodity prices and climate data to produce farm-level predictions of the production of outputs, the use of inputs and changes in stocks (Figure 1). Full details of the model are provided in the working paper by Hughes et al. (2019).
In the short term, farm incomes are affected by seasonal conditions, input prices, commodity prices and the ability of farmers to make decisions based on changes in—and expectations of—these factors. But in the longer-term, changes in average incomes are also determined by industry structure and the economic factors allowing for economies of size and increased productivity. As shown in Figure 4 and Figure 5 below, there has been a trend towards more larger farms and less small farms over the past 20 years.
The change in the distribution of farms is much clearer for cropping farms. For cropping farms, the percentage of farms with a turnover greater than $2,000,000 has increased from around 2% in 1999–00 to 22% in 2020–21. For livestock farms the increase has been much more modest, from around 1% to around 3%. The relative growth in farm size for the cropping industry is in part due to the relative availability of technologies and management practices which have encouraged increases in scale.
Hughes, N, Soh, W, Lawson, K, Boult, C, Donoghoe, M, Valle, H & Chancellor, W 2019, farmpredict: A microsimulation model of Australian farms, ABARES working paper, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra, November.
Farm surveys data
Detailed ABARES farm survey data available through interactive tools and spreadsheets.
Farm surveys definitions and methods
Further information about our survey definitions and methods.
Farm performance: broadacre and dairy farms, 2018–19 to 2020–21
See our publications page for previous versions of the report Australian farms surveys results.
About my region
ABARES has produced a series of individual profiles of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries in your region. Each regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors in the region, and the recent financial performance of the broadacre and dairy industries.