Increased production levels per farm and higher market prices for produce led to improved income levels for vegetable growers in 2015-16, according to ABARES’ latest vegetable industry survey.
Acting Assistant Secretary of ABARES’ Agricultural Productivity and Farm Analysis branch, David Galeano, said the average farm cash income in the vegetable growing industry is estimated to have increased to around $254,000 per farm.
“In 2016-17, average farm income of Australian vegetable-growing farms is projected to be the highest in real terms since ABARES began surveying vegetable-growing farms in 2007,” Mr Galeano said.
“Average farm cash income is projected to increase in all states, except Victoria and Tasmania.
“The total value of capital for Australian vegetable-growing farms decreased by 15 per cent in real terms from 2006-07 to 2015-16, due to a reduction in the number of Australian vegetable-growing farms, despite the average size of vegetable growing farms increasing.
“Nevertheless, Australian vegetable growers made an average of $271 million in new capital investment each year and average total capital per farm increased by 35 per cent to around $4.5 million per farm.
“Average farm debt of Australian vegetable-growing farms is projected to have increased by around 15 per cent in 2015-16, but average equity ratios remain strong at around 86 per cent.
The growing popularity of speciality vegetables like Asian greens has led to an increase in high intensity farming operations in all states except Western Australia and Tasmania, from 2006-07 to 2015-16.
“Vegetable growing is big business for Australia, especially in Queensland and Victoria, which combined accounted for 55 per cent of the total value of vegetable production in 2015-16.
“It’s our fifth-highest value agricultural industry and made up six per cent—or $3.6 billion—of the gross value of agricultural production in 2015-16.
“In 2015-16, it was heartening to see growers received higher than average prices for most vegetables. Potatoes claimed the highest gross value of production at $520 million, followed by mushrooms at $323 million and tomatoes at $305 million.
“Unfortunately, poor weather conditions can wreak havoc on crops and heavy rains and flooding in Queensland and South Australia will likely see vegetable crop yields decline for the second year in a row in 2016-17.”