Average cash incomes on Australian cropping farms have leapt about 28 per cent to $619,000, and livestock incomes are up 10pc to just over $200,000.
Good rainfall and high commodity prices have driven strong farm earning performances for the 2021-22 financial year, according to latest data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences .
However, ABARES has also highlighted high prices for farm inputs such as fuel and fertiliser which have already chewed into farm returns and will bite even harder in 2022-23.
Executive director, Dr Jared Greenville, said nationally cropping farms enjoyed a boom year of higher than average cash incomes in the past 12 months, with just 10pc reporting negative incomes.
"We can put this down to higher receipts from wheat, barley, oilseeds, and grain legumes," he said.
However, while a huge jump in average cropping farm income was recorded in Western Australia of 125pc, and 5pc in South Australia, the past year's results in NSW actually fell 13pc on the previous year, and also in Victoria (3pc), Queensland (2pc) and Tasmania (60pc).
Cropping enterprises, including mixed grain and livestock operations, represent about 18pc of Australian farm businesses, of which just under half, or 7500, are specialist cropping farms.
"It's been a solid year for livestock producers, as well, with average farm cash income increasing to $202,000 per farm," Dr Greenville said.
"A combination of high commodity prices, especially for beef cattle, and good seasonal conditions have delivered strong financial returns for livestock producers."
Almost 40pc of farm businesses are classified by ABARES as broadacre livestock businesses, totalling about 34,000 farms, of which 19,500 are beef specialists, 10,000 specialise in sheep production and about 4500 produce a mix of beef cattle and sheep.
Tasmania and Victoria were the only states to report a slide in average livestock cash incomes (down 16pc and 7pc respectively), while the Northern Territory jumped 99pc; NSW was up 28pc; WA 19pc; SA 11pc, and Queensland 3pc.
The strong farm performance result was attributed to modest but ongoing productivity gains in Australian agriculture.
"Over the long-term, average annual productivity growth in the broadacre industry was 1pc, and 1.3pc in the dairy industry," Dr Greenville said.
In the 22 years from 1988-89 to 2020-21, national broadacre climate adjusted productivity annual growth averaged 0.6pc, outpacing the unadjusted growth rate of 0.5pc a year.
"Looking beyond the averages, we see the broadacre sector performance is being driven by larger farms with the largest 10pc of broadacre farms producing around half of total output," he said
The smallest 50pc of farms produced about 10pc of total output.
Cropping cash incomes in 2021-22 were estimated to be 76pc above the average of $352,000 per farm, in real terms, for the 10 years to 2020-21, while for sheep and beef enterprises cash incomes would be about 49pc higher than the 10-year average of $136,000.
ABARES calculated the average rate of return for cropping farms (excluding capital appreciation) to have been 4.3pc, compared with the 10-year average of 3.3pc, while for livestock farms it was 2pc - firmly above above the 10-year average of 0.7pc.
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Andrew Marshall is the group agribusiness writer for ACM's state agricultural weeklies and websites. He is a former editor at The Land and has worked in various Rural Press group roles in Canberra, North Richmond (NSW) and Toowoomba (Qld).
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