Stages of Drought

Vic Drought Hub - Farmland 4

The Drought Cycle

In Victoria, the Drought Cycle is made up of four phases:

  1. The Good Period: average or above average rainfall and good conditions.
  2. The Uncertain Period: growing conditions are below average.
  3. The Drought Period: rainfall is consistently below average; several expected 'good events' don't occur.
  4. Recovery: rainfall increases, but farm businesses are recovering from drought.
The Drought Cycle

Victoria - agriculture and drought at a glance

The following information has been collated from various ABARES resources, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

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).

VIC - Broad land use
Source: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)

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.

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.


Drought risk by region (National)

This study presents estimates of drought risk by ABARES farm survey regions. In general, regions with both a higher proportion of cropping activity (high sensitivity) and more variable climates (high exposure) tend to display greater drought risk. Some of the regions with the highest drought risk include central New South Wales, northern Victoria, as well as the South Australia Eyre Peninsula and the Western Australia North and East Wheat Belt regions.

Other regions were identified as having relatively low household incomes, but limited drought risk (small differences in outcomes between ‘normal’ and ‘drought’ years’) including the New South Wales Coastal, Queensland South Coastal, and Queensland Central North regions.

From: Measuring Drought Risk, ABARES, 2020

Region-Specific Information

Ballarat Region

The Ballarat region is located in the south west of Victoria (refer to land use map below). The region comprises the four local government areas of Ballarat, Central Goldfields, Hepburn and Pyrenees, and parts of the Ararat, Golden Plains, Loddon, Moorabool, and Mount Alexander local government areas. The region incorporates the major regional centre of Ballarat. The region covers a total area of around 10,300 square kilometres or 5 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 162,400 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Ballarat region occupies 6,500 square kilometres, or 63 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 1,000 square kilometres, or 10 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pastures, which occupies 4,900 square kilometres or 47 per cent of the Ballarat region (ABARES 2016).

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Ballarat region was $802 million, which was 5 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15.9 billion).

The Ballarat region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were sheep and lambs ($203 million), followed by wool ($157 million) and wheat ($87 million). These commodities together contributed 56 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the Ballarat region accounted for 34 per cent ($42 million) of the total value of Victoria's potato production.

Broad land use in the Ballarat regionVIC Ballarat - Broad land useSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Value of agricultural production, Ballarat region, 2018–19VIC Ballarat - Value of ag productionSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Bendigo Region

The Bendigo region is located in central Victoria. The region comprises the three local government areas of Greater Bendigo, Loddon and Mount Alexander, parts of Central Goldfields and Macedon Ranges local government areas, and the major regional centre of Bendigo. The region covers a total area of around 11,800 square kilometres or 5 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 157,800 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Bendigo region occupies 8,800 square kilometres, or 74 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 1,300 square kilometres, or 11 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 5,600 square kilometres or 47 per cent of the Bendigo region (ABARES 2016).

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Bendigo region was $614 million, which was 4 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15.9 billion).

The Bendigo region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were sheep and lambs ($132 million), followed by wool ($105 million) and pigs ($54 million). These commodities together contributed 47 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Broad land use in the Bendigo regionVIC Bendigo - Broad land useSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Value of agricultural production, Bendigo region, 2018–19VIC Bendigo - Value of ag productionSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Geelong Region

The Geelong region of Victoria is located in the south of the state and encompasses the south–west corner of Port Phillip Bay. The region comprises the three local government areas of Greater Geelong, Queenscliffe and Surf Coast, part of Golden Plains, and the major regional centre of Geelong. The region covers a total area of around 4,400 square kilometres or 2 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 294,000 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Geelong region occupies 3,100 square kilometres, or 70 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 840 square kilometres, or 19 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 2,000 square kilometres or 45 per cent of the Geelong region (ABARES 2016).

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Geelong region was $656 million, which was 4 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15.9 billion).

The Geelong region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were poultry ($249 million), followed by sheep and lambs ($95 million) and wool ($70 million). These commodities together contributed 63 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Broad land use in the Geelong regionVIC Geelong - Broad land useSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Value of agricultural production, Geelong region, 2018–19VIC Geelong - Value of ag productionSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Hume Region

The Hume region of Victoria is located in the north east of the state. The region comprises the 10 local government areas of Alpine, Benalla, Indigo, Mansfield, Mitchell, Murrindindi, Strathbogie, Towong, Wangaratta, Wodonga, and parts of Greater Shepparton and Yarra Ranges. The Hume region includes the major regional centres of Wangaratta and Wodonga. The region covers a total area of around 34,000 square kilometres or 15 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 174,600 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Hume region occupies 15,000 square kilometres, or 44 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 7,200 square kilometres, or 21 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 12,400 square kilometres or 36 per cent of the Hume region (ABARES 2016).

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Hume region was $1.2 billion, which was 7 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15.9 billion).

The Hume region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were cattle and calves ($418 million), followed by sheep and lambs ($197 million) and wool ($145 million). These commodities together contributed 65 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Broad land use in the Hume regionVIC Hume - Broad land useSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Value of agricultural production, Hume region, 2018–19VIC Hume - Value of ag productionSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Latrobe-Gippsland Region

The Latrobe-Gippsland region of Victoria is located in the eastern corner of the state. The region comprises the six local government areas of Bass Coast, Baw Baw, East Gippsland, Latrobe, South Gippsland and Wellington, and the major regional centres of Bairnsdale, Sale and Traralgon. The region covers a total area of around 41,400 square kilometres or 18 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 279,400 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Latrobe-Gippsland region occupies 11,700 square kilometres, or 28 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 11,700 square kilometres. The most common land use by area is production forestry, which occupies 14,300 square kilometres or 34 per cent of the Latrobe-Gippsland region (ABARES 2016).

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Latrobe-Gippsland region was $2.2 billion, which was 14 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15.9billion).

The most important commodities in the Latrobe-Gippsland region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($926 million), followed by cattle and calves ($649 million) and sheep and lambs ($82 million). These commodities together contributed 76 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the Latrobe-Gippsland region accounted for 91 per cent ($22 million) of the total value of Victoria's green peas production.

Broad land use in the Latrobe-Gippsland regionVIC Latrobe-Gippsland - Broad land useSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Value of agricultural production, Latrobe-Gippsland region, 2018–19VIC Latrobe-Gippsland - Value of ag productionSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Shepparton Region

The Shepparton region of Victoria is located in the north of the state. The region comprises the three local government areas of Campaspe, Greater Shepparton and Moira, and the major regional centres of Echuca, Shepparton—Mooroopna and Yarrawonga. The region covers a total area of around 10,900 square kilometres or 5 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 132,900 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Shepparton region occupies 8,800 square kilometres, or 81 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 1,300 square kilometres, or 11 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 3,500 square kilometres or 32 per cent of the Shepparton region (ABARES 2016).

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Shepparton region was $1.9 billion, which was 12 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15.9 billion).

The Shepparton region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the Shepparton region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($558 million), followed by cattle and calves ($262 million) and hay ($176 million). These commodities together contributed 52 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the Shepparton region accounted for 96 per cent ($64 million) of the total value of Victoria's pear production.

Broad land use in the Shepparton regionVIC Shepparton - Broad land useSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Value of agricultural production, Shepparton region, 2018–19VIC Shepparton - Value of ag productionSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
South-West & Warrnambool

The Warrnambool and South West region of Victoria is located in the south–west corner of the state, and adjoins the South Australian border. The region comprises the six local government areas of Colac–Otway, Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians and Warrnambool, part of Surf Coast, and the major regional centres of Colac, Hamilton and Warrnambool. The region covers a total area of around 26,380 square kilometres or 11.6 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 124,700 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the Warrnambool and South West region occupies 18,100 square kilometres, or 69 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 4,000 square kilometres, or 15 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture, which occupies 14,700 square kilometres or 56 per cent of the Warrnambool and South West region (ABARES 2016).

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the Warrnambool and South West region was $3 billion, which was 19 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15.9 billion).

The most important commodities in the Warrnambool and South West region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($865 million), followed by cattle and calves ($716 million) and sheep and lambs ($623 million). These commodities together contributed 73 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region.

Broad land use in the South-West & Warrnambool regionVIC South-West - Broad land useSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Value of agricultural production, South West & Warrnambool region, 2018–19VIC South-West - Value of ag productionSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
North-West

The North West region spans the North West corner of Victoria, between the South Australian and New South Wales borders. The region comprises the ten local government areas of Ararat, Buloke, Gannawarra, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Mildura, Northern Grampians, Swan Hill, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack, part of Pyrenees, and the major regional centres of Ararat, Horsham and Mildura. The region covers a total area of around 78,100 square kilometres or 34 per cent of Victoria's total area and is home to approximately 152,100 people (ABS 2018).

Agricultural land in the North West region occupies 52,300 square kilometres, or 67 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) also occupy 20,000 square kilometres, or 26 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is dryland cropping, which occupies 31,000 square kilometres or 40 per cent of the North West region (ABARES 2016).

In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the North West region was $4.2 billion, which was 26 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Victoria ($15.9 billion).

The North West region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were wheat ($561 million), followed by sheep and lambs ($533 million) and Almonds ($486 million). These commodities together contributed 38 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2018–19 the North West region accounted for 100 per cent ($22 million) of the total value of Victoria's mandarin production.

Broad land use in the North-West regionVIC North-West - Broad land useSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Value of agricultural production, North West region, 2018–19VIC North-West - Value of ag productionSource: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
Vic Drought Hub - Farmland 4