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Horticultural industry survey results: 1977-78

Horticultural industry survey results: 1977-78

Quarterly Review of the Rural Economy 2(2): 211-215

The results of the Australian 1977-78 horticultural survey are presented and discussed. (1) The average orchard and vineyard area per farm in Australia is 15 ha., with a range of from 9 ha. in the Outer Sydney Region to more than 30 ha. in the McLaren-Southern Vales Region; (2) farms in the irrigated regions appear to be more diversified relative to dryland regions; (3) total farm receipts ranged from $19 000 per farm in the Barossa-Clare Region to more than $125 000 in Tasmania, with an all-regions average of $45 000 per farm; (4) the importance of non-horticultural receipts varied between regions, but in Western Australia these accounted for more than 50% of the total; (5) net cash income was greater than $10 000 per farm in all regions except the Barossa-Clare ($3300) and McLaren-Southern vales ($3700); (6) distribution data show that, overall, some 23% of growers had net cash incomes of less than $4000, which is an unequivocally low income figure; (7) rates of return to capital and management are relatively low, even by rural standards, with an all-regions estimate of only 1%. Particularly low levels were recorded in the Outer Sydney, Goulburn Valley, Stanthorpe and Barossa-Clare Regions; (8) household cash income includes the household's share of net cash income from the farm, off-farm wages, non-farm income and non-taxable income and gives an estimate of the cash welfare position of the farm household. Even when these non-farm sources of income are included, some 14% of households still received less than $4000. Overall, 1977-78 was a poor year in many horticultural regions. The data strongly suggest that many producers are continuing in the industry by making no allowance for their family labour or depreciation in their capital. In other words, many are surviving on a short-term cash basis rather than on a long-term sound economic footing.

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