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7121.0 - Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2001-02  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/07/2003   
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MEDIA RELEASE

July 15, 2003
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
73/2003
Sheep numbers at lowest level since 1948: ABS

The Australian sheep and lamb flock was at its lowest level since 1948 in the year ending 30 June 2002, according to final figures from the 2001-02 Agricultural Survey released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

The onset of dry conditions and continued low prices were the main reasons for sheep and lamb numbers falling by 4% (or 4.8 million head) to 106 million at 30 June 2002.

Production of the major crops, wheat and barley increased after poor conditions the year before and a late start to the season in some areas. Despite a decrease in the area planted, wheat production increased by 10% to 24.3 million tonnes. Barley production also increased, up by 23% to 8.3 million tonnes, aided by increased plantings and improved yields.

Cattle numbers increased slightly to 27.9 million. Meat cattle numbers rose slightly to 24.7 million but this was offset by a 3% fall in milk cattle numbers to 3.1 million. Pig numbers increased by 7% to 2.9 million.

Most of the major fruit crops including apples, oranges and pears experienced a decrease in production. An exception to this was the grape industry, which continued the strong growth of recent years. The total area of vines increased by 7% to 159,000 hectares and the total production of grapes increased by 13% to 1.8 million tonnes.

Nationally, 447 million hectares of land were used for agricultural purposes, 2.5 million hectares of land was irrigated (less than 1% of all agricultural land) and 97,000 hectares of land was replanted with tree and shrub seedlings.

Further details are in Agricultural Commodities Australia 2001-02 (cat. no. 7121.0).

Media note: These figures include updates for the preliminary estimates of major commodities previously released in January 2003 and provide final estimates for all other commodities and details on land management practices. While the effect of dry conditions was seen in some areas, the full effect of the drought will not be seen until the release of preliminary estimates for the 2002-03 survey, due in November 2003.

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