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Official Agricultural Production Statistics

New Zealand’s 2003 Official Agricultural Production Statistics Announced

The latest Agricultural Production Survey shows that sheep and dairy cattle numbers have remained relatively stable in the past year but the area planted in wine grapes has continued to grow.

The 2003 survey of over 40,000 farms was conducted jointly by Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

By comparison, the 2002 Census showed that significant changes had taken place in New Zealand agriculture since the last census of 1994.

Two-thirds of New Zealand’s merchandise export earnings come from the land-based primary sectors, amounting to more than $20 billion annually. Agriculture contributes an estimated 17 percent to New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product if first-stage processing and manufacturing are included in the calculation.

The 2003 Agriculture Production Survey showed that total sheep numbers remained roughly stable at 39.7 million, whereas the number of sheep in New Zealand had declined steadily between 1982 and 2002. The sheep breeding flock also remained stable at just over 29 million ewes.

Sheep farming remains significant because good prices are being paid for New Zealand lamb in international markets and because of increased numbers of lambs born and increased lamb slaughter weights. Lamb earned $2.0 billion in export income for the year to June 2003.

The survey shows that the number of dairy cattle increased slightly to 5.2 million head. Previously, the national dairy herd had grown by 35 per cent between 1994 and 2002, due to the increased profitability of dairying over most other land uses. The breeding herd also increased slightly to 4.0 million cattle. Dairy products (including casein) earned $5.6 billion in export income in the year to June 2003, or 20 per cent of New Zealand’s total merchandise export income.

Deer numbers remained stable at 1.7 million head, but are expected to decline.

The survey estimates the national beef herd provisionally at 4.7 million as at 30 June 2003, up slightly on the 2002 figure. By comparison, the beef herd stood at 5.0 million in 1994. The beef breeding herd stood at 1.3 million cows, up slightly from 2002. Exports of beef and veal earned over $1.6 billion for the year ended June 2003.

The survey shows that the area in wine grapes continued to increase. In 2003 the total area in wine grapes stood at 19,170 hectares, up 10 per cent from 2002, and up by over 50 per cent from 2000. The total area in kiwifruit and apples remained stable at 12,370 hectares and 11,930 hectares respectively.

The areas harvested in squash, onions and sweetcorn (all significant export commodities) were estimated at 6,950 hectares, 5,870 hectares and 6,850 hectares respectively. Horticultural exports have grown from $200 million to $2.1 billion over 20 years.

The total area of wheat harvested was 43,200 and the area of barley harvested was 64,700 hectares.

Assistant Director General, MAF Policy, Dr Paul Reynolds says that the results of the 2003 survey verify those of the 2002 census. He says that the results will be used by MAF and other central and local government departments in agriculture, forestry and land use policy and planning.

“They will also be used in forecasting production and economics for the main agriculture industries, reporting to international organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the OECD, and in trade negotiations. Various agriculture supply companies will also use the results in planning for future needs for agricultural equipment and services,” says Dr. Reynolds.

Final statistics from the survey will be released in May of this year, including detailed data at the regional level, and additional information on farm types, forestry and land use.

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