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28 May 2003 - For Immediate Release
The latest regional statistics from the 2002 Agricultural Production Census
describe recent changes in our agricultural and horticultural landscape.
The census confirmed the growth and importance of dairy farming and the drop
in New Zealand's total sheep and beef populations. This release also confirms
the provisional figures that areas planted in avocados and wine grapes had
increased significantly. On the other hand, pipfruit and pear orchards were down
One of the main points confirmed by the census was the improved profitability
of dairying over other types of pastoral farming. This led to strong growth in
the national dairy herd in the last eight years. The herd totalled 5.2 million
head as at June 2002, up 1.3 million cattle on 1994. The biggest growth took
place in the South Island where the total number of dairy cattle doubled to 1.3
million between 1994 and 2002. Canterbury, Otago and especially the Southland
region contributed to this increase.
Farmers have benefited from improved milk solids production through the use
of genetics and improved farm management techniques. Milk solids per cow have
increased, on average, by two percent per annum since 1988. This increase in
productivity, as well as expanded herd sizes and more dairy farms, was reflected
in increased export volumes of dairy and casein products - eight percent per
year, on average, since 1994. Prices received for dairy and casein exports, over
the same time, averaged an increase of 1.6 percent per year.
Despite favourable export prices, New Zealand's sheep flock continued to fall
but farmers are producing heavier lambs. The flock totalled 39.5 million in
2002, down by 20 percent from 49.5 million head in 1994. There was a 10 percent
reduction in lambs tailed, with the number tailed in 2002 at 32.7 million lambs.
The number of beef cattle declined from 5.0 million to 4.5 million head in
2002. Eleven out of the sixteen regions showed a drop in the number of beef
cattle from 1994 to 2002. The West Coast recorded the biggest percentage fall of
Deer numbers increased from 1.2 million to 1.6 million head since the last
census in 1994. The greatest change was the growth in South Island deer numbers.
The deer numbers in 1994 were spread evenly between the North and South Island,
whereas the 2002 census results showed that the split was 37:63 in favour of the
The census results confirmed the extensive plantings of wine grapes since
1994. The area under wine grapes increased from 7,200 hectares to 17,400
hectares in 2002. Substantial increases in wine grapes were recorded for Nelson,
Marlborough, Hawke's Bay, Gisborne and Auckland, but the biggest proportional
jump took place in Central Otago. The area under grapes in Central Otago
totalled 1,100 hectares in 2002 - up a staggering 1,000 hectares.
Avocado plantings showed big increases in the Northland, Auckland and Bay of
Plenty regions. Over the eight-year period to 1994, avocados planted in
Northland increased by a factor of three while in the Bay of Plenty plantings
doubled. Total area in avocados was 3,100 hectares as at June 2002.
Cherries appeared to be a growth crop in Otago and showed a 250 percent
increase in land planted. The area in cherries totalled 600 hectares as at 30
Olives have become an increasingly common crop with groves giving a typically
Mediterranean appearance to many regions in New Zealand, but particularly in
Cantebury. The census showed that there were some 2,600 hectares of olive groves
planted throughout New Zealand.
The area harvested in onions grew by 10 percent from 1994 to 5,400 hectares
in 2002. Sizeable increases in areas harvested were recorded in the regions of
Manawatu-Wanganui and Canterbury. The area harvested in potatoes increased by 12
percent from 1994 to 2002 to 10,600 hectares. The areas for squash totalled
6,600 hectares in 2002, down from 7,500 hectares.
The census was a joint undertaking by Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry
of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).
More information from the 2002 Agricultural Production Survey will be
released in June. This will include information on farm counts, farm types,
livestock numbers and also new information on Maori businesses, irrigation,
organic land and grazing of animals for rent.
This census, which will be carried out every five years, will be followed up
this year with a survey of 40,000 randomly selected farmers, horticulturists and
foresters. This will update farming data and continue the monitoring of the
sectors which produce two-thirds of New Zealand's merchandise export earnings.
For further information, contact: Mieke Wensvoort, Senior Analyst
(Statistics), MAF Policy Phone 04 474-4278 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit the MAF website - www.maf.govt.nz