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20 February 2004
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
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
Deer numbers remained stable at 1.7 million head, but are expected to
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.
Details of the provisional data from the 2003 survey are shown in the attached tables.
Source: Statistics New Zealand. Table compiled by the Policy Information Group, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
1 In 2002 the population
definition was changed to all units identified on Statistics New Zealand's
Business Frame or the Inland Revenue Department's (IRD) Client Register as
engaged in agricultural activity. The Business Frame is a list of New Zealand
businesses based on registrations for Goods and Services Tax (GST) with the
Inland Revenue Department, while the Client Register consists of all businesses
registered with that department. In addition, the population was supplemented
with information from AgriBase (a national database maintained by AgriQuality
New Zealand Ltd), previous agricultural surveys and volunteered industry lists.
For a copy of the survey questionnaire see
2 The Agricultural Production Survey collected total lambs
marked/tailed up until 1999.
p Provisional .. Not Available
For further information please visit the MAF website at www.maf.govt.nz/statistics, or contact
Paul Reynolds, Assistant Director General, MAF Policy
Or: Mieke Wensvoort, Senior Analyst (Statistics), MAF Policy