Drought puts downward pressure on the value of ag

This week the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) released their farm production figures, reflecting a step backwards for Australian agriculture.

The report concluded that Australian farm gate output will reach $58 billion in 2018-19. This is down from $59 billion in 2017-18.

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) CEO Tony Mahar said the disappointing figures were to be expected given the impact of drought on production across large parts of eastern Australia.

“Many livestock producers have destocked considerably and grain producers are facing another year without a winter crop. The higher cost of inputs including water and grain is also biting.”

The drought has had its effects on thousands of farming businesses. Tony York says this dam on his Tammin property hasn’t filled in over five years. PIC: by Jo Fulwood.

According to the report, winter crop production is down by 20 per cent to 30.4 million tonnes.

The eastern states showed the biggest decline in production with falls of 60 per cent in NSW, 51 per cent in Victoria and Queensland, and 24 per cent in South Australia.

By contrast, Western Australia had a 21 per cent increase in winter crop production to 17.1 million tonnes. Their second largest yield ever.

Despite the tough climatic conditions in 2018-2019, industry leaders remain positive about the industry’s potential for growth.

The NFF says this year’s results highlight why risk management – including a national drought policy – is central to achieving its $100 billion target by 2030.

“It’s a bold target and one that, as ABARES’ figures reveal today, won’t come easily.

“A modern all-of-Government drought policy must aim to create conditions where, when drought breaks, farmers are able to return to pre-drought production as quickly as possible.

“To achieve this we need to strike the balance between tried and true assistance measures and innovative new approaches to how farmers can, for example, access finance, manage their natural resources, and mitigate risk,” Mr Mahar said.

For information on drought assistance visit farmhub.org.au.

Andrea Martinello

Andrea Martinello

Andrea is the Community & Engagement Officer at the National Farmers' Federation.

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