Drought slashes Australian farm output to record low

Some interesting analysis from Phys.org:

Australia’s hottest and driest year on record has slashed crop production, with summer output expected to fall to the lowest levels on record, according to official projections…

The country’s agriculture department said it expects production of crops like sorghum, cotton and rice to fall 66 percent—the lowest levels since records began in 1980-81.

“It is the lowest summer crop production in this period by a large margin,” Peter Collins, a senior economist with the department’s statistical body ABARES told AFP.

Early February downpours are likely to have come too late to help farmers.

Swathes of Australian farmland have suffered three or more years of drought. But 2019 saw rainfall below the previous record low set in 1902 and average temperatures 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above the previous warmest year in 2013.

The fall in the summer forecast follows a drop of winter crops—which includes wheat, a major cash crop—by an estimated five percent.

For what it’s worth, the ABS shows that agricultural exports (by value) have shown no growth in two years:

This data is only to December 2019, thus does not capture the expected slump in summer crops.

Leith van Onselen
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