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Australia: Drought fails to drain value from agri-sector

Despite scorching farmland across eastern Australia, the recent drought failed to drain the overall value of the nation's agriculture sector. The big dry has been offset by strong production in Western Australia, high livestock and rising grain prices, and a lower Australian dollar, according to the federal agriculture forecaster.

The latest quarterly commodities report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has forecasted the total value of farm production to remain relatively steady at $60 billion this financial year, well above the 10-year average of $55 billion.

Large swathes of Queensland and all of NSW are contending with drought conditions, which has contributed to a 12 per cent fall in winter crop production nationally.

ABARES executive director Steve Hatfield-Dodds said the lower volume was expected to be offset by higher prices for canola, coarse grains, cotton and wheat.

A warmer winter has supported the production of a range of fruits and vegetables, and sugar and wine grape production have not been significantly affected by the drought. Drought-stricken farmers de-stocking in the face of scarce pasture and rising feed costs are expected to push meat production higher.


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