- Winter crop production forecast to drop by 23 per cent in 2018–19 to 29.3m tonnes.
- Crop production is still substantially higher than it was during widespread droughts in 2002–03 and 2006–07.
- Prospects for summer crops will be highly dependent on sufficient and timely rainfall.
A dry winter and poor start to spring in most cropping regions has seen forecast winter crop production fall by almost one quarter.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) December crop report shows crop production dropped 20 per cent below the 20 year average.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the dip wasn’t unexpected and highlighted the impact of the drought on cropping.
“This latest crop report confirms what farmers living and working through this drought expected,” Minister Littleproud said.
“Harvesting of winter crops is well underway and total production is estimated to have decreased by 23 per cent to 29.3 million tonnes in 2018–19.
“Many farmers also chose to cut crops planted for grain production for hay because of higher fodder prices.
“The story of agriculture in Australia is just add rain. I know many areas are doing it extremely tough right now but our farmers continue to be resilient.
“Despite the continued drought, winter crop production remains substantially higher than 17 million tonne crops produced in the widespread droughts of 2002-03 and 2006-07.
“The government is getting behind our farmers to manage through the drought, investing nearly $6 billion—growing to $7 billion over time—in new assistance and additional funding.
“Just last week I introduced legislation in Parliament to create a $5 billion Future Drought Fund to build resilience and have a solid plan for the future of farming in this country.
“The Farm Household Allowance, a payment that helps put food on the table, has helped almost 9,500 farmers and their families since it was implemented.
“There is encouraging news in the report. Late spring rainfall has seen in an increase in summer crop planting in Queensland and northern New South Wales, but significant follow-up rain will be needed to ensure production.”
The December 2018 Australian Crop Report is available at www.agriculture.gov.au/crop-report