Australia: Over 80 Percent Of NWS Gripped By Drought

The New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries and Rural Affairs, Steve Whan, says that 80.8% of the state is in drought, 14.8% is marginal, and just 4.4% is considered satisfactory.

The State Government said over the weekend that it would extend aid measures to farmers affected by the drought. These include a 50% subsidy for those needing to transport feed and water to keep their animals alive, as well as many being forced to sell or slaughter animals prematurely.

The drought was described by one farmer as "one of the worst in the last 140 years" - with some destocking completely.

The drought also means that the grain harvest is already over in many areas, in one of the earliest finishes on record in some places, Whan added.

ABARE cut it's wheat production forecast for the state to 5.1 MMT last week, 26% down on last year's 6.9 MMT, and 19% lower than what had been expected as recently as September.

As well as quantity, it looks like quality could also be a problem this season. To add insult to injury, a resurgent Australian dollar is a big problem when you rely so heavily on exports. That means that domestic prices are also particularly depressed Down Under.

Despite an anticipated wheat crop of 22 MMT this year, Australia only consumes around 7 MMT per year domestically. In addition she only consumes around half of the anticipated 8.3 MMT barley crop.

Some reports I am reading suggest feed wheat prices in the low A$150's delivered (around GBP86), with feed barley values as low as A$100 delivered - that is the equivalent to just GBP55!