Impressive Winter Crop Harvest in Australia
After suffering problems due to drought in recent years, Australian farmers now have some good news. The winter growing conditions have led to what is set to be a bumper crop in key cropping areas of the country.
- Сrop production for 2020-21 was around 51.5 million tonnes
- Yield is 7.4% higher than the prediction that ABARES made in its September
- China imposed an 80% tariff on Australian barley imports
According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), crop production for the winter season 2020-21 is expected to be around 51.5 million tonnes. This is the second-highest yield ever with the highest being 56.7 million tonnes in 2016-17.
Key cropping regions setting the pace
Main cropping areas like New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, and South Australia have played a critical role in the bumper crop in Australia thanks to favourable conditions. The rainfall during September and October happened at the ideal time in the growing cycle. In Western Australia and Queensland, the situation is not quite as good due to conditions late in winter and during spring that were not favourable. Although, the yield is still expected to be up on last year.
Overall, the picture across Australia is positive. The expected yield is 7.4% higher than the prediction that ABARES made in its September crop report. For individual crops, the figures are expected to be:
- 31 million tonnes for wheat.
- 12 million tonnes for barley.
- 1.6 million tonnes for oats.
- 737,000 tonnes for chickpeas.
The high crop yield means that some farmers may have to keep crops on the farm for longer or travel further to find storage. However, this is a small price to pay for the benefits to the industry and to rural communities overall.
Good news for the agriculture industry and rural communities
Rural communities have been hit by drought and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic recently. So, they need the good news that a huge harvest brings. This does not just apply to farmers but also to the wider communities in which they live and spend money.
One of the most positive aspects is that jobs are being created in rural areas. Given that many jobs were lost during 2020, this is very good news.
The one potential downside is the levy on barley that China imposed as part of its ongoing dispute with Australia. The problems began in 2018 when Australia took action against China including excluding Huawei Technologies Co. from the project to build the Australian 5G mobile network.
The fall-out between Australia and China worsened in April 2020 when the Australian government called for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In May 2020, China imposed an 80% tariff on Australian barley imports alleging illegal dumping practices. Australia denied the charges and has since appealed to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
There is no doubt that the issues with China have had an impact on the Australian agricultural industry, as well as other industries that have had their goods impacted by actions taken by China. This includes the recent ban on Australian coal imports.
The main issue for farmers is finding buyers for barley that would normally be exported to China. They are having to find domestic buyers or to sell the crop at a reduced price to other countries such as Saudi Arabia.
Despite the problems, the dispute with China is having much less of a negative impact on the agriculture industry than the droughts did. The exact impacts should become clearer when ABARES produces its soon to be published report on the impact of the dispute on different commodities.
In the meantime, Australian farmers are a lot happier than they were during the highly damaging periods of drought. This year, conditions have been on their side and they are about to reap the rewards of a truly bumper crop.