(Australian Associated Press)
Australia’s farm production has been forecast to surge past $66 billion with a bumper crop pushing forecasts $400 million higher than expected.
The federal government’s agriculture forecaster ABARES predicts production will reach $66.3 billion in 2020/21, an eight per cent increase on the drought-affected previous year.
A new-record winter crop has also revised export projections up $400 million.
But exports are still forecast to fall three per cent to just under $47 billion.
That’s mostly down to falling livestock export volumes due to herd and flock rebuilding reducing meat production to historically low levels.
ABARES acting executive director Jared Greenville said there had been an impressive turnaround in wheat, barley and canola shipments.
“Particularly for barley, this result demonstrates the resilience of supply chains, the benefits of a diversified production base and access to a diverse range of international markets,” he said.
In 2021/22 farm production is expected to fall to $65 billion, an upward revision of $1.7 billion from the March edition of ABARES’ commodity report.
“Prospects are positive for the next winter crop which has seen record high area planted, but it’s very unlikely to see two record years back to back,” Dr Greenville said.
The value of exports is forecast to grow to $49.7 billion in 2021/22, driven by higher beef, wool and dairy exports, along with a sharp recovery in cotton exports.
Dr Greenville said herd and flock rebuilding would be ongoing.
“But we are expecting more animals to begin flowing into meat processing in 2021/22, which is also likely to ease margin pressures on the red meat processing sector,” he said.
While the impact of mouse plagues has caused devastation in parts of NSW and Queensland, damage on a national scale has been limited.
Dr Greenville said the worst impacts were on stored grain and hay across those states.
“The worst of the mouse plague is likely to be behind us as cool and wet winter conditions slow breeding rates,” he said.
“There does remain a risk of a resurgence if winter is warmer than expected.”