Media Release

Maintaining resilience to weather the winter crop season

11 June 2014

Maintaining resilience and improved rainfall will be key to 2014–15 winter crop season according to Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, following the latest release of the Australian Crop Report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Minister Joyce said despite a generally positive start to the season, northern New South Wales and Queensland continued to be affected by less than favourable conditions for crop production.

"Above average rainfall in many east coast cropping regions during autumn is an encouraging start to the winter crop season but more rainfall over winter will be needed for northern New South Wales and Queensland," Minister Joyce said.

"I'm glad to hear that favourable conditions held for winter crop planting in Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria as well as central and southern New South Wales."

While the total area planted to winter crops in Australia is forecast to rise by 1 per cent in 2014–15, total winter crop production is forecast to fall by 12 per cent, primarily because of an assumed fall in yields in Western Australia and South Australia from bumper results in the previous year.

The Bureau of Meteorology suggests a drier than average winter for much of southern Australia with at least a 70 per cent chance of an El Niño event developing in the second half of 2014.

Minister Joyce said impacts of El Niño events on crop production were not uniform and are difficult to predict with the level and the timing of rainfall influencing crop production.

"Several El Niño events in the past 30 years have had no significant adverse effect on winter crop production across the eastern states and South Australia. This shows the strength of our primary industries and the resilience and preparation of our farmers and farming families," Minister Joyce said.

"The Australian Government recognises the variable conditions our primary producers manage and is committed to supporting farmers and their families through the tough times, especially as the current forecast indicates a drier than normal winter is more likely for large parts of Australia.

"The Coalition Government is currently rolling out a comprehensive $320 million national drought package to help farmers in need, and we are delivering an additional $210 million in 2014–15 under the Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme.

"I am absolutely determined to meet the needs of farmers experiencing difficulty as a result of lower than average rainfall, and I am pleased that $100 million in drought concessional loans are now available in Queensland and $100 million will soon start flowing in New South Wales, both states where unfavourable cropping conditions are likely to persist."

For information on available assistance measures for farmers visit daff.gov.au/assistance.

To view the latest release of Australian Crop Report, visit daff.gov.au/abares/publications.