Dramatic drop in crop production tells story of drought

AGRICULTURE Minister Barnaby Joyce is using a new crop report from a Federal bureau to gently push his case that primary producers in Queensland and New South Wales need urgent assistance.

The latest report from national experts at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, or ABARES, found Australia's summer crops - including sorghum - hard hit by drought and "poor conditions".

Nationally, grain sorghum production is to fall by 36%, rice by 22% and cotton by 8%.

The grain-sorghum industry in Queensland is worth more than $300 million, with crops stretching from St George in the south west, across the Darling Downs and through Central Queensland.

In Western Australia, the outlook for winter crops appears strong although again, NSW is forecast to cop a 14% hit to production while Queensland's fall will be closer to 20%.

The Nationals minister Joyce said the ABARES report "provides a stark insight" into what producers were facing.

When crops struggle in summer, sometimes a profitable winter crop helps cushion the impact for growers.

Mr Joyce said plenty of producers were now struggling all year round.

"Our hearts really go out to those families doing it tough this year," Mr Joyce said.

"In many cases their commitment to Australian agriculture isn't measured in years, but in generations.

"The value of that commitment is clear in the long term.

"We need to ensure that it is not broken in the short term."

Mr Joyce and the Nationals have been pushing Cabinet to support more help for producers reeling from unyielding drought conditions, particularly in parts of Queensland and NSW.


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