In­sight into the drought

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - AGFORCE SURVEY - . CAN­DYCE BRAITHWAITE Can­dyce.braithwaite@apn.com.au

A SUR­VEY of Queens­land farmers has re­vealed about half had lost more than half their an­nual in­come due to drought and about 60 per cent had less than half their po­ten­tial wa­ter sup­ply.

Re­leas­ing the re­sults of its 2018 drought sur­vey, AgForce Queens­land re­newed its calls for im­me­di­ate ad­di­tional sup­port for drought-af­fected com­mu­ni­ties do­ing it tough and an overhaul of na­tional drought pol­icy to de­liver bet­ter long-term out­comes.

AgForce gen­eral pres­i­dent Grant Maud­s­ley, who at­tended the Na­tional Drought Sum­mit in Canberra, said the pro­longed and se­vere na­ture of the drought had taken an enor­mous fi­nan­cial, emo­tional and en­vi­ron­men­tal toll on many re­gional com­mu­ni­ties in Queens­land.

“This sur­vey lays bare the im­pact of the drought, with the vast ma­jor­ity of Queens­land’s cat­tle and

sheep pro­duc­ers run­ning much lower live­stock num­bers and re­sults in­di­cate al­most a quar­ter of the state’s grain grow­ers did not plant a crop at all this year,” he said.

“The sur­vey also high­lighted the re­silience of farmers in

the face of ad­ver­sity. While al­most half of those sur­veyed rated the fi­nan­cial and per­sonal im­pacts of this drought as worse than pre­vi­ous droughts, about two-thirds were op­ti­mistic about the long-term out­look for their busi­nesses.”

More than 430 pri­mary pro­duc­ers from 49 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas re­sponded to the AgForce 2018 Drought Sur­vey, which was open through­out late Septem­ber and early Oc­to­ber. Mr Maud­s­ley said the re­sults high­lighted that pri­mary pro­duc­ers needed both im­me­di­ate sup­port to help them through this tough time and long-term pol­icy cer­tainty to pro­mote bet­ter plan­ning and risk man­age­ment.

“The on­go­ing na­ture of this drought has over­whelmed even the best ef­forts of many pro­duc­ers to pre­pare,” he said. “AgForce be­lieves Queens­land and Aus­tralia need an en­dur­ing drought pol­icy and have pro­posed an ‘agri­cul­tural busi­ness cy­cle’ ap­proach to help move gov­ern­ments from mainly re­spond­ing in cri­sis and to em­power pro­duc­ers to con­tin­u­ally bet­ter man­age the im­pacts of cli­mate risks across their busi­ness.”

“Drought has such a big im­pact on Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture and ex­tended dry pe­ri­ods are a re­cur­ring fea­ture, so we need gov­ern­ments at all lev­els and politi­cians on all sides to come to­gether with in­dus­try to work on a sus­tain­able ap­proach to man­age this is­sue now and into the fu­ture,” Mr Maud­s­ley said.

Find de­tails about AgForce’s agri­cul­tural busi­ness cy­cle ap­proach at http://bit.ly/ AgBusi­nessCy­cle.

PHOTO: FILE

RE­SULTS: A sur­vey con­ducted by AgForce Queens­land shows the grim re­al­ity of the cur­rent drought.

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