Signs of price hope as farmers start to rebuild after fire, flood and drought

Zach RelphCountryman
WA’s southern rangelands have been hit by dry conditions.
Camera IconWA’s southern rangelands have been hit by dry conditions. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

A new report warns 2020 will be an “extremely challenging” year for the nation’s primary producers as key agricultural regions emerge from drought, horrific bushfires and floods.

Rabobank’s latest AgriBusiness Outlook, released this morning, cited a “multi-year rebuild” for the Australian agricultural landscape in the aftermath of poor seasonal conditions.

However, the analysis offered some hope for farmers and forecast continued high prices for most commodities including wheat and beef.

Rabobank head of food and agribusiness research Tim Hunt, the lead author, said after poor seasonal conditions over the past three years, the sector was in a tough position heading into 2020.

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“(Last year) was marred by drought, fire and flood. It was the driest year on record, compounding the drought already being experienced by the Eastern States in the years prior,” he said.

“And, while recent rainfall across drought-affected regions has brought some optimism, farmers will need continued rain to replenish soil moisture and break the drought.”

For wheat, Rabobank reported a forecast 4 per cent year-on-year hike in global wheat prices will underpin Australia’s wheat prices this year.

Strong international demand, alongside a low domestic supply, are expected to push beef prices higher.

“It will be important for the Australian sector to rebuild out of drought to be strong and adaptable so it can capitalise on these opportunities and mitigate the threats that lie ahead,” Mr Hunt said.

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