Severe drought contributed to a fall in the production of a number of key agricultural commodities in 2002–03, according to preliminary estimates from the Agricultural Survey released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Major findings from the survey include:
Drought hits wheat production and sheep numbers
- Wheat production fell to 10.1 million tonnes, down 59% from the previous year. The largest falls were reported in Western Australia (down 49% to 4.0 million tonnes), New South Wales (down 68% to 2.5 million tonnes) and South Australia (down 58% to 2.0 million tonnes);
- Sheep and lamb numbers dropped to their lowest level since 1947. The 2002–03 preliminary estimates showed a 7% drop on last year, down to 98.4 million. The largest falls were reported in New South Wales (down 11% to 34.1 million), Victoria (down 5% to 20.2 million) and Queensland (down 34% to 4.4 million);
- Barley production fell by 55% to 3.7 million tonnes, despite increased plantings in some regions. All of the major growing states reported significant decreases in production levels; and
Further details are in Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia (Preliminary) 2002–03 (cat. no. 7111.0).
- Estimates indicated that cattle numbers remained relatively constant. Milk cattle at 30 June 2003 were estimated at 3.1 million and meat cattle were estimated at 24.1 million.