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In 2002-03, the gross value of crops fell by 26% to $15.9 billion. Decreases in gross value were recorded for all major cereal crops: wheat for grain fell by 59% to $2.6 billion; barley for grain fell by 48% to $890 million; grain sorghum fell by 10% to $316 million; oats for grain fell by 16% to $211 million; and rice for grain fell by 51% to $160 million. These decreases were mostly due to significant falls in estimated production, since strong demand for feed grain fuelled increases in average prices.
Gross values for a number of other major crops also fell: cotton was down by 43% to $753 million; canola was down by 46% to $366 million; and lupins for grain was down by 31% to $208 million. Sugar cane cut for crushing was one of the few crops to record an increase in value in 2002-03, up by 2% to $1.0 billion. Good conditions were reported in a number of sugar growing regions and the consequent increase in production more than offset a fall in average price.
The gross value of pastures and grasses increased by 32% in 2002-03 to $1.0 billion. Crops for hay also recorded an increase in gross value, up by 66% to $371 million. Average prices for pasture crops and crops for hay increased by 51% and 77% respectively, reflecting increased demand for fodder crops during the drought.
The estimated gross value of grapes fell by 7% to $1.5 billion, with falls recorded in production and average price. The gross values of apples and tomatoes increased by 3% (to $358 million) and 22% (to $279 million), respectively. These increases were due to increases in average price since production of both crops was down.
Livestock slaughterings and other disposals
In 2002-03, the preliminary estimate of the gross value of livestock slaughterings and other disposals fell by 7% to $10.7 billion.
The gross value of cattle and calves slaughterings and other disposals fell by 10% to $6.4 billion. Drought conditions and increased feed costs prompted higher turnoff rates with total disposals up by 9%. This forced prices down by an average of 17%, from the highs of the previous year.
The gross value of sheep and lambs slaughterings and other disposals also fell, down by 4% to $2.0 billion. Although continued strong demand led to a small increase in average prices, tight supply of sheep and lambs saw a 5% fall in total disposals.
The gross value of poultry slaughterings and other disposals rose by 8% to $1.3 billion, the result of a small increase in total disposals and a 7% increase in average price.
The gross value of pig slaughterings and other disposals fell by 6% to $911 million, with a 6% increase in total disposals more than offset by a 12% drop in average price.
For 2002-03, the preliminary estimate of the gross value of livestock products fell by 5% to $6.4 billion, with an increase in the gross value of wool more than offset by decreases in the gross values of milk and eggs.
The gross value of wool increased by 22% to $3.3 billion. This was due to a 30% increase in average price as buyers reacted to dwindling supplies, with wool production down by 6% and the national sheep flock at its lowest level since 1947.
The gross value of milk fell by 25% to $2.8 billion, a result of an 8% drop in production due to drought and an 18% fall in average price. For eggs, the gross value of production fell by 11% to $286 million, with a 2% increase in production more than offset by a 12% fall in average price.
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