7111.0 - Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia, Preliminary, 2006-07  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/12/2007   
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December 20, 2007
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEDT)
Drought impacts crops; sheep & lambs at lowest level since 1924: ABS

Farmers report that continued hot and dry conditions during 2006-07 have significantly impacted crop production and dropped sheep and lamb numbers to 80-year lows in southern states, says the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Production levels of wheat, barley, cotton and rice crops have been seriously affected, according to preliminary estimates from the latest Agricultural Survey. However, less severe conditions reported in some northern regions has seen cattle numbers holding steady overall despite drops in the southern states.

    • Sheep and lamb were reported as 86.3 million head, this is the lowest estimate reported since 1924.
    • Meat cattle numbers were little changed at 25.6 million head.
    • Milk cattle numbers fell by 5% to 2.6 million head - indicating the impact of continued dry conditions.
    • Pig numbers fell by 4% to 2.6 million head - with producers reporting increased feed costs as a factor.
    • Wheat production fell by 58% to 10.6 million tonnes, after reaching near-record levels the previous year, with drought conditions reported in many areas.
    • Barley production fell by 56% to 4.2 million tonnes, with drought conditions reported in many areas.
    • Cotton lint production fell by 50% to 283,000 tonnes, this was the smallest crop recorded since 1988 (and smallest area planted since 1987), with growers reporting lack of water and unfavourable growing conditions.
    • Rice production fell by 84% to 161,000 tonnes, with growers reporting a lack of water for irrigation as the reason for this decline.
Further details are in Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia (Preliminary) 2006-07 (cat. no. 7111.0)