7121.0 - Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2007-08 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/05/2009   
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May 22, 2009
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEST)

Impact on agriculture as drought lingers: ABS

Australian crop production increased in 2007-08 in comparison to the previous year, but generally remains at among the lowest levels in five years, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Lack of water was a major contributor to this, with falls in cotton production and a near complete suspension of rice production. Drought conditions and industry adjustments have also lead to a decline in livestock, with sheep and lambs at yet another historic low.

Broadacre crops:
  • Wheat up 25% to 13.6 million tonnes. Victoria reported the largest increase, up by 127% to almost 2 million tonnes.
  • Barley up 68% to 7.2 million tonnes, with all states reporting increases.
  • Oat production doubled from last year's figure to 1.5 million tonnes, with most states reporting significant increases.
  • Improved summer conditions saw a dramatic increase in sorghum production, which reached record levels of 3.8 million tonnes.
  • Cotton dropped 58% to 119,000 tonnes, with growers reporting drought, low water allocations and low cotton prices for reduced plantings.
  • Rice dropped 89% to 17,600 tonnes on the back of significantly reduced plantings. Lack of water was the major reason behind the dramatic reduction in area planted and production.
    • Sheep and lamb numbers fell to 76.9 million - the lowest level recorded since 1920.
    • Meat cattle numbers fell slightly, with falls in southern states partly offset by increases in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
    • Milk cattle numbers fell by 4.7% to 2.5 million, with falls recorded in all states.
    • Pig numbers fell to 2.4 million, their lowest level since 1982, reflecting continued pressure on the industry from production costs and imports.

    • Although the area of many major vegetable commodities were down, some improvements in growing conditions led to increased production for crops including: onions (area down 7% but production up 3%), processing peas (area down 27% but production up 15%) and carrots (area down 14% and production up slightly (0.4%)). Increased plantings and production were reported for potatoes (area up 12% and production up 16%) and pumpkins (area up 7% and production up 12%).
    • Most fruit producers reported decreased production as a result of less than ideal conditions such as drought, lack of irrigation water and unseasonal weather including rain at harvest. Among the fruit crops with reported falls were mangoes (down 16%), peaches (down 16%), oranges (down 13%) and bananas (down 3%).

    Further details are in Agricultural Commodities, Australia 2007–08 (cat. no. 7121.0).

    Media Note : Please ensure when reporting on ABS data that you attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.