Small dip in ag production value as drought bites in Queensland

AgTrends report forecasts small dip in value for Queensland agriculture

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A new set of forecasts have been released for Queensland's agricultural industries.

A new set of forecasts have been released for Queensland's agricultural industries.

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Chickpeas, cotton and wheat were forecast to have the biggest decrease.

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Chickpeas, cotton, wheat and milk are among the primary products forecast to have the biggest dip in production value for 2018-19, official figures show. 

On Wednesday Agriculture Minister Mark Furner released the 2018-19 Queensland AgTrends report, compiled by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. 

The report showed the total value of Queensland's primary industry commodities was forecast at $18.5 billion for the coming year, an annual decrease of 4 per cent.

Despite the forecast yearly decrease, Mr Furner said the value was still in line with five year averages. 

Compared with 2017-18, the gross value of production for chickpeas would shrink 62 per cent, while cotton (48pc), wheat (24pc) and milk (11pc) were also forecast to have substantial dips. 

Cattle, the most important agricultural commodity in Queensland, was forecast to have a 6pc decrease in the gross value of production.

"...if the season remains dry, particularly in central Queensland, this could see cattle rebuilding efforts put on hold, and prices could ease a bit more," a Rabobank spokesman is quoted in the report.

A separate set of figures released by state Trade Minister Cameron Dick showed Queensland’s beef exports rose $710 million in the 12 months to November 2018, with the total value of exports coming to $5.3 billion. 

Beef exports would likely continue to increase as graziers offloaded more stock due to drought, Mr Dick said. 

The drop for chickpeas was explained by a dry autumn and an early winter, which would would result in a smaller area of crop sown, the report said. 

Tariffs on chickpeas imposed by India, one of Queensland's biggest markets, also dented expectations. 

Grain sorghum (100 pc growth), maize (39 pc), sheep meat (30 pc) and wool (28 pc) were among the industries forecast to have the biggest growth in gross value of production, although this was not necessarily all good news.  

Sheep meat production would barely keep pace with last year's historic low, the report noted, although strong demand would push up prices. 

"As prevailing drought conditions worsen in eastern Australia, [Meat and Livestock Australia] expects poor feed availability to force the sale of a large number of stock, many underweight, then a diminishing supply as only breeders are retained," the report noted. 

"Such sustained adversity is likely to keep Queensland sheep-meat production barely above last year’s historically low levels."

Mr Furner said the report showed Queensland had "largely maintained" its agricultural production value despite a "fifth year of significant drought".

“Currently, 58.1 per cent of Queensland is officially drought-declared and the probability of exceeding median rainfall until January 2019 is low for much of Queensland,” he said.

“The continuing dry conditions are a major influence on the chance of exceeding median growth particularly for the major cropping regions and extensive grazing lands of the state.”

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries would update the forecasts in August. 

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