Drought takes toll, but agriculture remains key economic pillar


Years of relentless drought are taking a toll on Queensland’s agriculture sector, with the 2019–20 total value for primary industry commodities forecast to be $17.8 billion, 5 per cent less than the April 2019 estimate, and 6 per cent less than the average for the past five years.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the latest Agtrends report made sobering reading, but the Palaszczuk Government was investing for the future prosperity of the industry.

“While Queensland primary producers are amongst the best in the world at handling climatic variability, this drought is having a significant impact,” Mr Furner said.

2019–20 Gross Value Production (GVP) forecasts:

  • cattle and calves sold for slaughter and live exports are forecast to be $5.14 billion, which is 6 per cent lower than 2018–19 and 5 per cent lower than the average for the past 5 years.
  • vegetables are forecast to be $1.22 billion, 4 per cent less than 2018–19 and 2 per cent less than the average for the past 5 years.
  • poultry comes in at $573 million, 1 per cent greater than 2018-19 and 3 per cent lower than the average for the past 5 years.
  • sugarcane is forecast to be $1.02 billion, which is approximately 6 per cent lower than 2018-19. 

Other major commodities feeling the ravages of drought:

  • ­cotton is forecast to be $237 million, 58 per cent lower than 2018-19, and 59 per cent lower than the average for the past 5 years.
  • ­barley is forecast to be just $28 million for the 2019 winter crop, which is 20 per cent below 2018–19 and 63 per cent below the average over the past 5 years.
  • ­chickpeas are just $83 million, 39 per cent below 2018–19 and 78 per cent below the average for the past 5 years.
  • ­milk is forecast to be $170 million, 15 per cent lower than 2018–19, and 26 per cent lower than the average for the past 5 years.

Mr Furner said eggs had bucked the trend with a forecast value of $239 million, 5 per cent higher than 2018–19, and 9 per cent higher than the average for the past 5 years.

“These results underscore the importance of the Palaszczuk Government’s ongoing commitment to drought support,” he said.

“So far during this drought, if all direct and indirect drought-related programs are combined, expenditure and commitments reached over $745M by the end of June 2019.

“Our assistance package has provided over $196M through various measures to producers to the end of June, with provision for a further $74.6M committed in this year’s State Budget.”

The Drought Assistance Package provides: 

  • freight subsidies and emergency water infrastructure rebates under the biggest program, the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS)\
  • the Drought Relief from Electricity Charges Scheme (DRECS)for irrigators and water users
  • land rent rebates
  • water licence waivers, and
  • the Communities Assistance Program.

“In addition to the Queensland Drought Assistance Package, there is the Primary Industries Productivity Enhancement Scheme (PIPES) from the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA), and a number of other drought-related programs,” Mr Furner said. 

“PIPES provides concessional loans for those looking to establish a primary production enterprise or improve the sustainability of an existing enterprise.  The PIPES portfolio as at 30 June 2019 was $496M, with $100M available for loans in 2019-20.

“Under the $36M Rural Adjustment Scheme, there is now compulsory farm debt mediation, assistance with professional farm management and succession advice, and the Queensland bi-annual Rural Debt Survey, the next one of which will commence in 2020.

“The Royal Flying Doctor Service Drought Wellbeing Service (originally part of the Drought Assistance Package) and the Tackling Regional Adversity through Integrated Care (TRAIC) program, are now recurrent programs within Queensland Health.”

Mr Furner said the Palaszczuk Government’s $21M Drought and Climate Adaptation Program (DCAP) is helping producers better manage future drought and other climate risks through improved forecast products, tools and extension activities.

“We have also committed $10M to our Rural Economic Development grants program to help agricultural businesses in regional areas expand and grow jobs,” Mr Furner said.

“Already the first round of grants has committed $3.3M to support the creation of regional 600 jobs, and that is what we are all about.”

You can view the Agtrends Report at www.daf.qld.gov.au

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
The Honourable Mark Furner
Business Business & Economy Political Primary Industries Queensland Government

Mark Furner MP : Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries :
PO Box 15009, City East, 4002, Queensland Wide
13 74 68
07 3405 6930
Mark Furner MP : Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
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