Wheat fields in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) suffered extensive damage amounting to more than $150 million after floods hit the country’s east coast.
The New South Wales Farmers Association (NSWFA) has appealed to the federal government in Canberra for flood support payments to be included in the initial budget. Justin Everitt, the chairman of the NSWFA’s grains committee, said crops are “now drowning beneath floodwater.” He warned that a “complete write-off” may be needed if paddocks don’t dry out soon.
“You spend all this money preparing your paddocks, sowing your crops, fertilizing and spraying them, only to see them wiped out a couple of weeks before harvest. It’s heartbreaking,” said Everitt.
“Farmers know they’re taking a bit of a gamble when they’re planting a crop, but this ongoing wet weather with flood after flood after flood is just unbelievable.”
Susannah Pearse, deputy mayor for the Moree Plains Shire, said the flooding destroyed the bumper crops. “It’s the fourth biggest flood in our history,” she said of the deluge.
“It’s not what we needed as we head into our winter crop harvest. Ordinarily, we’re the most productive agricultural shire in Australia. Typically, we get about $1 billion of produce from the Moree Plains each year.”
According to the deputy mayor, the floods are going to have a huge impact on the Moree Plains; when the harvest is well, so is the township.
John Lowe, the head of NSWFA’s Business, Economics and Trade Committee, seconded calls for Canberra to increase flood relief payments.
“There are many impacted farmers who will be cash poor and without an income as a result of this flooding, and that has caused widespread economic pain across rural areas,” he said. “So many of our towns and businesses depend on agriculture, so it is critical farmers have the certainty to try again next season. Swift financial assistance – or the lack thereof – could make or break many farming communities.”
Aside from wheat, NSW is also a basket for huge barley, sorghum, cotton and canola harvests. But with more than 140 flood warnings remaining across the state, farmers definitely have serious problems on their hands. While crops in some areas such as Wee Waa in northeast NSW have been underwater, those that weren’t submerged still remained untouched as farmers struggled to work machinery.
The resulting floods are limiting the supply of fresh produce and pushing prices up, making things worse for shoppers struggling with inflation. Growers are now racing to save apples, pears and peaches set to be harvested this summer, compounding fears that consumers will feel the hurt of the upcoming high prices. (Related: Food prices soar as abnormal rains, floods in Australia wipe out more crops.)
The possible interruptions to food supply arrive at a time when food prices are raised worldwide, as well as in Australia.
Yearly headline inflation increased to a 32-year high in the third quarter, with fruit and vegetable prices heading the charge.
Coles Group Ltd., Australia’s second-biggest supermarket, is also forecasting that inflation will increase more due to flooding.
There are also worries about grain supply and quality in important growing areas across New South Wales and Victoria. Millions of tons of wheat, barley and canola are likely to be spoiled because of heavy rains, which are preventing farmers from collecting their crops.
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Watch the video below about the devastating flooding in Australia.
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