While the rest of the world’s agriculture battles the affect of the coronavirus, it is drought and the aftermath of last summer’s wildfires that will dominate Australian farmers’ immediate fortunes, according to a government report.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences does acknowledge, however, that the Covid-19 pandemic will also have a detrimental impact in the short term.
Its report said: “The biggest impact on the agricultural sector over the past three years has been and remains the drought conditions that have affected national production.
“While recent improvements in seasonal conditions will ease pressures on primary producers, the impact of this summer’s bushfires and Covid-19 will likely compound those of the drought in the short term.”
The pandemic restrictions across the world have impacted the global economy, with household incomes falling, and would likely result in lower prices being realised for Australian exports, it warns.
The report said while early indications suggest that domestic supply chains and those to a number of key markets remain functional in Australia, it expressed concern that the disruption caused by coronavirus could affect both exports and imports of key farm inputs.
The paper said while food security in Australia was not under threat, with exports still continuing, the virus would have a significant impact on high-quality products and manufacturing goods such as cotton and wool.
There was also a danger that perishable products such as citrus fruits and berries – that have not yet reached their peak export period – may be hit, it said, as could the export of live cattle to Indonesia.