Monday, May 26, 2008

Climate change roils farming in Australia

Earth Times: ….It's all change in agriculture in Australia, with global warming and globalization the drivers. New crops are coming up, traditional farming methods being abandoned, and small farms gobbled up by bigger ones. Over the past 20 years a third of farms have closed and the land folded into enterprises that are more efficient and better able to meet the peaks and troughs that come with the long droughts and drenching rains that characterize the continent's weather.

Phillip Glyde, the head of the state-financed Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, said that even after six years of drought a quarter of the nation's 130,000 farmers had a comfortable cash income. His worries are with the 25 per cent who haven't.

There are 24,000 farmers receiving income support. Glyde is a critic of hand-outs, arguing that the state "needs to get out of the way of productive farmers" by letting inefficient ones go broke.

…Farmers are expecting bumper harvests this year as the country comes out of a six-year drought. Global shortages are raising commodity prices. National Australia Bank economist Frank Drum predicts production will be up 30 per cent and incomes will rise 43 per cent. Bill Cordingly, from major agricultural lender Rabobank, says high demand means the coming harvest will be "as good as it has been in living memory with record prices for wheat, oilseeds, feed grain and coarse grains."…

Wheat farming in Australia, circa 1915, Wikimedia Commons

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