March 10, 2011


South Australia's grain production value reaches record high



South Australia's farmers have achieved a record grain crop worth AUD3.4 billion (US$3.42 billion) after years of drought.


The 10.34 million tonnes harvest were much larger than expected in January when it was estimated to be worth AUD2.5 billion (US$2.51 billion).


The most recent government Crop and Pasture Report shows the harvest also surpassed the earlier record of 9.36 million tonnes in 2001-02.


Agriculture Minister, Michael O'Brien, said it was ultimately a gain for farmers and the economy, in spite of the possible logistics obstacles of handling a large crop.


"Many farmers are reporting large profits, some the best ever, thanks to the record grain harvest and high grain prices," he said. "Our producers have fared much better than their interstate counterparts who have not only endured high summer rainfall and drought but also natural disasters."


The bumper harvest is valued at at least AUD1 billion (US$1 billion) more than the previous most valuable harvest in 2001.


The Primary Industries and Resources SA Crop Report found the damage to crops from harvest rains was lower than expected and is approximated to have lowered the value of production by about AUD200 million (US$201 million).


O'Brien said although the harvest was mostly completed in January, rain pushed back the completion until late last month (Feb 2010) in the South East, one of the latest ever finishes.


The record crop compares to a five-year average of only 5.6 million tonnes.


SA Farmers Federation grains committee chairman, Michael Schaefer, said the state required at least another year like this to help farmers recover from the years of drought and poor prices.


Schaefer expected a carryover of approximately 2.5 million tonnes of grain by next harvest as it would be impossible to physically export the whole crop before that time.


Handling and storage problems led to the convening of a select committee to investigate grain handling in South Australia on March 9.


Opposition agriculture spokesman, Adrian Pederick, said his initiative, given support by both sides of the House of Assembly, would investigate the grain handling sector.